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September 4, 2007 > Fragile: Glass

Fragile: Glass

By Mekala Raman

On Friday, August 31, the Olive Hyde Art Gallery celebrated the opening of the Fragile: Glass exhibit. Continuing until September 29, the exhibit features the works of ten artists using a variety of techniques. The resulting themes include history, symbolism, and geometric designs, each mirroring the voices and beliefs of the artists who shaped them.

Artist Jaime Guerrero discovered his love for glass art while attending the California College of Arts and Crafts. His fourteen pieces displayed at this exhibit reveal his heritage and culture. "I like to compare both the ancient and the modern, to show the contemporary issues in the Latino community and compare it to the past culture," says Guerrero.

Guerrero uses the glassblowing technique to form his sculptures. He explained that for this type of glassblowing, it is important for glass to remain hot throughout the shaping process so it is essential to work very quickly. The kiln is always on so the glass stays molten. He frequently adds sand to the molten glass to produce more of it. For minute details, a blowtorch keeps the local area hot. To sculpt details, various tools are used including a wad of wet newspapers to protect his hands. Additional protection from the high heat is provided by padding his arms with socks and his regular glasses.

Guerrero likes to use layers of different colors. In order to achieve this, he gathers the glass on the blowpipe, lets it cool, paints it, and adds additional layers on top constructed in the same manner. For this exhibit, one piece is a group of three cracked skulls. For the first layer, he used black, then a white layer, and topped it off with tobacco color. In order to make the cracks, he dipped the glass in water and let it expand and form cracks naturally.

According to Guerrero, the process of glassblowing requires at least one or two well trained assistants due to the speed and accuracy required. The team must be coordinated and have good chemistry between them.

Susan Longini, also attended the California College of Arts and Crafts, used a different form of artwork in her piece, "Amphora Grande, Carnivale." The process called "pate de verre" or "paste of glass" uses different colors of glass powder instead of large pieces of glass. To make the "paste" Longini mixes these powders with water and dilute corn syrup, which holds the powders together as it dries and cools. Many artists who use molds or glassblowing must shape their glass while it is still hot. Conversely, "pate de verre" involves shaping the glass by hand before heating it up. Longini has tried different methods of glass working including stained glass, painted glass, and fused glass.

Duncan House, who attended and now teaches at the California College of Arts and Crafts, brought five pieces to this exhibit. A theme of great interest appearing in his work over the past fifteen years is the creation of everyday, household objects out of glass, asking the viewer to re-evaluate their meaning. Putting conventional items into an artistic light, people can focus on what they see and let their minds examine and reassess the meaning of their own existence.

Before delving into glasswork, House studied artwork using clay. He still uses this knowledge by sculpting molds of clay. He then blows glass through a hole in the mold and blows a bubble into it so the glass expands to take the shape of the mold with a hollow core. The mold is made of two different types of material. This combination falls apart easily with the heat needed to make the glass so it is easy to break it off.

Seven other artists including Arriane Bright, Bonnie Celeste, Carol Lawton, Maria Romeo, Peggy Pettigrew Stewart, Randy Strong and Mary White have also contributed very different styles and themes of art. Prices range from $100 to $8600. Whether to buy or simply enjoy the colors, shapes and imagination of these artists, a visit to this exhibit of unique and inspired artwork is well worth the trip.

Fragile: Glass
August 31-September 29
Thursday-Sunday 12:00-5:00 p.m.
Olive Hyde Art Gallery
123 Washington Blvd., Fremont CA 94537
(510) 791-4357

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