Friday, August 7, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
From creative stand point, Bonnie said, one piece leads to the next piece. She quoted her poetry professor at Ohio University who said “ ‘even if you’re working on this you are always working on the next one.’” Bonnie said that’s true of her glass art too.
“When I am working, I keep I my mind open to new ideas,”she said. Bonnie pointed out a seemingly obvious but a really important and interesting fact: When she is making a particular creative choice for a particular piece; she is also eliminating many other creative options. So as one design takes shape, she continues contemplating “what if I’d have done that instead of this.” And the creative journey continues.
“The more I work, the more ideas come to me: the vocabulary of shape, form, rhythm, repetition, color and light... the more choices you see, the more possibilities emerge,” she explained.
Here is a series of pictures wherein Bonnie used bones as the design element. With each piece she tried something new, something that she didn't do in the earlier piece. One piece emerged from the other. (pictures are not in the order of production).
She tries to imbibe the same outlook in her students. Bonnie is wonderful at sketching, so her stained/copper foil glass designs are original and inspiring. She encourages students to try new designs, even if they are not as accomplished as her in sketching. She showed me how anyone can create new designs using just a set square and a pen. She made a quick design on graph paper, simply letting one line lead to the other. An original design emerged before me within seconds.
She is also quite meticulous about taking notes while firing up pieces for fused glass work:detailed notes of what worked, what didn't. So, it's not just the creative instinct but also the discipline that lightens up the world of art with novelty.
The Notebook: what was right, what went wrong!
I asked her why she continued to work with glass. She said she always finds more things she can do with glass. “You could spend a lifetime but not explore all the facts,” the words revealed her true and limitless passion for glass. She also loves her teaching job. “Magic of teaching is that you are always learning,” she said." The questions from students broaden my horizon."
Charming beautiful Athens...
Bonnie enjoys living in Athens. “Athens is a very small town. But the food is very good, the music is very good, art venues are very good and the university culture is sophisticated,” she shared her love for Athens. She feels fortunate to be able to enjoy such "cultural sophistication." She goes back to New York to visit her family and when she misses big museums and Broadway.
Bonnie exhibits her work also in a gallery in Marietta called “Riverside Artists”. She has significant amount of work on display there. When she has a day off from the school, she spends time in the gallery. It’s a co-op owned by 16 artists.
Friday, July 3, 2009
This is a handheld glass cutter. You put a clear glass on a shape drawn on paper and run the cutter on the lines. I tried my hand at it. It's amazing how such a tiny thing can cut quite a thick piece of glass. Enjoyed it!
Take a look at the unassuming copper foil and the mundane solder that bring together eclectic glass pieces to form a design.
This heavey thing is used to pound glass pieces into fine powder that is used to create effects. Bonnie showed me fine powder of black glass that sparkled and shined.
Here is the big bad metal boy: the kiln. It is used to melt glass to create fused glass pieces. The kiln has a digital control panel and can handle temperature of upto 1800 degrees.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
As soon as I stepped into the studio, decorative glass art pieces on the wall caught my attention: a large half-circle shaped piece in the window, a bright colorful wall piece depicting a chicken and many other fused glass art pieces. The studio wore a busy look--it was full of materials and machinery required for Bonnie’s glass art. A huge white machine (which I later learned was a kiln) sat on one side. There were sheets of coloredglass arranged in a cabinet across from the entrance. I could picture Bonnie in the studio, engrossed in her work on a quiet summer afternoon.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Artists and the OU connection
Gloria knows most of the local artists very well and has developed rapport with them over the past number of years. The artists display their work in the store and get paid when the art work gets sold. This kind of an arrangement is not very common in the market and is a testimony to late Sue’s and Gloria’s goodwill among the local artists.
Gloria went to Ohio University between 1970-75 and majored in English. At that time she also took the glass blowing program offered at OU.
Most of the artists who showcase their work in her store are more than 50 years old and have settled in this area. Gloria said many of the artists who went to school at OU in the 70s,’ decided to live in and around Athens. At that time the land in and around Athens was inexpensive and they found Athens to be a fun place.
I wonder what has happened since. (Probably I should talk to someone in the OU art school.)
Selecting an art piece
I was curious as to how she picks artworks for the store, particularly when the customers always expect to find something unique . She said she looks up the internet,travels and reads magazines to keep abreast of new trends and new artists. Sometimes the artists test their new creative ideas by exhibiting one or two pieces in the store, to gague audience reception.
Some of the popular art pieces in her store are stain glass works of John Matz (Sunflower Glass) and ceramic cats by Mary Dewey (The Dewey Studio). Their artwork is exclusvely (in Athens) available at Court Street Collection.
Ceramic cat by Mary Dewey, sitting on top of a cabinet in the store
What was her favorite art piece? I asked her in the end. She showed me a basket of thin silver wires. At first I didn’t quite understand the magic that basket could create but when Gloria held it in the sunlight it shimmered, reflecting the sunlight, and looked incredible. It is made by a local artist, Cindy Luna, a good friend of Gloria. Cindy sells her art all around the country.
Being an artist herself, Gloria brings a unique vision to the art store. Coupled that with the community spirit, Court Street Collection is an important stroke on the local art canvas.
And one of my favorites !
I will end this post with a picture of one of my favourites: sea salt lamps. And besides looking pretty, they are also supposed to soak up the negative energy around..(Don't know how true is that?) These lamps are not locally made though.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Court Steet Collection, an art gallery/store that showcases and sells art and craftwork, is truly a wonderland for me. As the name suggests it’s on Court Street, in uptown Athens. (To be precise, the address is 64 N. Court Street.) As soon as you set foot in the shop, you will be amazed by the art work on display. The shop presents an eclectic mixture of ceramic art (vases, cutlery, and sculptures), scarves, pillow covers, frames, lamps, jewellery, and many other really interesting pieces of art for sale. There is also a variety of glass art made by using different techniques like fuse glass, stain glass, and blow glass. It’s a riot of colors, shapes, and textures. And I really like the "gallery like" feel of it.
Court Street Collection in my mind is a place that represents many artists’ passion, unbridled imagination, and creativity, under one roof. According to Gloria, the owner of the store, about 70 percent of the art work is sourced locally from the artists in and around Athens. That’s why it became the next stop on my journey to discover the art and the artists in and around Athens.
I talked to Gloria to familiarize myself with this wonderland. Gloria gave me a peek into the history of the store. It was established in 1980 as a co-op by several artists in the area, to showcase and sell their art work. The artists ran it themselves. They owned it for about two years. After that the store was bought by Jim Gleason and late Susan Gleason. “Sue really made it into the store that it is today,” Gloria said.
Though not an artist, Sue had a great taste and she loved American craft. Gloria mentioned the Gleasons attended art and craft shows in New York, Boston to bring American craft from different parts of the country to Athens.
Sue and Gloria were good friends. Gloria used to exhibit her own work—blow glass work—in Court Street Collection. That’s how she knew Sue. If the Gleasons were going for a vacation, Gloria would step in to manage the store for that time. After Sue’s death in 1998 (a battle with cancer), her family ran it for some time. Gloria managed it for them for a couple of years, before buying it from Jim Gleason two years ago.
There is an article on the wall that pays tribute to late Sue, recalls her artistic vision and captures the journey of Court Street Collection since its early days.
Though it’s a store, it doesn’t feel like a “commercial” space at all; may be because of Gloria’s artistic vision, and her warm nature. More about the store, the owner, and the artwork in later posts.