If you're not quite up to date on the contemporary scene in glassmaking, or if the only glassmaking artist you can name is Dale Chihuly, then you must not miss Glass 20/20: Clear Visions at R. Duane Reed Gallery. The exhibition is a who's-who of young glassmakers and a glimpse into the current state of that ever-changing art.
By its nature, glassmaking is a communal art, requiring the strength and creativity of several people at once. The artists in this show acquired their skills working in the studios of luminaries like Chihuly and William Morris in the Pacific Northwest -- the epicenter of contemporary glass culture, home of the Pilchuck Glass School and the place to be to learn about glass.
These artists learned their craft in proximity to one another, but their works couldn't display more variety. They range from blown to sculpted glass, from smooth to textured pieces, from the humorous and narrative to the utterly abstract.
Stacey Neff's blown-glass sticks and hanging pieces are subtly textured, swollen creatures that look as if they've been mined from the ocean's floor. "Seed Bow Stick" opens to reveal strange toothlike forms on its inner walls; the "teeth" are made of hand-snipped glass bits, glued piece by piece by the artist. The effect is stunning and slightly disturbing. Karen Willenbrink's blown-glass constructions, by contrast, are highly detailed, humorous, slightly kitschy sculptures of flowers and birdbaths. Ross Richmond's small-scale figurative works, too, are delicately detailed and delightful. Their surfaces suggest stoneware, not glass. Alessandro Diaz de Santillana's incredible metallic abstract forms are breathtaking, whereas Rik Allen's "samurai" and "cyclone" works are highly textured combinations of cartoon imagery and classical architecture.
These are among the finest glass artists in the country, and this show shouldn't be missed.