Glass can't possibly be an artistic medium, according to many art world authorities. Some of them think it's too pretty to be considered art. Others suggest the medium is too fragile to withstand earthquakes and the test of time.
But several independent artists ignore the critics and make art out of glass. Anyone skeptical of that notion may withdraw their doubts after a visit to the exhibit "Contemporary Glass: Form and Function" at the Finegood Art Gallery in Woodland Hills. Those already enamored of glass's attributes will delight in the sensuous qualities of almost 50 works ranging from abstract visions to functional lamps.
"I looked at it as an architectural glass show, but I included various techniques," said guest curator Ruth Summers. "Some of the pieces are maquettes of large installation pieces. Most of the artists in the exhibit have done large-scale indoor and outdoor projects."
Summers ran the Kurland/Summers gallery in West Hollywood for 11 years before it closed and she became a private dealer and art appraiser. Bringing together the work of 15 artists--12 of them from Southern California--she organized this show with the help of the Gallery of Functional Art in Santa Monica and the Patricia Correia Gallery in Venice.
"Ruth is a fine curator in this field. People know her and respect her," said Merkie Rowan, a member of the Jewish Federation Council's San Fernando Valley Art Council. Rowan came up with the idea for a glass art show and contacted Summers.
Rowan said that without Summers' expertise, she herself "might have had a more production-, more commercial-type of show. Ruth really elevated the level of the show. I didn't anticipate we could have a show of this caliber. This is more exciting and valuable to our gallery."
Steve Schauer's leaded clear glass "Longbeach Series 2" demonstrates glass's enthralling ability to play with light. The piece has been appropriately hung to interact with light, cast shadows on the gallery walls and form an energetic atmosphere that far exceeds the work itself. "Without light, you lose what the piece is about," Summers said.
For many years, Steven V. Correia did production work when he was owner and designer of Correia Art Glass. Working now as an independent artist, he finely cuts and polishes German optical crystal chunks into precisely formed sculptures such as "Magnum Diamond." His "Dichroic V Series-Maquettes" feature cable and dichroic glass, which exhibits two different colors when viewed from two different directions under transmitted or reflected light.
"It was first developed by Xerox to transmit the color in a color Xerox machine," Summers said. By walking around Correia's dichroic pieces, one can see their colors change.
Thermon Statom used commercial plate glass with found and made objects and paint in his large, boxlike constructions, "New Moon Ladder" and "Night Thing." Playing cards--especially Mexican Tarot cards--are a common element in his work.
Richard Silver's "Portal," made of cut and beveled commercial plate glass laminated with blown glass, is his largest work to date, Summers said. His large sculptures have grown out of the perfume bottles he makes.
Susan Stinsmuehlen-Amend's leaded glass and ash frame screen "Pro-Rata Lyricism" conveys the lightness and stability of architecturally oriented glass art. Deanne Sabeck incorporated glass, stone and neon in two "Fragment Series" works. They suggest an earthiness unlike most of the other pieces in the show.
The elegant "Vase 28," by Sidney Hutter, has been fashioned from commercial plate glass pieces that he cut, polished, assembled and glued. Hutter is one of 12 artists who has been commissioned to do a piece for the White House glass collection.
Other artists represented in the show are: Greg Abbott, Baron Bernstein, Christopher Lee, John Gilbert Luebtow, Paul Marioni, Michael Murphy, Dick Weiss, William Wertz.
Where and When
What: "Contemporary Glass: Form and Function" at Finegood Art Gallery, Bernard Milken Jewish Community Campus, 22622 Vanowen St., West Hills.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. Ends Jan. 31.
Call: (818) 587-3200.