A Glass Trip with the Asheville Art Museum

July 13, 2012

By Gwynne Rukenbrod

I had the wonderful opportunity to lead a glass focused tour sponsored by the Asheville Art Museum on June 5th.  For those of you who might not know, I am trained as a glass blower and have a deep passion for the craft.  So having the opportunity to visit some local glass artists made me very excited.

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Pablo Soto incised vessels, courtesy of Penland School of Craft

Our first stop was the Penland Focus Gallery where glass artists Pablo Soto has a solo exhibition called “Incised Glass.”  Pablo’s work focuses on form, line, and color.  This new body of work explores concepts he thought about when looking at the shadows and shapes cast by ice formed on the skylight in his studio.  The surfaces are gently marred and create wonderful shadows when lit.

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Our next stop was Penland’s glass studio to visit Rick Beck’s class.  They were in the middle of a sand cast pour.  This is where you take damp sand and push various designs into the sand.  Then you ladle hot molten glass into the impressions and when it cools, it has the shape and details of the impression you made in the sand.  Here are some pictures of the students pouring their pieces.

The next stop was a delicious lunch aPenland’s dining hall.  Then on to Penland glass resident, Micah Evans’ new studio.  Micah is a glass artist who works at the torch, manipulating glass.  ImageHere is a picture of what he called a quilt.  It is made of beautiful and delicate lacelike glass. Micah moved to Penland from Austin Texas, so welcome fellow Texan to North Carolina!

Our final Penland Mountain stop was the flameworking studio of Shane Fero.  Shane’s studio is attached to his house.  Shane makes these colorful spirited birds and totems.  ImageShane uses colored powders, shards of glass, and sometimes evens stained glass to color his pieces.  Here Shane demonstrates making one of his birds.

Our next stop was the Energy Xchange located in Burnsville.  Located on top of the old Mitchell-Yancey landfill, the Xchange uses the methane from the landfill to power the ceramic kilns, and the glass studio equipment.  The Xchange has been in operation since 2001, using renewable resources and practices for educational opportunities and economic development in the fields of art and horticulture.

We stopped to visit the ceramic artists, Lisa Gluckin and Bridget Fox.  Also in residence at the Xchange is Will Baker, Joy Tanner, and Tersea Pietsch.  We then moved into the glass studio where new resident artist Amber Marshall was working on grinding some of her pieces.  Grinding is a cold working technique used in glass to often grind the bottom of a piece.  The other glass resident , Michael Hatch demonstrated making a blown and sculpted piece of a surfer on a wave.

ImageIt was  a great day of celebrating and sharing the craft of glass.  The tour was given in conjunction with the Asheville Art Museum’s “Fire on the Mountain” exhibition and the 50th celebration of the glass studio movement in the US.

For information about what is offered at the Asheville Art Museum go to their website at www.ashevilleart.org

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