Gabe Feenan: Home Shop Advantage

By Serena Berry, Museum of Glass AV Department

One of our own Artist in residence

Often found dancing around the Hotshop while wailing along to ‘80s power ballads a member of our glassblowing team, Gabe Feenan, was last week’s Visiting Artist. The self-proclaimed jokester shifted focus during the week from creating pieces for the MOGs wide breadth of artists to creating his own work.

1According to Feenan, he happened upon glass art as a profession, but after 18 years it’s plain to see that he hasn’t taken his passion for granted. As a member for our team for the last 12 years, Feenan’s had a hand in creating pieces with world-class glassblowers such as Dante Marioni and Lino Tagliapietra. He’s a guy that likes to work hard while always continuing to be a student of his craft.

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As a continuation of his previous body of work, Center of Gravity, Feenan created modern compositions comprised of blown cane and tightly assembled geometric shapes. His previous work in this series consisted of mostly blown forms colored in earth tones, inspired by the Pacific Northwest; however this week he’s going to experiment with adding more solid forms and new colors, “I’m going to work with a little bit different palate than I’ve worked with in a long time. I’m going to try to brighten it up a little bit,” said Feenan.

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The parts of these sculptures were formed simultaneously using three different teams, then assembled item-by-item by Feenan in a delicate process. The work involved in creating these pieces was misleading, in relation to their design, because although they seemed simplistic in nature once finished they took about three hours to complete on the floor. 5

Feenan felt fortunate to be working with his co-workers and friends to complete these pieces. The blowers who assisted him during the week have a combined glass working knowledge of close to 100 years. Three of whom blow glass with Feenan five days a week and operate more as a family; we saw some great work out of Gabe Feenan and his team this week. To see more sculptures from Center of Gravity Feenan currently displays his work at the Vetri International Gallery in Seattle, WA.

Docent Traver Trip 2014

By Lena Gibson, Museum of Glass Docent

On a rainy Tuesday morning, five docents (Carol, Annette, Mary, Lysa, and I), two staff
members (Elisabeth and Bonnie), and two guests made our way to the Traver Gallery in Seattle using our Sound Transit bus system. We did not all ride the same bus, and in fact, two didn’t ride the bus at all. For those of us who did, it was a lot easier than driving, once we had figured out which bus to take, where to park, etc.

Bill Traver gave us an excellent tour of his gallery. We went to see two of our favorite artists, whose exhibits were closing soon. April Surgent spent time in Antarctica and used a time lapse technique with pinhole cameras to capture the light and ice and water and wildlife of the area. She then translated the images she captured into glass, using her unique technique of cameo carving into different colored layers of fused glass. She had made quite a few pieces for this exhibit and Mr. Traver told us each were sold already. 12

Then we went to another area of the gallery to look at the latest pieces from Preston Singletary, another favorite glass artist we were well acquainted with. In this exhibit, one of the new features were that there were pieces done in pastel colors, like golden yellow and salmon pink. There were three extremely large glass baskets that came with their own stands. Many of the hand sculpted figurines on Preston’s rattles now had the addition of locks of real human hair3456

It was interesting to see other works in the Traver Gallery, from Chihuly, Nancy Callhan, and many others. We were intrigued by fused cane works from Sean Albert.
We also went downstairs and around the corner to the Vetri Gallery. We saw some very nice pieces from Gabe Feenan, as well as many other nice works by different glass artists.

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I took these photos, with the exception of the one with the pink and gold heads by Preston. That was taken by Mary Robinson.
After the galleries, most of us headed to Pike Grill Brewing Company for lunch and a chance to talk everything over. I learned a lot about Corning from Bonnie and her guest, Lee, who works there.
The bus ride home was so much easier than a drive on I-5 south at that time of day.

Shirley Klinghoffer – CRT Revisited

In conjunction with her upcoming exhibition, Shirley Klinghoffer – CRT Revisited, artist Shirley Klinghoffer will be a Visiting Artist in the Museum of Glass Hot Shop. Through her residency, she hopes to continue to tell the stories of people and families who are impacted by their battles with cancer.

In the artist’s own words:

“Cancer, especially breast cancer, has touched so many of us and our families. In a bit of irony, My life imitated my art.

I am a multimedia artist who is thrilled to be showing my slumped glass sculptures at Museum of Glass from May through October 2015. These sculptures, which reference the experience of battling breast cancer, were originally created by me in the 1990s when “pink” was not out for public awareness and “the big C” was still swept under the carpet. Years later, in 2006, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I am now revisiting this artwork from a new perspective……as a breast cancer survivor.

Going through cancer treatment has so many challenges, but somehow along the way, we connect with special people and certain objects that become truly meaningful in sustaining us through our journey and become ‘healing objects.”

Shirley took a moment to share her healing object with Museum of Glass.

Witty in Pink

Witty in Pink

“Ironically, I had just completed my first ever PINK sculpture “Witty in Pink” and hung “her” on a wall in my home the morning before I received my doctor’s phone call telling me that I had breast cancer. After hours of numbness, much later that day, I happened to look up at Witty in Pink and realized that I had created something meaningful in the strong bronze core surrounded by the fragile vintage tulle. I vowed that I would concentrate on finding my own strong core in the midst of feeling so vulnerable. It turned out that this sculpture had been hung above the last lights that I turned out before bedtime. So each night I said to Miss Witty in Pink, with a smile on my face, “Good night, darling”.

For more information about Shirley’s Healing Objects project, or to share your own healing objects and stories please visit museumofglass.org/exhibition/crt-revisited.

Chico Oktoberfest

By Sarah Gilbert, Museum of Glass Hot Shop Lead Technician

For the last several years Museum of Glass has been lucky enough to be a part of Sierra Nevada’s Oktoberfest in Chico, California. This huge celebration of malty refreshments brings in over 6,000 people every year. We are invited to bring our Mobile Hot Shop down as part of the entertainment. We work together with the great Jeff Lindsay of Cutting Edge Tools to organize local glassblowers from the area to all come together and make their wares. Jeff also organizes a live auction during the event where people can bid on items by the Oktoberfest attendees while the items are being made. All of the proceeds from this auction go to a local non-profit. It is a great way to keep the people watching and to give back to the community.

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Sarah Gilbert with the tools of the trade

For the last two years my wife and I have driven the big Mobile Hot Shop truck down to Chico. Our truck is 30 feet long with a capacity to carry 16 tons! In the truck we carry a Furnace, two glory holes, a garage, work benches, marvers, and everything else you might need to blow glass…just about anywhere.

Mobile Hot Shop Truck

Mobile Hot Shop Truck

Becca Chernow and Rich Langley were the artists that we would be collaborating with during our trip. Two days prior to the event, we met with them to off load all the equipment and get it hot in time for everyone to work.  We also got a great tour of the brewery while we were down there.  If you are a fan of Sierra Nevada you might recognize the labels- they are already making their holiday brew- “Celebration” beer in October!

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Sierra Nevada Brewery

It is always a pleasure to make it down to Chico and be a part of this event!  I look forward to many more years of good times in Chico!

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Chico Oktobertfest

A Day in the Life of a Hot Shop Intern

By Hannah Fields, Museum of Glass Grant Manager

As the Grants Manager for Museum of Glass, I spend my days writing, creating budgets, strategizing, and researching. I came to this job on a winding path, however, and that path included taking a glassblowing class in High School twenty years ago. So when given the opportunity to be the “Hot Shop Intern for a Day”, I jumped at the chance! I love glassblowing; it is the reason I work at Museum of Glass.  I love the immediacy, the teamwork, and the sublime sensuality of the material.

On the day of my internship, I arrived with chocolate chip cookies for the team to thank them for the opportunity. They were very appreciative. Before the Museum opened, the real Hot Shop Intern, a UWT student, Danny, showed me the ropes.  I was going to be operating the doors of the glory hole.  No problem, I thought.  I can do this. The glory hole has three sets of doors each larger than the last. The doors are opened as the artist brings the piece to be heated, and then closed as the piece is brought back to the gaffer’s bench to be worked. Open, close. Open, close. Repeat. Repeat.

You might think this sounds boring, but I had the greatest time operating those doors!  I got to see really up close what Ben, Gabe, and Niko were making, and how effortless they make blowing and sculpting glass look. I got to hear them sing along to terrible easy listening hits of the 1970s and 1980s (think Hall and Oats and Toto)—they know ALL the words—it was hilarious. I got to listen to them communicate to each other in a strange shorthand language as they created each piece. I got to feel like a member of the team.

My day as a Hot Shop Intern inspired me. It inspired me to find more humor in my days; to find more joy in my work; and to remember just what my work at Museum of Glass supports—the endurance of the creative spirit. It was the best day I’ve had in a really long time.

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Hannah Fields talking to Visiting Artist Barbara Earl Thomas while working in the Hot Shop.

Thank you to the amazing Hot Shop team for making me feel so welcome in their home and for sharing their spirit of generosity, humor, teamwork, and fun.

The Forest through the Trees

By Katie Phelps, Museum of Glass Curatorial Assistant/Visiting Artist Coordinator

I met Landscape by Beth Lipman (American, 1971) and Ingalena Klenell (Swedish, 1949) three years ago as a graduate student at University of Washington’s Museology program. We came to Museum of Glass for one of my class field trips, and Landscape definitely made an impression. If you haven’t had a chance to see the piece, it is truly breath-taking. It is a 3D, 31×18 foot collage made of 425 thin pieces of glass that hang from the ceiling or sit on the ground to compose a wintery landscape.

Landscape, installed at Museum of Glass as a part of the exhibition Glimmering Gone - Ingalena Klenell and Beth Lipman which was on display August 21, 2010 – March 11, 2012.

Landscape, installed at Museum of Glass as a part of the exhibition Glimmering Gone – Ingalena Klenell and Beth Lipman which was on display August 21, 2010 – March 11, 2012.

As I sat on a bench looking at the piece, I turned to one of my classmates and said “Man, I feel sorry for the guys who have to take that down.” Turns out…one of those guys is me. Last week I traveled with our exhibition designer, Lynette Martin, to Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa, where the Landscape had been on loan since February 2014. Our mission? To successfully take the piece down and pack it in crates, all while documenting the location of each piece so that we can hang Landscape the same way at future venues. Imagine you just completed a 500 piece puzzle. And, now that you’re finished, you have to write instruction as you put it away, so that the next person can put it back together exactly the same way. That is a good way to think about our process. Here’s how we did it: 1. Number each of the pieces using pieces of blue tape and Sharpie.

The forest, complete with blue tape numbers.

The forest, complete with blue tape numbers.

2. Take lots of photographs! We use these photographs to help decipher where each piece of glass goes, along with how to orient it top to bottom. Since all of the pieces are clear, we use a black piece of tagboard to create some contrast between layers.

We used black tag board to make the individual pieces of the fir tree more visible.

We used black tag board to make the individual pieces of the fir tree more visible.

3. Trace the outline of each piece directly onto the floor using a Sharpie. The result was a huge, numbered, template that described which piece goes where and corresponds to the photographs and numbers. We took a large sheet of plastic and traced over the floor, giving us a map that we can use for the next installation.

The base of the fir tree, with rocks numbered and traced on the deck.

The base of the fir tree, with rocks numbered and traced on the deck.

Those three steps got us through all 425 pieces of glass. It took a team of 6 people about 140 hours to take the piece apart, all while surviving near-record temperatures and humidity, along with a close encounter with a tornado. We couldn’t have done it without Andrew, Robin, Steve and Justin – the fabulous crew at Figge Art Museum. Now that it’s all said and done, we’ll organize our notes and be ready to assemble the piece at the next exhibition venue. Until next time Landscape!

Postcard From Beijing

Museum of Glass curator David Francis, who took a five month leave of absence to join his family in China, has sent us an update on how his stay in Beijing is going. It appears he’s getting a bit homesick.

Postcard front

Postcard back