Sunday, March 14, 2010

Preston Singletary glass

Today Barbara and I went to see the Preston Singletary show at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma.  We planned to also go to an afternoon dance performance (our grandson is a professional dancer) but, alas, I had the day wrong and the performance was yesterday.  I'm still pretty sandpapered at myself for that.  But back to the Singletary show....
Mr. Singletary is a young, compared to me at least, Tlingit artist who uses traditional motifs and designs but realizes his pieces in blown or cast glass which he "sand carves" and sometimes paints or adheres gold leaf.  He has several works in the permanent collection of the Seattle Art Museum -- where we first saw his work a decade or so ago -- and in an impressive list of other institutions and prestigious collections.  If I had a lot of money, I'd own some of them, too.  His show at the Museum of Glass is a "mid career" show and it is a large show, indeed, with some of his earliest works as well as pieces that he completed while doing a residency at the museum's hot shop late last year.
Two examples -- "Raven Steals the Sun" (there are two in the show, I'm enamored of the smaller, earlier one) is about half a meter high, the stylized face of the raven, vertical, gleaming jet black, with the gleaming orb of the stolen sun triumphantly clenched in the open beak.  It is adorned with the raven design of traditional Tlingit art.  "Wolf Hat" is blown glass in the shape of the basketry hats made by many Northwest tribes.  It is a bit bigger than life-size, perhaps 3/4 of a meter across the brim, and mounted upside-down.  Translucent, pale-blue glass, it is decorated with traditional wolf figures sand-carved (like sand-blasting but much more delicate) to make the surface of the glass translucent.  It is lighted from directly above so the piece casts a wonderful shadow on the plinth upon which it is mounted.  However, the wolf image in the curved shape of the hat projects on to the flat surface of the plinth as a frog.  It literally gave me cold chills to stand and look at it.
Now please understand that glass is not my most favorite medium.  I'm not a Dale Chihuly fan (lighting may strike any second now).  I'll make an exception for Singletary's work.  Apart from the fact that I really like it, I am a sucker for an artist who does what he/she does VERY WELL!  (back to the passionate virtuosity, I suppose).
Singletary is going to be in the museum's hot shop as a visiting artist for a few days in April.  Sounds like another trip is in order.