Thursday, April 28, 2016

Lucency in Art and Thought

Correspondent: Beverly Choltco-Devlin

Throughout my life glass has held a strong fascination for me.  I have never been able to rationally understand how something that has substance and mass can be clear or translucent. I have read physics and optics explanations that make no sense to me.  Thus the transparency of glass is, ironically, shrouded in mystery for me.

Serendipitously, I have lived and worked most of my adult life in places renowned for art glass; both in creation and display.  I worked with stained glass as a hobbyist for a while when living in San Francisco.  I let go of that avocation for a number of reasons: the toxicity of the materials, my discomfort at a perceived lack of personal creativity while patiently and sometimes painfully cutting pieces of glass to match someone else’s vision, and a lack of space.  I did not have the opportunity to learn other glass arts and moved in a more committed way toward painting.  After moving to upstate NY,  I fed my love of glass and frequented the Corning Museum of Glass often, always planning to take a course in glass blowing.  The work of Dale Chihuly and the many Czech and Italian glass artists enthralled me.  A friend of mine there is a spectacular glass artist in her own right. 

Somehow, magically, I ended up in the Pacific Northwest and working in Tacoma, birthplace of Chihuly and home to the Museum of Glass. 

This past Wednesday, our Urban Sketchers Tacoma outing took place at the Hotel Murano, a hotel in practice, but a veritable glass museum in its own right. The work that graces this hotel is stunning. The iconic Chihuly is represented, certainly and well.  I felt this time that the connections that abound in my art and life fused here like the beautiful pendants found in their gift shop. 


My first ever outing with Urban Sketchers Tacoma took place at the Hotel Murano over a year ago.  Everyone had made me feel so welcome. I was new to the area and very tentative.  It was a pleasure this past week to revisit the place in which I had made new friends, re-energized my artistic endeavors, and finally felt a sense of belonging after moving away from the comfort of 30+ years in one location. Not least, certainly, I reveled in the experience of viewing the beautiful work here. 

With almost too much to observe, I finally settled on a different perspective from our first outing there, and moved to the 3rd floor Mezzanine. Parking myself on one of the lush leather sofas, I sketched the view into the spectacular atrium below. Behind me were the large expressive sketches of bowls in colored pencil by Chihuly. Below me was the incredible anemone chandelier, by Italian artist, Massimo Micheluzzi (often mis-attributed to Chihuly). 

Glass and sketching.  Crisp razor edges and flowing lines and translucency.  The sun streaming in to create luscious colors in the many pieces. During this outing, I made the connection  between sketching and painting and art glass. The elusiveness and magical nature of transparency and translucency of watercolor and glass art are not that far removed. 


Another startling revelation came to me during that visit.  Chihuly and many world renowned glass artists are of Czech or Slovak ancestry.  Micheluzzi and others are of Italian heritage.  The Hotel Murano is also named after the famed island in Italy noted for its glass art. My father was of Czech and Slovak ancestry and my mother was Italian. Could this fascination with the lucent expressions of art through glass and line and watercolor be embedded in my genetic and ancestral heritage?  I like to think so and that the mystery of these discoveries will be carried on. 

As the famed artist Michelangelo remarked when he was 87: “ancora imparo” – “I am still learning.”

Being a part of Tacoma Urban Sketchers has enriched me immensely.  I have learned much about drawing and sketching and I have enjoyed the rich and supportive camaraderie of my fellow sketchers. As you can see, my sketches are not masterful, but provide a vehicle for continuing to learn.

It is no exaggeration that working with my fellow sketchers has also brought me a profound understanding of myself. I know it will for you also and I encourage you to join us. 

Finally, check out the stunning world-class collection of fine art glass by visiting the hotel when in Tacoma or virtually through their online gallery by clicking here


1 comment:

  1. This is so thoughtful and thought-provoking, Bev. Thank you!

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