Amber Cowan is a sculptress who works exclusively with recycled vintage glass, and her art is just phenomenal for its intricate beauty and imaginative qualities, combined with an irresistible nostalgic pull. The above tableau is entitled Dance of The Pacific Coast Highway at Sunset (2019) — was part of an exhibit of her work at NYC’s Heller Gallery, which just closed this past weekend.
Amber’s work asks universal questions about rebirth, knowledge, desire and the transformative powers of labor and imagination. Her fantastical grotto-like assemblages are made of re-worked pressed glassware, once produced by some of the best known, but now-defunct, American glass factories. In her most recent, narrative wall sculptures, she creates intricate and exuberant settings for character-objects, which she has collected over years. Unabashedly showing her emotional investment in these objects, the artist pays spontaneous and spectacular homage to the history of US glass manufacturing.
She is currently working with a process which involves flameworking, blowing, and hot-sculpting recycled, up-cycled, and second-life glass that is usually American pressed glass from the 1940’s to the 1980’s. The glass used is generally sought through thrift stores, flea markets and post-production factory runs, the places where it is has been abandoned to the dust bins of American design.
I first noticed the Rose Crystal Tower, a new public art installation from globally famous glass artist Dale Chihuly, as I rode past it while I was on the 14th Street bus. The eye-catching pink sculpture was unveiled on October 6th, 2017 and will stay up for one full year, as part of the NYC Parks’ program Art in the Parks (which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year). Art in the Parks is responsible for many notable works of art in public green spaces around the city, including the OY/YO installation in Brooklyn Bridge Park.
While it maintains a semi-translucent quality, the Rose Crystal Tower is not actually made of glass, but rather is composed of Polyvitro crystals and steel. According to an announcement from the Parks Department, Polyvitro is “the artist’s term for a plastic material which he casts into individual chunks which resemble glass, but are lighter and more resilient.” There is a similar sculpture at the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum in Seattle, and you can see a bit of that piece in this photo, which I took when I was there several years ago.
I have walked by the Rose Crystal Tower a few times and have taken photos of it from many different angles and in different lighting. It is always gorgeous.
Check out the difference in the way the individual crystal groupings look in the daytime, as compared with how it looks at night, in the shots above and below.
Detail of the Sculpture at Night
Here are more nighttime shots, where you can really apreciate the interior illumination.
Chihuly’s Rose Crystal Tower is located on the east side of Union Square Park, on the traffic triangle at 15th Street and Park Avenue South. The work will be on display through October 2018, so you have lots of time to see it.
Here’s the Tower on a beautiful spring day (April 29th, 2018) with the cherry blossoms in the background!
Larry Bell has exploited the transparency and reflectivity of glass to great effect since the beginning of his career, when he inserted a square piece of glass into a painting and titled it Ghost Box (1962). Pacific Red II (2017)
Over the years, Bell has developed coating and laminating techniques in order to tint his sculptures or imbue them with metallic or smoky finishes.
Here on the Whitney Museum 5th floor outdoor terrace, Bell has installed Pacific Red II (2017), a work consisting of six laminated glass cubes, each measuring six-by-eight feet, and enclosing another six-by-four foot glass box.
The multiple surface interplay and respond to their urban surroundings, when glass towers abound.
Read more about the painstakingly brutal installation process of Pacific Red II, and see a video, at Find Your Seen Dot Com.
OMG! How cool are these stained glass drums? Answer: So effing cool! While they are not playable, they sure do light up the room — quite literally! Stained glass artist Paul Heller created this gorgeous lighting fixture by emulating a four piece kit made up of a kick drum with two mounted rack toms and a floor tom, which appears to be a stand-alone unit. Even the cymbal is glass! Sweet!
Paul’s talent is far-reaching. In addition to making glass musical instruments to be used as signage in restaurants, he has also created custom glass guitars for county music artists like Miranda Lambert and Sara Evans. See more of Paul Heller’s beautiful glass art at Stained Glass Sculpture Art Dot Com!
Photographed at the ICFF Show at Javits Center in NYC.
Sometimes, you can see something so beautiful that it invades your imagination forever. I have been a fan of Glass Artist Dale Chihuly for years, but have never seen a comprehensive exhibit of his large scale works in person until I had the opportunity to visit Chihuly Garden and Glass during my recent stay in Seattle. While it is inarguably a beautiful city with innumerable natural attractions and tourist destinations, if you can visit only one notable spot on a trip to Seattle, go to Chihuly Garden and Glass. This place will completely and totally blow your mind and it is absolutely unlike any attraction you can see anywhere else.
I have been to museums and botanical gardens of all kinds all over the country, but have never before seen works of art and nature as consistently gorgeous as I did at Chihuly. Made up of eight exhibit galleries, a theater, a glass atrium and an outdoor garden, the “Oh Wow” factor of Dale Chihuly’s magnificent glass works is just insane, but I am going to let some of the photos I took during my visit do most of the talking.
Click on Any Image to Enlarge for Detail
After passing through an introductory hallway where you can read brief, informative paragraphs on the history of Dale Chihuly’s career, you will come to the Glass Forest, the only Gallery in the museum featuring glass pieces where artificial light (in this case, neon tubing) is incorporated into the glass. The Glass Forest installation is so beautiful, it took my breath away. I could not even imagine how much more amazing it would get.
Each stage of Chihuly’s work represents a series, and in the Northwest Room you can see the glass baskets he created based on traditional woven baskets made by Native Americans. The Northwest Room also contains a small cross section of Chihuly’s extensive collection of gorgeous Navajo Blankets.
The Focal Point of the Sealife Room is a ceiling-high blue glass sculpture dotted with pale amber blown glass Sea Creatures. This large piece is a good example of the modular nature of Chihuly’s sculptures of this type, in which individual glass limbs or bulbs are hung on a central, grid-like pole. This type of construction allows each installation to be site specific.
Thousands of pieces of blown glass of all shapes and colors reflect their beauty behind the glass panels of the Persian Ceiling gallery.
The Mille Fiore (Thousand Flowers) Gallery is an indoor garden of otherworldly delight. I think I took a thousand photos in this room alone.
IKEBANA AND FLOAT BOATS
The glass pieces in these two boats represent works inspired by fishing floats and also the Japanese art of Flower Arrangement known as Ikebana.
The Chandeliers in this gallery were previously included in the 1996 exhibit, Chihuly Over Venice, where Chandeliers were hung adjacent to or over the canals in Venice, Italy.
These flower-like bowls are lit only from above but they appear to glow from within due to process of layering colored glass on top of a white glass base. Hilariously, Chihuly’s Mother referred to these stunning works as “The Uglies.”
At the end of the indoor galleries there is a small theater where you can sit and watch a series of fascinating short films about Chihuly’s many ambitious projects including those in Las Vegas, Venice, The Citadel in Jerusalem and Finland. Do yourself a favor and watch all of them.
The centerpiece of Chihuly Garden and Glass is the Glasshouse, a 40-foot tall, glass and steel structure covering 4,500 square feet of light-filled space. The Glasshouse – the result of Chihuly’s lifelong appreciation for conservatories – draws design inspiration from two of his favorite buildings: Sainte-Chapelle in Paris and the Crystal Palace in London. The installation in the Glasshouse is an expansive 1,400-piece, 100-foot long sculpture in a color palette of reds, oranges, yellows and amber. Made of many individual elements, it is one of Chihuly’s largest suspended sculptures.
Just when you think you have seen every beautiful thing that could possibly be made of glass; get ready for your head to explode when you see the garden. On a beautiful sunny day (they do happen in Seattle) you will think you are in paradise as brilliantly colored glass flora mingles with complimentary species of living plants and flowers. Insane!
The Worley Gig cannot pile enough praise and hype on Chihuly Garden and Glass as the number one Must See Attraction for residents of and visitors to Seattle alike. We would also like to say a special Thank you to April, the museum’s in-house Head of PR, who was kind enough to not only comp our entry but to also give us a personal tour of the galleries. Chihuly Garden and Glass is fortunate to have such a passionate and knowledgeable employee.
Chihuly Garden and Glass is Located at 305 Harrison St. (right next to the Space Needle and the Seattle Center Monorail Station), Seattle, WA 98109. Open Every Day, Hours are Monday to Thursday 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM and Friday to Sunday 10:00 AM to 11:00 PM. Visit This Link for Admission Prices and Additional Information on Special Events.