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All’s Fair at the Art Fair

Sorry to have stalled after posting about Dan Klein’s death. It just took the wind out of my sails.

Meanwhile, it’s been pointed out to me that it’s a bit morbid to have an obit on the blog for over a month. And, more to the point, Dan would have thought so too. It’s true – he would have.

Dan cared passionately about our field and worked relentlessly to advance it in the larger art world – whether that world was called craft, decorative arts, applied arts or contemporary art.

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Close to Close. ART Santa Fe was a chance to show our artists’ work in a different context.

We talked often about the need for a secondary market in order to better establish realistic values in glass. One of Dan’s last major contributions to our field was his organizing of Bonham’s Modern and Contemporary Glass auction in London last May.

We also talked about the benefit of fairs – and of getting glass into mainstream art fairs – although the issue of art v. craft has always seemed a less troubling one in Europe than in the USA.

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ART Santa Fe – bless the organizers – gave us front and center position for our presentation of works by Cobi Cockburn, Mel Douglas and Jess Loughlin.

Getting juried into a fine art fair can be a challenge for a gallery dealing primarily in glass. We tried without success for a few years to get into the San Francisco Art Expo. We were finally accepted in 2005 and were delighted with the response to the works we showed (Amsel, Loughlin, Rea, Zirpel). Sadly the fair closed the next year – we’re still hoping it wasn’t because glass got in.

ART Santa Fe was another excursion outside the territory of applied arts, craft, design -  I sometimes wish less time were spent on the titles and more on the work.

Whatever it’s called, what matters is how it speaks to the viewer – and ART Santa Fe was among the richest conversations we’ve ever had the pleasure of participating in.

While I was falling in love with a wall sculpture by Constance DeJong at Charlotte Jackson’s space, Charlotte was praising the Loughlins at ours.

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Light and shadow can speak through copper and wood as well as glass. This DeJong Square has haunted me for the last week.

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Jess Loughlin’s kilnformed and cut panels from her View series received more attention at ASF than they’d likely have received at a fair showing blown vessels and brightly colored hot-sculpted glass.

Of course, material matters. But they don’t call it “paint art”.

It’s simply intriguing to have the work appreciated in a different context. I’m not saying a better context. Just a different one. Glass can speak as well to an audience for minimalist as well as decorative art. Artists can develop a meaningful vocabulary in a world of different media.

Furthermore, process can be as interesting to those who appreciate painting and printmaking as to those who want to watch glassblowing.

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I was delighted to see an area of ART Santa Fe devoted to “How Things Are Made” where Landfall Press demonstrated the step-by-step process of making lithographic prints.

Meanwhile, Dan & I slipped a studio tour into our itinerary: a visit to a remarkable Santa Fe artist whose encaustic work, for me at least, evokes a response as subtle, deep and meditative as that of Loughlin and Douglas.

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Phil Binaco (represented at ASF by Launchprojects) works in encaustic, in patterns and layers that are almost hopeless to capture in a photograph, but impossible to resist in the flesh – or I should probably say “in the wax”.

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Glass, wax or paint, I’ve always felt that what Mel Douglas says is helped, but not defined, by the material she uses to say it.

There is no denying that it’s a challenging climate for the arts these days. But it also feels like some of the compartmentalization of creativity is starting to dissolve – a rich reward for us all and a surprising if ironic Upside of the Downturn.

5 Responses to All’s Fair at the Art Fair

  1. jenn houser says:

    Glad you are back, very sorry for your loss.

  2. skyran says:

    no need to apologise…and to echo what jenn said – i’m glad you’re back, you’ve been missed!

    i was really saddened to hear of dan’s passing, i’d hoped to get to meet him someday. my thoughts are with you and all who knew him.

  3. Death does not have to be morbid. It is a celebration of ones life that touched MANY lives in the glass community and we are very thankful you chose to share this difficult time with all of us, and to share in your pain Lani, to help lighten the heavy load. We are all sorry for your loss and all the people he touched , soooo no apologies.
    We also missed your wonderful Blog and am glad to see you back with a flare!!!!! Thankyou for your sharing.
    Leslie

  4. Bert Weiss says:

    I want to see a Chuck Close portrait made with BE squares, fused.

  5. Lani says:

    A long-standing fantasy of ours too.

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