Hindsight is 1921: Reflections on Lalique Near the End of the Pandemic

Written by Katie Buckingham, Curator 

Now that I’m a year into a pandemic, I completely understand why the Roaring Twenties followed the Spanish Flu. I don’t know about you, but after 356 days (and counting) of being marooned in a box on Zoom, I could really use a bigger place. And a fun party. And some new things. 

MOG’s newest exhibition, René Lalique: Art Deco Gems from the Steven and Roslyn Shulman Collection, showcases the pinnacle of Lalique’s career in glass. And, after the last 12 months, I appreciate it from a new perspective. Of course the survivors of World War I and the 1918 influenza pandemic felt the desire to reinvent themselves and live in excess!  

René Lalique (French, 1860–1945) Deux cavaliers (Two Horsemen) Table Centerpiece, 1920 Mold-pressed glass; bronze base 10 × 36 1/4 × 4 in. Promised gift of Steven and Roslyn Shulman Photo by Duncan Price

Their drive to be reborn led to a decade of consumption and revelry that became known as the Roaring Twenties. Lalique’s Art Deco designs are both art and artifact, representing the era’s luxurious aesthetics and the era’s new technologies and social changes.  

The Deux cavaliers (Two Horsemen) table centerpiece is a dramatic composition of two horsemen, poised mid-duel. By the 1920s, many homes had electric lighting. Lalique took advantage of this new technology, designing statement lighting fixtures like this, with enough presence to replace the now-old fashioned candelabras and chandeliers.  

René Lalique (French, 1860–1945) Roscae figurines (Rosette Figurines) Perfume Bottle for Maison Lalique Mold-blown and mold-pressed glass, enamel 4 3/8 × 4 3/8 × 3/4 in. Promised gift of Steven and Roslyn Shulman Photo by Duncan Price

Partly as a result of the suffrage movement, women took center stage in the 1920s. Known as Flappers, these women pushed economic, political, and social boundaries, and their independence sent waves through the design world. Lalique created bottles, like Roscae figurines (Rosette Figurines), with a sculptural eye. They were talismans, representing the sophistication and vibrant independence of their owners.  

Standing in the exhibition, I can’t help but hope we are at the beginning of another Roaring Twenties. I wonder if people from 1920 dreamed of the “after pandemic” with the same visions of celebratory excess that I hope will follow this immensely trying year. I’d like to think so.  

Temporary Museum Closure: How to Stay Connected and Support MOG

Per the direction of Washington state governor Jay Inslee, Museum of Glass is closed through Monday, December 14, 2020 to help curb the spread of COVID-19. We’re saddened to close our doors after just 45 days of reopening, but we’re committed to doing our part in protecting the health and safety of our community and staff.

However, there is good news.

While in-person Museum operations are impacted, there are other, dare we say, great ways to connect with and show your support for MOG.

Museum Store
The MOG Store remains open Friday–Sunday, 10am–5pm. Online shopping is also available at museumofglassstore.org and new products will be dropping over the next days and weeks, so check back often.

In addition, you can get your holiday crafting on with one of our free project kits for dreidels, snowflakes, and candy canes. Pick up yours in the Museum Store starting November 27, 2020.

Junior Curator Academy
Introducing Junior Curator Academy, an interactive mini-series focusing on art objects and installations at Museum of Glass. Listen in as our hosts talk to artists, Museum staff, and subject matter experts as they explore the creative process, influences, and materials used in individual works of art you can find at the Museum.

New Exhibition Alert
Previously scheduled to open on November 27, 2020, René Lalique: Art Deco Gems from the Steven and Rosyln Shulman Collection, will be on view when MOG reopens to the public. Don’t worry, you won’t have to wait that long for a sneak peek. Stay tuned for an opportunity to take a virtual look at this highly anticipated exhibition.

Glass Break
Continue to tune into Glass Break every Monday to watch clips of live glassblowing in the MOG Hot Shop with narration by Emcee Walter Lieberman.

You’ll hear more from us soon. Stay safe and we’ll get through this together. 

The Robert M. Minkoff Collection Gifted to Museum of Glass

Karen LaMonte (American, born 1967)
Child’s Dress, 2007
Kiln cast glass
18 × 21 × 20 in.
Collection of Museum of Glass, gift of Robert M. Minkoff Foundation

Museum of Glass is honored to announce that we received a seminal collection of artwork showcasing the development of glass as a studio and contemporary art medium from the Robert M. Minkoff Foundation. Adding these 400 works of art from Robert Minkoff’s personal collection makes the Museum’s glass holdings the largest in the Western United States.

We are honored and grateful to receive this gift from the Minkoff Foundation. This is the first major Studio Glass collection given to the Museum and it is transformational for us. Its comprehensive representation of glass artists, both nationally and internationally, provides a foundation for MOG to tell vital stories of studio and contemporary glass.

– Debbie Lenk, Executive Director

William Morris (American, born 1957)
Petroglyph Vessel, Turquoise Lip Wrap, 1987
Hand blown glass with glass powders
11 × 25 × 25 in.
Collection of Museum of Glass, gift of Robert M. Minkoff Foundation

Minkoff was a collector, a collector that celebrated the incredible diversity of glass art and its possibilities in the field of contemporary art. His passion and collecting philosophy complements Museum of Glass, which makes this gift so special to us. Minkoff’s collection includes several incredible artists, such as Jaroslava Brychtová, Stanislav Libenský, Klaus Moje, Debora Moore, William Morris, Paul Stankard, Therman Statom, and Lino Tagliapietra. The collection also provides a look at innovative new approaches to the material by artists including Steffan Dam, Luke Jerram, Silvia Levenson, Beth Lipman, and Karen LaMonte.

MOG will celebrate this significant gift with a major exhibition honoring Minkoff and his collection, with accompanying educational programming, opening in Spring 2022. It will be accompanied by a catalog highlighting the breadth of the collection.

Currently, you can view A Glimpse at the Robert M. Minkoff Foundation Collection at Museum of Glass. This installation opened on October 15 and is proudly displayed in our Grand Hall.

To learn more about The Robert M. Minkoff Collection, view the full press release at: The Robert M. Minkoff Collection Gifted to Museum of Glass

Behind the Gray Walls: Installing Into the Deep

By Katie Buckingham, Assistant Curator

Most of my job is a lot like every other office job. My desk is in a cubicle, and I usually spend my days attending meetings and hopping between Word, Excel, and Microsoft Office. But, one of my favorite parts of my job is when I get to escape my desk and step behind our gray temporary walls to install the art in our exhibitions.

img_2783

Working on one of our newest exhibitions, Into the Deep, is one of my favorite projects so far – partially because the work in the exhibition presented some interesting challenges, and partially (ok, mostly) because it is a show I’ve been working on curating for almost two years. It was an amazing experience to finally meet artwork I had only seen in photos and to stand in 3D space that I had only been visualizing on paper.

One of my curatorial goals was to give visitors a sense of the diverse number of ways you can use glass to make art. To fulfill this goal I looked for artwork that was as different as possible from the hand-sculpted vase or bowl many you probably have at home. This goal had a fun side-effect for me – several of the pieces in the exhibition presented our Curatorial team with some unique installation challenges.

Blue Dome, by Seattle-based artist Kait Rhoads, is a giant (almost 9-foot tall) dome covered with individual blue glass scales. Visitors are encouraged to stand inside the dome and look up to feel like they are standing underwater.

Kait Rhoads (American, born 1995). Blue Dome, 1995. Single-strength plate glass, cut, drilled and fired with glass enamels; Courtesy of the artist.
Kait Rhoads (American, born 1995). Blue Dome, 1995. Single-strength plate glass, cut, drilled and fired with glass enamels; Courtesy of the artist.

Fortunately, we didn’t have to attach each of the scales individually. The dome structure is made from a sturdy, steel frame. Kait Rhoads created a system where sheets of scales (attached individually to chicken wire) could be hung in sections across the metal frame.

Artist Kait Rhoads (in center of dome) works with MOG art handler Elizabeth Mauro to connect a section of glass scales to the steel frame. On the left of the frame, you can see small tags that are used to mark the connection points for the sections of scales.
Artist Kait Rhoads (in center of dome) works with MOG art handler Elizabeth Mauro to connect a section of glass scales to the steel frame. On the left of the frame, you can see small tags that are used to mark the connection points for the sections of scales.

img_2577
Art installation is definitely a team effort. Here, Rebecca Engelhardt (MOG’s Exhibition/Collections Manager) and Kait Rhoads hold a section of scales on the outside of the dome, while art handler Elizabeth Mauro secures the section to the frame with wire.

It took a team of 4 people almost 6 hours to install Blue Dome.
It took a team of four people almost six hours to install Blue Dome.

Two Seas, by Shayna Leib is another piece which took a whole team to hang on the wall. Leib is an avid scuba diver, and each of the frames in this piece represent species of coral, sea grass, or anemone seen through the lens of her underwater camera. Each of the frames is teeming with life, made from fragile, individually-sculpted pieces of glass.

Shayna Leib (Americna, born 1975). Two Seas, 2012. Glass, silver leaf and resin; Courtesy of the artist. Photo by Eric Tadsen.
Shayna Leib (Americna, born 1975). Two Seas, 2012. Glass, silver leaf and resin; Courtesy of the artist. Photo by Eric Tadsen.

Each of the picture frames arrived carefully packed in individual boxes, which were shipped together in a large, padded wooden crate. We unpacked and cleaned each piece of glass, using Q-Tips, glass cleaner, and canned air to dust the crevices between each glass tentacle.

A large table is set up in the galleries so each piece can be cleaned and prepared to hang on the wall.
A large table is set up in the galleries so each piece can be cleaned and prepared to hang on the wall.

Parts of Two Seas were so detailed that we had to use Q-Tips to make sure all of the surfaces were sparkly and clean. Leib uses tweezers to set each piece of glass individually into resin, and in doing so creates the effect of the individually drifting tentacles of anemones.
Parts of Two Seas were so detailed that we had to use Q-Tips to make sure all of the surfaces were sparkly and clean. Leib uses tweezers to set each piece of glass individually into resin, and in doing so creates the effect of the individually drifting tentacles of anemones.

Often, artists will provide a template along with the artwork, so that we can hang a piece on the wall to their specifications. This is especially important for a piece like Two Seas, where the frames have to hang in a grid, but close enough together so that some of the glass tentacles from adjacent frames have the appearance of overlapping with each other.

MOG art handler Elizabeth Mauro marks the template for on the wall. By hanging the template on the wall using a level, she is able to push a nail through the paper template, leaving a mark on the wall where each mount needs to be attached.
MOG art handler Elizabeth Mauro marks the template for on the wall. By hanging the template on the wall using a level, she is able to push a nail through the paper template, leaving a mark on the wall where each mount needs to be attached.

Each of the framed glass pieces is attached to the wall using a french cleat. A french cleat is made from two pieces of wood, cut at a corresponding angle. One half of the cleat is attached to the wall, and the other to the top of the piece of artwork (see diagram below). The wood is cut at a steep angle, which act like two puzzle pieces, locking together to secure the artwork to the wall.

The diagonal cut in a French cleat creates two puzzle pieces which lock together to secure the artwork on the wall.
The diagonal cut in a french cleat creates two puzzle pieces which lock together to secure the artwork on the wall.

Elizabeth attaches the French cleat for piece #3 to the wall, and double-checks that it is level. The small pieces of blue tape are points marked from the template where the other French cleats will be attached.
Elizabeth attaches the french cleat for piece #3 to the wall, and double-checks that it is level. The small pieces of blue tape are points marked from the template where the other French cleats will be attached.

After all of the french cleats are attached to the wall, we can hang each of the frames. Here, Elizabeth is wearing gloves to keep the glass clean.
After all of the french cleats are attached to the wall, we can hang each of the frames. Here, Elizabeth is wearing gloves to keep the glass clean.

Halfway finished! Two Seas is made of 13 framed glass compositions, which are each hung individually to the wall. Each frame is assigned a unique number, so we know which frame goes where, as well as which french cleat to use.
Halfway finished! Two Seas is made of 13 framed glass compositions, which are each hung individually to the wall. Each frame is assigned a unique number, so we know which frame goes where, as well as which french cleat to use.

Now complete, Two Seas is featured on the title wall of Into the Deep.
Now complete, Two Seas is featured on the title wall of Into the Deep.

These two pieces are just the tip of the iceberg (or should I say reef). I hope you can come down to Museum of Glass and dive on into the rest of the exhibition. Into the Deep is open through September 2017. Check out our calendar at http://museumofglass.org/event-calendar to learn more about events and activities related to the exhibition.

Katie Buckingham is the Assistant Curator at Museum of Glass. She is an alumnus of Whitman College (BA) and University of Washington (MA). In her life outside of the Museum she is outside as much as possible, wearing skis as often as she does hiking boots.   

Take Home the Perfect Into the Deep Souvenir

This weekend, Into the Deep opens at Museum of Glass. Celebrate the Museum’s new exhibition with a marine-themed token to remind you of your visit!

img_1826-sml

For those who want to learn more about marine life, pick up a copy of Ocean: A Photicular Book for $25.95. Readers of all ages will enjoy the book’s Photicular technology, which transforms each photo into a moving 3-D image.

Our creative visitors should check out our selection of coloring and origami books, including Mosaic Art, featuring sea creatures, for $14.95. Suggestions: pair this with a set of Chihuly Workshop coloring pencils! You’ll even find a piece by Dale Chihuly in Into the Deep.

000_1_4
Dale Chihuly (American, born 1941). Persian Sea Forms, 1988. Blown glass. 67 x 120 inches (170.2 x 304.8 cm). Collection of Museum of Glass, Tacoma, Washington, gift of George F. Russell, Jr. Photo by Terry Rishel.

And of course there is plenty of glass available for purchase in the Museum of Glass Store. Add a little aquatic décor to your home with the Store’s variety of Global Village Glass Studio creatures. Choose from mini fish and hermit crabs for $10 or the larger dolphins for $30.

Become a Museum of Glass member and save 10% every time you shop at the Museum Store. You’ll also enjoy extra seasonal discounts throughout the year!