Thursday, April 24, 2014

What have you done for them lately?


What have you done for them lately?
"We need to get the art community to recognize stained glass as art!"
"We need to get the art community to recognize glass as an art form"
"We need to get the glass community to recognize stained glass as an art form!"
I have been to enough GAS conferences, and Facebook forums to see those folks saying "we just have to get the fine arts to recognize GLASS” so I guess stained glass is even further down the food chain.


There is so much wrong with these statements I hardly know where to begin.

Let's start with manners, shall we?  When asking a monumental favor of someone, it is the barest modicum of respect to have some basic knowledge of whom you are asking and if it might be possible for them to actually grant this favor.  First of all, there is no monolithic art world that was in a position to grant seals of approval. Secondly, could it be the glass artists and stained glass artists are blissfully unawares of the credibility issues with the Art World?  Its not like its is brimming with respectability.  Itwould appear, judging from the press the fine arts generates, that they need to spend all their resources rationalizing what 99.9% of the world finds utterly contemptible (even if they are too pompous to recognize this themselves).  Thirdly, it would be lovely, not to mention appropriate, to know that the artistic concerns of glass artists and stained glass artists are at least remotely in concert with those of "The Art World" whom they are desperately courting.  How many fine artists are role models for stained glass artists?  How many really and truly know what philosophic, technologic and aesthetic issues are "trending" these days?  Are they YOURS?  Probably not.  I rest my case.

But, you say, we don't really care about them—their approval is still what we seek, in order to sustain our dying art form!  Well, if its not some philosophic, aesthetic simpatico you are after, then it must be the money and glory you are after.  HAHAHAHAHAHA!  Don't get me started.  Glass artists are much better off, especially if they are still object makers.  They are even better off if their work is aesthetically pleasing.  Stained glass artists are even better off as they still have the church as a patron as well as some private clients.  Most artists don't make money from art at all.  Those who exhibit typically are funding their careers with second and third jobs.  They fundraise and grant write and their art is more or less supported by non-profits.
The exceptions are the super famous.  You know they are just sitting around waiting to endorse your stained glass. Because, you know, you deserve it! Uh huh, sure.

And here's a special message to the stained glass people who are concerned because they can't even get the respect of GAS and the studio class community.  Here's the history: this all began in the 1960's with Harvey Littleton who was a ceramist.  He put a hot shop in an art school. What does this have in common with the history of stained glass?  Um…exactly zero. Stained glass follows an entirely different trajectory—one that is much older and much more interesting, actually (IMHO). Later this happened: glass as a studio art form was more or less entirely popularized by Dale Chihuly. Stained glass was given a real shot in the arm in the early 20th C by Tiffany. Two artists who, I am betting, never once had whiney temper tantrums wondering why they weren’t being adored by the art world.  If you want recognition…do something to merit it.  The sense of entitlement astounds me.  What are we offering them in return??

Anyone?  Buehler?

Asking to be rescued is nauseating.  What a victim mentality. What a loser mentality!
 I don't think either glass or stained glass needs outside help.  We need less crappy work, that's for sure.  I will say this, though: at least those in the stained glass circles don't lie about why they use stained glass. They do so out of knowledge and/or love of the material. Glass artists who say they only use it because it "just so happens to be the best material for this particular sculpture" (and yet, they keep using it, now, don't they?) are dishonest and also undermining the notion that dedication to a singular material can be a path to enlightenment (as I have stated previously).

As someone who has straddled all three worlds for about 30 years, I all say this.  If it has to die, let it die, already.  Its not the worst thing that could happen (unless someone went around, Cromwell-style and destroyed all the existing work.  Or they started actually outlawing stained glass and arresting the straggling practitioners.  That would suck.) There's no way we can foist it off as "the next thing" since, obviously it was the next thing circa c1200.  And that's pretty cool, actually.  Working in a dying medium is a very interesting thing to do.  It shows intense dedication, it shows a willingness to buck trends and it shows a type of intellectual nerdiness/ nerviness I find nothing short of honorable, laudable and really, REALLY cool.
So keep going stained glass people, stained glass is dead, long live stained glass!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Doodles and drawings

Most of this stuff is very recent.  Click to embiggen.
 All of these are done in meetings, lectures and other times when I cannot pay attention if my hands are not moving.

 Judith and the head of Holofernes.  A favorite theme.  I am not sure why...
 This one is older--but unusual and I thought, interesting.
 This is my "real" sketchbook (as opposed to a note pad or some handout).  When I can I like rougher paper than Moleskine and also the lines are helpful in keeping me from trying to make a "drawing".  (When I try to make a "real drawing" I immediately default to some weird perfectionist state wherein creativity is utterly inhibited and I just repeat myself.  Which I do anyway, but why exacerbate the problem?)

This is a compilation of all the figures I have that seem promising.  Most were made by attaching sketched heads to various bodies in Photoshop, which allows me to mix and match.  This porcess brings great glee to all my obsessive tendencies and sometimes I just keep rearranging things and going in circles for what seems like eternity.  The possibilities are so dazzling and final decisions!
 These are screen captures of my "best faces" files