By Donna Tennant
Seattle is a city that loves its glass. In fact, it now rivals Venice as the international studio glass capital of the world, thanks in large part to the area’s Pilchuck Glass School (see page 34) and Pratt Fine Arts Center. The city has a large community of artists working individually and in dozens of glass studios throughout the region.
Glass studios are run in various ways. Usually the owner creates his own work with the help of assistants. James Nowak, for example (see listing under Pioneer Square, below), usually works with two people, but uses three for larger pieces. It’s not so much an apprenticeship, he explains, as teamwork making glass is physically demanding and not something one person can do alone. Assistants also get studio time to do their own work. Some artists rent out their facilities, and a few, such as Benjamin Moore (206.329.8607), can be hired to execute a piece for a designer. Moore’s studio is open by appointment only, but included below are half a dozen open studios where you can watch glassblowers at work.
Glass, the most beautiful and fragile of media, is surprisingly versatile it can be blown, melted, cast or pulled to create vessels, sculptural forms, stained glass, jewelry… anything an artist can imagine. In Seattle, glass is found at every turn in hotels, restaurants, malls, galleries, shops and studios. Use the following list as a starting point for your glass buying art adventure.
Seattle’s area code is 206 unless otherwise noted.
Emerald Gallery at the Sheraton (1400 Sixth Ave., 800.626.4648): Works by Italian, French, Czech and Polish glass artists, including Pino Signoretto, Robert Pierini, A. Loumani and Loredano Rosin, along with artists from the Seattle area.
Gallery Mack (2003 Western Ave., 448.1616): New works by glass artists Michael Bokrosh, Richard LaLonde, Marialyn Salts, Henner Schroder and R&O glass.
Glass Eye Gallery (1902 Post Alley, 441.3221): Bowls, vases, perfume bottles, paperweights and ornaments created by the Glass Eye Studio, one of the oldest in town. Among its early workers were Sonja Blomdahl, Dante Marioni, Ben Moore, Richard Royal and Charles Parriott.
Kimzey Miller Gallery (1225 Second Ave., 682.2339): Large blown-glass vessels with peacock-like designs by Stephen Rolfe Powell, along with cast and blown glass by Leon Applebaum and canework by Bryan Rubino.
Mark’s Art, Inc. (429 Eastlake Ave. E., 622.5205): Monumental glass aquariums filled with glass fish, plants and other objects by Mark Eckstrand, who has been blowing and fusing glass for 20 years.
Phoenix Rising Gallery (2030 Western Ave., 728.2332): Contemporary American glass by some 400 artists, including Carole Perry, who weaves glass strands into baskets; Joan Irving, known for her furniture and large public work; and Debra May, who hand etches intricate patterns into handblown vases. Glass for the Mind and Soul, the 4th annual national glass competition with work by 54 artists, opens July 12, 1-5 p.m., and runs through September 1.
R&O Glass (818 John St., 343.5995): Opened in 1995 by Phil O’Reilly, R&O is known for its glass floral arrangements in beautiful vases. Lead glassblowers are James Mongrain, head glassblower for Chihuly, and Rick McNett, who studied glass flower creation in Venice for six years. View the hot shop from 8-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m. daily.
Seattle Glassblowing Studio and Gallery (2227 Fifth Ave., 448.2181): The public is welcome to watch glassblowers at work in this working studio with a showroom in front. Six-week glassblowing classes are also offered.
William Traver Gallery (110 Union St., 2nd Floor, 587.6501): Celebrating its 20th anniversary, this international venue features some of the world’s greatest glass artists, including Blomdahl, Dan Dailey, Marioni, Danny Perkins, Italo Scanga, Bertil Vallien and Venetian master-blower Lino Tagliapietra. This month, view cast glass by Kelly McLain (see page 10), who has taught at the Pilchuck School for 15 years. The 20th Annual International Pilchuck Exhibition takes place in December.
Vetri International Glass (110 Union St., 1st Floor, 667.9608): When William Traver ran out of room for new glass artists in his gallery, he opened Vetri to present innovative work at accessible prices. This includes limited-edition works by major glass artists, pieces from European glass houses and artwork made in area studios exclusively for Vetri. Artists include Kosta Boda, Dimitri Michaelides, Janusz Pozniak and Preston Singletary. Books and periodicals on glass are also sold.
Seattle’s Pioneer Square
Emerald City Fine Art (317 First Ave. S., 623.1550): Works in glass by Susan Anne Glass, Scott Curry, Rick Strini, Richard Pitkethly, Salusa, Jackie Mendelson and Crystal Catch.
Foster/White Gallery (3111/2 Occidental Ave. S., 622.2833): Opened in 1969, Foster/White represents Pilchuck artists Chihuly and William Morris, along with John De Wit, Frederick Heidel, Joey Kirkpatrick, Judith La Scola, Flora Mace, James Minson, Gerry Newcomb, Royal, David Schwarz and Louis Sclafani. Glass is always on display in the Chihuly and Pilchuck rooms. The gallery opened an additional exhibition space in City Centre (see U.S. Bank Centre, page 32) in May.
Glasshouse Gallery (311 Occidental Ave. S., 682.9939): Founded in 1972, this gallery/studio is among the oldest in the Northwest. Most of the work is by Eric Bracken and his four assistants, but each month a “window artist” is featured—this month it’s Bennet Jordan. Open daily, with glass-blowing demonstrations from
10 a.m.-2 p.m. Grover/Thurston Gallery (309 Occidental Ave. S., 223.0816):
Glass artists Cappy Thompson and Judy Hill are represented here.
Meyerson & Nowinski Art Associates (123 S. Jackson St., 223.1700): This 5,000-square-foot gallery that opened a year ago showcases Ginny Ruffner’s narrative, often autobiographical glass sculpture. She has been dubbed the “Queen of Lampworking” for reviving an ancient technique and pushing it to new limits. Glass and metal sculpture by Amanda Fin are on display this month. They also handle Nancy Mee’s work.
Nowak Glass Studio (204 First Ave. S., 622.7874): James Nowak’s studio is located in Underground Seattle, the old part of the city that has been partially excavated. He specializes in colorful layered glass with underwater design elements. Call for directions.
Edge of Glass (513 N. 36th St., 547.6551): This glass gallery and working studio of John K. Walsh handles his blown glass along with a dozen artists from the region and beyond, including Frank Englesby, Jeanne Ferraro and Paula Sokes. See glassblowing here 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday andon most weekdays, but call first.
Elliot Brown Gallery (619 N. 35th St. #101, 547.9740): New work by Toots Zynsky, known for her glass thread pieces, is on view June 7-July 26. A “must” for glass collectors, the gallery represents Hank Murta Adams, Daniel Clayman, Alessandro Diaz de Santillana, Richard Marquis, Flo Perkins, Pike Powers, Ann Robinson, Laura de Santillana, Frantisek Vizner, Jack Wax and the Czech husband-and- wife team Stanislav Libensky and Jaroslava Brychtová, who have been working in glass for more than 40 years.
Kirkland Anderson-Glover Gallery (303 Kirkland Ave., 739.0303): View work by Denita Benyshek, who paints, etches and layers panels of glass with narrative subject matter.
Foster/White Gallery (126 Central Way, 822.2305): Opened in 1992, this is a second location (see Pioneer Square, page 30).
Elements (10500 NE Eighth St., 454.8242) and Northwest Discovery (142 Bellevue Sq., 454.1676) collaborate in presenting Fire and Ice, an annual glass invitational of 20 artists including Stuart Abelman, Nancy Becker, Barry Entner, Toland Sand and Josh Simpson, through June 20.
Langley on Whidbey Island
South Whidbey Island, located across the sound from the Pilchuck Glass School, is home base for several glass galleries and a dozen glass studios.
The Glass Knight (214 First St., 360.221.6283): Gwenn Knight is known for her fragile blown glass shells; other glass artists include Dan Bergsma, Susan Glass, John Cook and Carmen Daquilla.
Hellebore Glass Studio (308 First St., 360.221.2067): This is the studio and gallery of glassblower George Springer. Watch Springer at work in his studio overlooking Saratoga Passage, preferably by appointment.
Museo Piccolo Gallery (215 First St., 360.221.7737): Works by nationally known and emerging artists including Robert Adamson (the gallery’s owner), Robert Hodges and Peggy Juve, Eric Leiberman, Janis Miltenberger, Ro Purser and Mark Weiner.
La Connor/Port Townsend Earthenworks Gallery (713 First St., La Conner, 360.466.4422, and 702 Water St., Port Townsend, 360.385.0328): Celebrating their 20th anniversary this year, these two galleries were included among the Top 10 Retailers of American Craft by Niche magazine. They handle work by 56 American glass artists—everything from traditional to utilitarian to sculptural pieces. You’ll find Cohn-Stone Studio’s pieces, John Leighton’s organic sculpture and Ross Neder’s dramatic glass floor lamps.
Glass on Public View
The U.S. Bank Centre (1420 Fifth Ave., 223.8999) and the Sheraton Seattle Hotel and Towers (1400 Sixth Ave., 621.9000) have impressive collections on public view. Margery Aronson, an independent curator formerly with the Seattle Art Museum and Museum of Modern Art, assembled the Sheraton collection in 1982-83 and the U.S. Bank Centre collection in 1989.
The latter, which includes the three-story City Centre retail complex, is home to a large collection of glass art permanently displayed in custom-designed mahogany cases throughout the mall. In 1989 more than 30 artists affiliated with the Pilchuck School, including Chihuly, Tagliapietra, Vallien, Libensky and Brychtová, were commissioned to create work for the center. Women represented include Blomdahl, Zynsky, Kirkpatrick, Mace, Catherine Thompson and Karla Trinkley. Be sure to visit Palomino Restaurant on the third floor, which commissioned glass artists to design light fixtures and other design elements.
Upon entering the registration area of the Sheraton Hotel, you’ll see Flower Form 2, an impressive blown-glass sculpture by Chihuly. Nearby a changing display of glass art from Foster/White Gallery is on view. Fullers, a restaurant located in the hotel, welcomes visitors to view the room-length display cases of work by Pilchuck artists including Chihuly, Blomdahl, Dailey, Michael Glancy, Libensky and Brychtová, Moore, Morris, Parriott, Perkins and more, all beautifully lit against a dark ground.
Aronson also curates an annual installation of glass art by Pilchuck artists at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Located on the mezzanine level are 50 works created at the school in the previous year, on display through January 9, 1998.
Pratt Fine Art Center
Pratt was founded by a private nonprofit organization to make first rate facilities available to glass artists of all backgrounds. It has programs that focus on materials, technical support and collaboration. Scholarships, residencies and work study programs help support the school, which is located at 1902 S. Main, 206.328.2200.
Featured in June 1997