Where's the Glass?

2009-12-04 10:56:23
1.ArtMiamiExtwW As the only gallery at Art Miami showing exclusively art made of glass, we’ve been the seed for some provocative conversations. I was asked by a press person and more than one collector of contemporary glass whether I thought  that there had been an effort to keep glass out of the art fairs in Miami. 2.AMintwW As this is our first time doing the fair, it's not easy for me to comment on the larger picture. I can, however, speak for our own gallery and the art – that happens to be made of glass – that we have brought. It has been exceptionally well-received. Jessica Loughlin’s minimalist panels have received strong accolades by many of the other dealers. Jamie&-JLOw Loughlin's Awash 3 (upper right) was our first work of the fair to sell. A local museum curator called April Surgent’s work “the most interesting at this year’s show” ASUpanelsW Surgent's Dissolution's Fortunes (foreground) was our second sale. A respected collector of contemporary art explained to me at some length that Richard Whiteley’s sculptural forms were the “bridge” that is needed between glass and mainstream fine art. (receiving rather than delivering lectures on this subject is always a treat) WhiteleyW Whiteley's Two Chambers (left) and Periscope (right), holding their breath - and their own - at Art Miami. The bridge between art and design was crossed more than once with countless conversations about the Loughlin-designed glass slab counter. JLOSlabW Despite the absence of a large glass contingent at Art Miami, I saw and heard no strong bias against the material per se. And some in the audience were quick to point out that the acceptance of glass as an artmaking medium has strong precedents in works by Christopher Wilmarth, Larry Bell, Josiah McIlheny, Judith Schaechter etc etc etc. The fact that there is so little glass at Art Miami, made it easy to quickly spot what there is. And I was happy to have our artists represented within this small group. At the front of Art Miami’s 86,000 square feet of fair space, taste-setting New York dealer Barry Friedman showed some striking Yoichi Ohira forms. I read the suggestion of deflated bottles and the solid clarity of the pieces as a statement on the direction of contemporary glass. OhiraW Also showing glass amidst their mix of  edgy contemporary media  is the Duesseldorf and Toronto-based gallery,  Lausberg Contemporary, representing Marta Klonowska. Klonowska’s “cutting edge” figures are drawn from imagery in classical painting and provide a fascinating twist on the position of this material within the greater history of art. MKL_LynxW Lynx (after Albrecht Dürer) above, and a small blue dog inspired by 17th century portraits by Hendrick Munnichhoven, below, break many of our material expectations and reconfigure them in playful and thoughtful ways: MKL_BlueDogW Of course, for sheer beauty – something that glass delivers with such ease and elegance -  there are always the haunting female figures of Nicolas Africano. NAFgirlW ….with the occasional male form, delicate, vulnerable, and perfectly cast in steely blue. Both shown by New York dealer Nancy Hoffman. NAFIndigoBoyW So. Where's the  glass? The best is here. I don’t see a conspiracy to exclude it. I see only some very high standards and the opportunity to engage in a different dialogue. Like any art form, glass needs to push itself. And a perception of discrimination may not be the worst stimulus to drive the medium beyond its occasionally easy posture. UPDATE after Saturday 5 December: We've had an endless stream of visitors through the booth since last Tuesday, many of whom we know from the Glass World. 2.Billww Bill Carlson, artist and art faculty member at the University of Miami, stopped by with wife Annie. Bill, normally so loquacious on the topic of glass and contemporary art, wagged a quick finger, held his tongue, then cast a keen and approving eye into the work of his former graduate assistant. 3.Billseyeww I'm calling this one "Billseye Glass".... 4.Hairbillww ...and this one "Happy Hairbill"...