Distinctions in Glass | Bremers, Janecký, Shimomoto
Distinction can be defined both as a contrast between similar things, and an excellence that sets one thing apart from another. Two discrete meanings for the same word, yet both meanings apply easily to the glass work of the three artists—Peter Bremers, Harue Shimomoto, and Martin Janecký—featured in this exhibition. This gathering of three unique artists highlights the diversity of technique, form, and aesthetic which glass allows the maker. Bremers creates monumental cast glass sculptures—abstract, monochrome references to landscape and space. Shimomoto weaves glass threads into sculptural tapestries, employing clean lines to capture the essence of nature. Janecký is a modern-day Augustus Saint-Gaudens who sculpts molten glass into naturalistic, emotive busts and figures. Their commonality—a gift for manipulating this malleable material into astonishing works of art that elevate the viewer beyond the banal of the everyday.
Peter Bremers was an established light sculptor when he stumbled upon a glassblowing workshop in his native Netherlands, inspiring a journey of discovery in using glass to capture and bend light. The artist sculpts a model out of a dense foam block. By using the kiln cast method, the model is transformed into glass. He is well known for his awesome glass icebergs, inspired by a voyage to Antarctica in 2001, which bridge the psychic gap between humans and the natural world. He masterfully captures nature’s magnificence in flawless glass microcosms, bringing us intimately in tune with nature by kindling our sense of wonder and smallness around her majesty.
17 x 12.5 x 5.8"
cast glass, 15 x 16.7 x 5.6"
17.5 x 12 x 6"
Bremers work in this exhibition turns the journey inward with metaphysical cogitations on space that offer a healing salve in a disconnected and anxious world. Bremers takes the interplay of positive and negative space—an element inherent in our physical experience of three-dimensional sculpture—and extends it in a metaphoric direction. He brings negative space into the sculpture in the form of holes and hollow sections; visible through an outer transparent shell of glass, their volume constantly shifts as the light flows through. These studies of space are monochromatic meditations on form and light—at times intricately faceted, gracefully arched, softly geometric, languidly amorphous. Eloquent descriptors such as Circumscribed, Honey Sweet, Illusional, Optical, Sensuous, and Connected title these “spaces,” signposts that encourage our understanding of Bremer’s artistic intention. Of this series, the artist has written, “Finding ourselves in a time of increasingly negative perception of everyday news events and an overall rising feeling of being unsafe in a world of religious, political, and social divisiveness, we may forget to focus on the possibilities and comfort offered by positive action and attitude. Positive space symbolizes tolerance, appreciation, hope, and opportunity.”
While Bremers articulates the grand physical phenomena of nature, artist Harue Shimomoto relishes in its small gestures and broad strokes. Diaphanous curtains of glass express abstract notions—weather shifting with the seasons, light morphing throughout the day, leaves changing their hue, air circling a pond, fields blowing in the wind. Simple colors and forms mingle in a complex but soothing mesh of layered glass rods. Illusionistic depth emerges as Shimomoto deftly wields positive and negative sculptural space and carefully handles light and shadow, distilling moments into shimmering immersive impressions. Like with Bremers, Shimomoto’s work goes beyond mere physical exploration, becoming a meditative journey that holds tightly to the impermanence of fragile moments and shifts the viewer’s gaze beyond the tangible.
fused glass, stainless steel wire, pigment, epoxy, metal hooks,
51 x 37 x 7"
(Sun Spring Light)
fused glass, stainless steel wire, pigment, epoxy, metal hooks, 36 x 36 x 7"
Fused glass, stainless steel wire, pigment, epoxy, silver leaf, metal hooks, 36 x 36 x 7"
Shimomoto was born in Japan and received her BFA from Tokyo’s Musashino Art University, then came to the United States to get her MFA, settling afterwards in Rhode Island. Simplicity and ephemerality have a storied tradition in the Japanese aesthetic, a way of being that Shimomoto embodies, but also one from which she diverges. There is a quiet strength to her work—in its construction but more so it in its message—that makes her a unique amalgam. She has said: “I do not want the viewer to be too conscious of the glass. I almost believe that glass itself is too beautiful to be a medium. Many people see glass as functional object or decorative material. I want to break these images of glass and give it a different quality. Therefore, I am careful to make my work stronger than my medium.”
15.75 x 12 x 11.75"
approx. 27.5" h on stand
Martin Janecký is a master handler of the medium of glass, coaxing impossibly naturalistic figures and animals out of the material. Janecký was born to be a glassmaker, working in his father’s glass factory in the Czech Republic beginning at the age of 13. He likes to say “I didn’t pick glass, glass picked me.” After graduating from the glass school Nový Bor, he embarked on a path that has taken him to glass programs all over the world as a visiting artist and instructor to over 600 students a year. Teaching has been accompanied by endless learning, the time to formulate and hone his personal aesthetic, and the opportunity to push and perfect his innovative glass molding technique.
By “sculpting inside the bubble,” (blowing the basic bubble, then opening a hole and molding it with different tools from both the inside and the outside), Janecký achieves extraordinary realism and startling detail in his faces. Nooks, crevices, lines, and protuberances gradually emerge, a map of human emotion drawn in glass, radiating from within as is from a living, feeling soul. When asked about the meaning of his work, he has said: “I make things which fascinate me—not just from the workmanship point of view—I try to give them an expression. I don’t want to make just a realistic portrait. I want to capture feelings and emotions.” The external calm of the artist as he deliberately and slowly works the material belies his own creative mind—active, passionate, always seeking challenge.
A distinctive characteristic of glass as a medium is that it responds to challenge, yields to the vision of the passionate artist and skilled technician. A simple set of ingredients heated together to molten consistency, pushed, blown, poured, shaped, colored, etched, and altered in ways as myriad as the imagination can conjure. Peter Bremers, Harue Shimomoto, and Martin Janecký demonstrate the breadth of the physical and creative possibilities of glass because each brings deep devotion to the art, a unique ability to work with the material, and a drive to explore new experiences in glass.
Stockbridge, MA: Often when one hears the term Art Glass, a work of art created in a hot furnace with a blowpipe is what first comes to mind. This exhibit gives visitors a glimpse into the diverse techniques that creative hands and minds can employ in this medium. Made in N.E. is a curated exhibition of blown, cast, cut, fused, laminated, and sculpted works in glass created by fourteen artists in New England including; William Carlson, Daniel Clayman, Dan Dailey, Bernie D’Onofrio, Robin Grebe, Dorothy Hafner, Eric Hilton, Sidney Hutter, K. William LeQuier, Martin Rosol, Thomas Scoon, Harue Shimomoto, Jen Violette, and Steven Weinberg.Made in N.E. celebrates the intersection of global and local technique and tradition. Some of the artists, like Eric Hilton, Martin Rosol, and Harue Shimomoto, bring international perspectives to the show, as emigrants or immigrants to the U.S. who chose to settle in New England. Martin Rosol of MA, for example, became a naturalized American citizen in 1994. His exhibited works present the viewer with Rosol’s innovations on the Czech glass tradition. Other featured artists, such as Jen Violette, are dyed-in-the-wool New Englanders. Violette herself found initial artistic inspiration in the artworks and lifestyle of her grandparents who earned their living as studio artists in Maine. She currently resides in Vermont on a small farm, drawing inspiration for her hot sculpted glass pieces from the gardens on her land.
The artists’ processes are as diverse and nuanced as their origin stories. Many of these artists use multiple techniques, several incorporate varied materials such as metal, mahogany, or stone into their glass sculptures. Whether viewing the installations of Bill Carlson, Daniel Clayman, and Dan Dailey or the smaller-scale work of Robin Grebe, Dorothy Hafner, and Sidney Hutter, one cannot help but marvel at the diverse and incredibly unique art united by the medium of glass and the community behind it.
Dorothy Hafner at work on her designs.
A fair number of newer glass artists and many who started working during the earlier days of the American Studio Glass Movement, which began about 55 years ago, progressed through ceramics as a stepping stone to the alluring medium of glass. Dorothy Hafner, trained as a painter, sculptor, and ceramicist, first designed for Tiffany & Co. and the Rosenthal Company before venturing into the world of glass. Hafner collaborated with the famous Lino Tagliapietra and has since shifted her focus to flat glass, fusing her layer upon layer of intricately cut designs to create her trademark bright translucent panels.
Given the translucent nature of glass, it is no surprise that a number of glass artists begin as lighting designers or emphasize lighting in their work. Daniel Clayman, who recently created the vast Rainfield installation at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design’s new Design and Media Center, started as a theater lighting designer before embarking on a very successful career in glass. Clayman’s continued interest in light’s behavior and feats of engineering are apparent in his cast and cut glass works, which in some instances expand to fill a vast room, and in others fit on a pedestal.
Dan Dailey, known for his range of technique and the versatility of his work, has been creating sculptures and functional art with an emphasis on lighting since 1970. His series of chandeliers and sconces captivate viewers with their whimsy and technical prowess evident in their execution. Every piece of Dailey’s work begins with a drawing, and many incorporate multiple medias and glass-working processes. He is a master of the most seductive of all techniques, blown and hot-sculpted glass. The immediacy, the fire, and the viscous honey-like consistency of molten glass lure many artists and craftspeople into its web. Watching is irresistible, doing is difficult. Dailey, a veteran of the glass-blowing arena, has certainly proven his commitment to his art over the course of more than forty-five years as a working artist. Often narrative, his sculptures and architectural installations explore extraordinary concepts with a wide range of themes and styles articulated through blown, cast, and pâte de verre glass expertly woven with elements of bronze, steel, aluminum, and light.
A number of artists who work in cast glass, such as William Carlson, Robin Grebe, and Thomas Scoon, also incorporate alternate media into their glass sculptures. After making a mold from sand, plaster, or another material that can hold its shape while filled with molten glass, the artist pours the hot glass into the void, sometimes adding elements to the piece while it is still warm, sometimes waiting for it to cool before juxtaposing the fragility against the strength of metal or stone.
Eric Hilton at work.
Some glass artists follow their casting process with “cold working,” or the manipulation of glass at room temperature. “Cold working” almost always involves cutting or carving the glass, by hand with a tool or by means of a machine. Eric Hilton employs varied methods, using a waterjet or a copper wheel. Sidney Hutter pioneered a laminating process that includes ultraviolet adhesive and specialty pigments to create and color his precisely cut plate glass into the suggestions of vessels. Martin Rosol, too, plays with color in his laminate as well as the finishes of his sculptures. He sandblasts to achieve a softer opacity, or grinds and polishes to create surfaces that shine like ice. After carefully planning each piece, the internationally exhibited Steven Weinberg casts and carves optical crystal in his Rhode Island studio.
Glassblowing and particularly hot sculpting also offer many opportunities for the rendering of an artistic vision, for innovation and experimentation. The potential and allure of this medium plus fire and breath is reflected in Bernie D’Onofrio’s stunning rivulets of glass that seem suspended within an exterior transparent vessel, or in the wild, almost alive glass strands tamed by K. William LeQuier’s talent. Jen Violette’s irresistible garden vegetables and rabbits charm viewers, her sculpted hands embody grace.
Experimentation in this art form continues to produce amazing works, such as the delicately woven threads of glass by Harue Shimomoto. The presentation is as exacting as the process, as Shimomoto suspends layers of glass tendrils from above to create depth and subtle movement as the viewer shifts and perspective changes, creating an ethereal suggestion of a textile landscape.
K WIlliam LeQuier
Visit Schantz Galleries in Stockbridge, MA, to see how New England artists exemplify the diversity of technique, perspective, and origin that the world of contemporary art glass has to offer.
IF YOU GO: Made in N.E.
Exhibition May 8 – June 24, 2017
Gallery Hours: Open daily 10:30-5:30
Schantz Galleries Contemporary Glass, 3 Elm Street, Stockbridge, Massachusetts 01262
Tel: 413-298-3044 www.schantzgalleries.com
Artist Reception: Friday June 23, 4-6pm