Posts Tagged ‘Corning Museum of Glass’

Judith Schaechter- Cold Genius CMOG

Judith Schaechter- Cold Genius CMOG

I’ve been thinking a lot about stained glass lately, both as the influence it has been on my work and as a possible future foray.  Growing up around Corning, glass was always in high visibility and trying to capture some of the luminosity of glass was always a goal in my work.  My fondness for the use of defining lines in my paintings most likely stems from a deep affection for stained glass.

When the new (and spectacular!) Contemporary Art + Design Wing opened recently at the Corning Museum of Glass, among all of the epic glass works it was a more modest sized piece of stained glass tucked away to one side that most caught my eye.  It was from Philadelphia-based stained glass artist Judith Schaechter and it was titled Cold Genius.  The photo of it at the top does not do it justice, doesn’t capture the inner glow created by the integrated lightbox.  Believe me when I say it is a striking piece of art.

Judith Schaechter -Wreck of the Isabella 2005

Judith Schaechter -Wreck of the Isabella 2005

I knew nothing of the work of Judith Schaechter beforehand but this image just triggered something.  Looking her up and  finding her work on her website as well a number of others, I discovered that she was one of the pioneers in modern stained glass, having been at the forefront of the medium for over 30 years.  I was overwhelmed by her productivity, her creativity and innovation as well as the consistency of her vision. As I’ve shown here before, one of my ways of quickly taking in an artist’s personal style is in viewing a page of their work on Google.  As you can see at the bottom, Schaechter’s work has a completeness of voice that any artist would envy.

While it is often macabre in nature, it is always beautiful having a transcendent quality that glows from within.  It feels both contemporary and timeless, which is the goal of any artist.

It was hard to not be in awe and easy to be inspired, to see things in her work that fed my own desire for expression, that set off pangs of wanting to make an attempt in that medium.   It’s not a feeling I often experience with many contemporary artists so you can understand my excitement at finding her work.

The few images and my short paragraphs here may not fully do her work justice. Check out her work for yourself on her website.  It includes a very interesting project where she installed windows at the infamous Eastern State Penitentiary in Philly.  There’s also a great recent  interview online that is very enlightening– I think many artists will see many things that  jibe with their own experiences.

Judith Schaechter- Google Image Screenshot

Judith Schaechter Eastern State Penitentiary Project

Judith Schaechter Eastern State Penitentiary Project

Judith Schaechter -Battle of Carnival and Lent /Eastern State Pen.

Judith Schaechter -Battle of Carnival and Lent/ Eastern State Pen.

Judith Schaechter Joan_of_Arc 2007

Judith Schaechter Joan_of_Arc 2007

Judith schaechter_23_birthofeve

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CMOG New Wing 2015It’s a very big day in this area as the new Contemporary Art + Design Wing of the Corning Museum of Glass officially opens to the public.

It’s a 100,000-square-foot addition to an already magnificent museum experience, including a state-of-the-art glass-blowing amphitheater that seats 500 and a 26,000-square-foot  space for the display of contemporary art glass, making it the largest such space anywhere.  This allows the museum to now display the very largest art glass pieces in its collections.

There is incredible glass art on display inside but the building itself  might qualify as the largest piece of glass art on the site.  Designed by architect Thomas Phifer, its exterior appears as a luminous white glass cube that reflects the outer environment.   Because contemporary glass is basically not subject to damage from light exposure, Phifer was able to design a museum space unlike any other.  The roof itself is a sort of whole-building skylight that, along with the translucent glass exterior walls, bathes the glass art in a constant glowing light.

CMOG InteriorThe interior features amorphous walls that snake through the space–not a corner to be seen.  Even the glass protective panels that surround some of the displays feel special  in this space.  They are made from ultra-thin Gorilla Glass ( a Corning product that is probably the screen your smartphone) and reportedly have an ethereal , barely there feel.

I am very excited for this addition and for the museum.  As I said, it is already a fantastic museum experience and this only takes it to a much higher level.  So make your plans and come to Corning.  In the Finger Lakes of New York with all its many wineries, we have a world-class museum of glass as well as the  Rockwell Museum, great glass studios, art galleries, shops and restaurants.  Hey, if you’re in the area in July  I hear there will be a show at the West End Gallery that you probably should catch.

Here’s video from the Corning Museum of Glass where they talk about the new addition and their hopes for it. Below it are a couple of the pieces that will be on display.

CMOG Evening Dress with Shawl Karen LaMonte Zelezny Brod 2004

Evening Dress with Shawl – Karen LaMonte, Zelezny Brod 2004


Carrona (Carrion)

Carrona (Carrion)- Javier Perez 2011


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Murrine Glass by Loren StumpI came across this photo of a piece of murrine glass, which is made in long rods that contain patterns that run trough the entire length of the rod.  When the rod is cut at any point it reveals the same pattern.  It is normally done on a small scale that results in small cut discs with colorful patterns that are used in jewelry and in glass paperweights, among other things.  This masterwork of the form, done  by Sacramento-based artist Loren Stump, takes the form to a grand scale with a Renaissance-inspired scene with several full figures and a wonderful dark background that sets off the deep colors.  You can see more of his work at his website, Stumpchuck, or you can take a week long class with him at the nearby Corning Museum of Glass at the end of July.

Seeing this work reminded me of when I worked at the old A&P factory many years ago.  It was a huge building that sprawled over 37 acres that made all sorts of foods.  They claimed it had the capacity to produce enough each day to feed everyone east of the Mississippi.  In my time there,  I worked a number of jobs throughout the plant from  cleaning out the antique looking machines that bagged and sewed the teabags that were filled with tea that came from wooden crates with exotic markings and locales like Ceylon and scouring the inside of huge semolina tanks in the pasta department to making all forms of candy– jelly beans, candy corn, chocolate covered cherries, etc.

One thing I never did was make the rock candy which so reminds me of the murrine glass.   But I really enjoyed seeing them make it.

Cut-Rock-CandyI would often stop while passing through the hard candy department and watch the workers work the masses of glass-like candy on tables with mechanical arms that came in from each side to knead the candy into a ball.  They would then place the mass on heated rollers that would turn the mass into a uniform roll.  They would take these rolls of various colors and arrange them into patterns within one large roll on those same rollers.  They would then hoist the larger roll onto a machine that had telescoping rollers that fed the candy into a machine that stretched it until it was small enough to cut into bite size chinks of candy, like those shown just above.  It was fascinating to watch as were many of the processes there.

It seems like there is little in common between this candy and the work of Mr. Stump, which is shown in more detail below, but it is the same basic principle.  I wonder if you can buy cut rock candy with such an elaborate design?Murrine Glass Detail Loren Stump

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John LaFarge- Samoan Dancing a Standing Siva 1909I am a big fan of stained glass windows.  It has influenced my work in many ways, from trying to emulate the brilliance and glow of the colors to the way in which I see and compose my work.  I have been lucky enough to live in an area with access to the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany who is easily the best known and most stylish of stained glass makers.  The Corning Museum of Glass has a number of his pieces, which are remarkable,  as do several churches in the area.

But there is someone to rival, if not eclipse, the works of Tiffany, someone who actually paved the way for Tiffany’s work with his innovative work in stained glass.  This was John LaFarge.  I can’t remember the exact piece or location of the first time I saw his work except that it was somewhere in NYC.  But I do remember the stunning colors and the lead work which held the glass pieces together.  It  was so different than that of other stained glass windows I had seen which was normally clean and neat, fitting for the solemnity of a church.  But the LaFarge lead work I saw was rough and dark, dividing the opalescent glass but also becoming part of the composition in itself.  His lines were organic and integral to the composition.  It was remarkable.

I came across the image shown above recently,  Samoan Dancing a Standing Siva, in a book about LaFarge’s travels to Tahiti and other South Pacific islands in the early 1890’s and about how this expedition changed his work.  It’s interesting that the other artist whose work was transformed by Tahiti, Paul Gauguin, arrived on the island just days after LaFarge departed.

This piece of stained glass excites me very much in the use of line, especially in the naturalness and organic feel of them, as well as the contrast between the brilliance of the colors and the the darknesses that surround them.  To me,this is simply magnificent, possessing those things that I want to see in my own work.

There is a Pinterest page with many of LaFarge’s more famous stained glass pieces, most of which are a bit more formal than this piece above.  But it gives a nice overview of his work on one page.  To see it click here.

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Van Gogh The Bedroom detail from Google ArtAs though I have been searching for more ways to kill time, I have spent well over an hour already this morning just clicking on images on what might be my new favorite website, the Art Project at the  Google Cultural Institute.  It’s a collection of great paintings and objects of art from around the world, all photographed in stunning detail that allows you to get closer, in many cases, than you could ever get at any museum.  Some are photographed in a Gigapixel  mode that allows you to be almost part of the surface.

Van Gogh The Bedroom  from Google ArtFor example, one of the first images I came across was The Bedroom  from Vincent Van Gogh, a favorite of mine shown here on the left in its entirety.  Whenever I see a Van Gogh in person I always want to get as close as I can to  see the fervid brushstrokes that give the pieces so much life and energy.  I have been asked to step away from the paintings in the past but with this site can now zoom in to a level that my eyes (and security guards) would never allow in a museum.

Van Gogh The Bedroom mid-level detail from Google ArtThe images here to the  right  and at the top are of one of the rungs of yellow chair’s back in the center of the painting.  The top image is magnified to a high level but there is still another level beyond this to which it can be magnified.  I can see the canvas under the strokes, the varnish’s darkened surface in the crevices and the craquelure (cracking) of the oil paints.  I feel like I am seeing Van Gogh working on the painting, can see how his mind is forming the image on the canvas.  It deepens the whole sensation of the painting for me.

What a great site!  On a local level,  this site features over 1000 items from our own Corning Museum of Glass.  There are incredible views of glass objects from antiquity up to modern art pieces.

Well, I have just a little more time to spend this morning so I better get back to looking at some super details of great art.  Check it out!

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The Stained Glass Bridge- Thomas Buechner

We are heading off this morning for a memorial service for the late  Tom Buechner, a man of many talents ( including those as an artist, writer, curator, art historian and teacher) who passed away on June 13th.  The memorial is being held at the beautiful Christ Episcopal Church in Corning which, with its great stained glass windows, brings to mind one of Tom’s dreams that never reached fruition, unfortunately.

The Chemung River cuts the city of Corning into two halves and there are two active bridges that span the often lazy river.  There is also a third bridge, the old Centerway Bridge that sits right next to the newer Centerway Bridge, that was built in the 1970’s, leaving the old bridge to sit idly by acting only as a wide pedestrian bridge between the downtown Market Street district on one side and the Corning Museum of Glass on the other. 

Buechner saw this idle bridge and its scenic perch above the river as a waste of an asset.  In his creative mind he saw it as something more, as a foundation for a structure rising from it, one that would celebrate Corning’s glass heritage and fame.  Stained glass, in particular.  He saw the bridge holding a world class museum and facility for the study of stained glass, a natural extension of the present Glass Museum which draws glass scholars from all over the world.

It would sit above the river and have glass panels on each side that would permit the freeflow of light through the panels on display, giving the outside of the building a colorful gleam.  At night, it would glow above the river in the glorious colors of so many stained glass windows.  It would have been quite a sight to see and would have become, no doubt, a great addition to Corning’s lure as a tourist destination.

But it was a big dream for this small city and never came about.  Money, structural concerns, etc.  They all conspired to leave the stained glass bridge as a seed in Tom Buechner’s mind.  This past year, at his October exhibit at the West End Gallery in Corning, he displayed the painting above which showed his concept for the museum.  I remember being excited at seeing this piece because the idle bridge always seemed to be sitting there, waiting to be transformed into something.  A phoenix hovering in the ashes.

There’s still hope that someone will recognize the beauty of this dream and let the phoenix rise.  But it’s doubtful now that Tom has passed, taking with him his vision and his passion.  But at least the idea and the dream still remain. 

Imagine a lazy summer evening and, as dusk breaks, the deep colors of many stained glass windows cast their rich light over the river …

Present Day Old Centerway Bridge in Painting from Tom Buechner

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Tom Buechner In His Studio-- Photo by Barbara Hall Blumer

Tom Buechner died Sunday, June 13, at his home in Corning  after a short time after being diagnosed with lymphoma.  He was 83 years old.   He is survived by his wife, Mary, and his three  children.

I don’t know how you would characterize Tom’s career, it being so multi-faceted.  He did so many things in so many areas, all at the highest levels.  He was a true man of accomplishment.

 He was well known in the museum world, having started the Corning Museum of Glass, which evolved into the world-class facility it is today,  before leaving to head the Brooklyn Museum throughout the 1960’s.  He was president of Steuben Glass, the company that produced some of the finest American crystal and art glass ever made.  He also was instrumental, serving as President for a decade,  in the formation of the Rockwell Museum in Corning, which has the largest collection of Western Art east of the Mississippi.

He was a leading glass scholar, being one of the biggest authorities on  the work of art glass pioneer Frederick Carder.  He wrote the glass section for the Encylopedia Brittanica.   He also wrote a best-selling book, Norman Rockwell: Artist and Illustrator, that  is one of the definitive works on the great American artist.

He is perhaps best known as a painter.  Trained as a young man at the Art Students League in NY and the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, Tom maintained a passion for painting throughout his life.  His landscapes, still-lifes and  portraits are highly sought after in the many galleries throughout this country that represent his work and hang in many fine collections and museums, including the Metroplitan Museum and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.  His portrait of Alice Tully hangs in the hall named for her at Lincoln Center in NY.

In this area, he was also the biggest influence in our local art community.  Generations of artists benefitted from his talent and knowledge,  many taking his well-known classes in painting as well as painting with him on a more casual basis, in weekly get-togethers.  His influence on local painters was so strong that when I first started going to the West End Gallery, I would have to go from painting to painting to check the signatures because so many of the painters had adopted his style and palette from their time with him.   He was also a huge presence behind the scenes of many local organizations and events, something that probably went unnoticed by many.

That’s just a quick thumbnail version of one hell of a life in art.  There are so many other aspects to his talents that it could go on for many more paragraphs.

Now, I didn’t know Tom well at all.  We talked several times briefly in the gallery, usually about his work, which had a classical appearance.  Actually, I wasn’t sure he was even aware of my work until one evening when he showed up unexpectedly at one of the openings  for a show of mine at the West End.  As I was talking with a lady before a painting, he came up and asked if he could interrupt.  He then gave me several minutes of exuberant praise, telling me that he envied me for creating a body of work that had its own distinct look and feel, that was instantly recognizable as mine.  I think my mouth was hanging open in shock as he turned and was gone.  The lady  that had been speaking with me  gasped out, “Oh my god!  That was amazing!  You should have recorded that.”

I was giddy, trembly inside.  Even though I was well along and fairly well established in my career, I was shocked that these few words of praise meant so much to me, that they affected me so much.  I felt validated.  I felt changed in some way.  To me, Tom Buechner represented  the established art world and even though I never sought its acceptance, to be received so heartily made me feel very … well, I can’t even describe how it made me feel.  It remains one of the highlights of my career.

I think that says a lot about Tom Buechner’s magnitude, that a few brief, kind words given at an opening could make me feel completely different about my own work.  For that moment alone, I will always have a place in my heart for Tom Buechner. 

May his spirit live on…


The photo of Tom from the top  of this post is from the book , In Their Studios: Artists & Their Environments, from photographer Barbara Hall Blumer.  Here are a couple of  pieces from Tom’s body of work,,,

Leslie-- Thomas Buechner

My Still Life– Thomas Buechner


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