Artist Called by God

Paul Crimi explains his art

Sunday was the reception and artist talk for Paul Crimi whose art is on display through May 15 at North River Gallery.  Mr. Crimi does not fit the stereotypical artist persona. With his thick Boston accent, he describes growing up in the projects of East Boston. Incidents such as punching out his principal accidentally and being expelled, stealing ice cream from the ice cream truck, and selling newspapers at the Sumner Tunnel showed us the tough side of Paul. His parents taught life lessons such as, 'if you mess up, you have to fix it" and "you have to defend yourself from the neighborhood bully", among others.

At mid-life God got a hold of Paul when his son was killed in an electrocution accident. His son came back to life when Paul asked God to let his son live. He said "Dad! I saw God and the angels!"  Crimi had been mocking God the day before, and became a God believer in that instant. He resisted being used by the Almighty for a year telling God, "I'm not the one You should use!" He finally accepted Christ into his life and His forgiveness, and uses his art to share his faith. He is quite colorful to listen to in person, so if you get a chance, visit him at his studio in Rockland. If you have not visited the gallery yet, please come and see this work; it's worth the visit. The gallery is located within North River Community Church, at the end of Union Street in Marshfield. M-F 9-4 and Sundays 7am-12:30pm.

There Are No Shortcuts

Fellow illustrator and friend Marc Scheff created this great infographic titled "There Are No Shortcuts." It beautifully illustrates that in order to make great art, you need to do lots and lots of art making. Not just the big beautiful crazy works you dream of, but also lots of studies, practice, doodles, and sketches, and as much of it from life as possible. Every good artist I know continues to do these sorts of things long past the point of being called professional. In fact most artists would agree, you never stop learning, and so there is no reason to ever stop doing these sorts of things.

Marc has called this infographic "part 1", so check out his blog for the sure to follow up "part 2" and beyond :)  Marc's original post with this graphic
Please check out my upcoming trip to Japan in October 2012.

Ceramics of Japan Tour

The Japan ceramics tour from October 5 – 15, 2012 is designed for enthusiasts, potters and anyone interested in the art of Japan. On this journey we’ll discover the beauty of both the lush countryside and the incredible ceramics of Japan. Joining art expert Anne Geismann Alene, your guide, will be guest lecturer Robert Yellin, one of the foremost experts on Japanese Ceramics. With such a talented team you’ll return home with an education in ceramics, from mingei pottery to high-fired, low-fired, glazed and unglazed yakishime.

From our base in Kyoto we’ll visit the great pottery centers of Shigaraki, Bizen and Tambe to explore the unique styles of each and learn about both traditional and contemporary ceramics. Throughout the Japan ceramics tour we will have many opportunities to be guests in potter’s studios, where we will hear about their lives and their art. We will also get to see the work of other craftsman in Kyoto and to enjoy the mastery of these artists. We’ll visit small towns full of artisans still working with traditional materials in both ancient and innovative ways.
Itinerary – Ceramics of Japan

Friday, October 5 Depart for Japan on your individually arranged flight.

Saturday, October 6 Arrive Japan

Arrive Osaka Kansai airport. You will be met and transferred by reserved van shuttle to the Palace Side hotel in Kyoto, our well-located tour hotel and convenient to public transport.

Sunday, October 7 Kyoto

Spend the morning at Daitokuji Zen monastery, for a private experience of the Way of Tea with the abbot of Zuihoin sub-temple and a discussion of how the ceramic history of Japan is so closely tied to the tea ceremony. After a Zen style vegetarian lunch, visit the studio of an American artist who has made her home in Kyoto for the past 30 years. End the day in Eastern Kyoto for a walk along the Philosopher’s Walk to a Robert Yellin’s Yakimono Gallery for our first introduction to the world of Japanese ceramics. Return to the hotel for dinner on your own.
Included meals: Breakfast, lunch

Monday, October 8 Tamba

Travel to the town of Tamba to start the exploration of ceramics with a visit to the studio and kilns of some local ceramic artists. Tamba ware originated in the medieval period, and is typically a style used for storage jars and vases and it is also famous for its sake bottles. Rob will put the artists you are visiting in context so that you will have a deeper appreciation of this type of Yakishime, high-fired unglazed stoneware. After our return to Kyoto we will have a group dinner at a local restaurant.
Included meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Tuesday, October 9 Kyoto

We begin today in Western Kyoto at Tenryuji, one of the oldest gardens in Kyoto, dating from the early 14th century. The garden was designed by Muso Kokushi, a renowned priest, diplomat, meditation teacher and garden designer. You will have a private tour of the Hogo-in villa, which is not open to the public. The villa is an outstanding example of highly refined and inventive sukiya-style carpentry. After lunch, we have an appointment to visit Saiho-ji, the Moss Temple garden. There we’ll hear priests chant the Heart Sutra, try our hand at calligraphy, and explore the mystical stroll garden. Return to the center of Kyoto to visit a current ceramics show. Tonight dinner will be on your own.
Included meals: Breakfast, lunch

Wednesday, October 10 Bizen

Today we head to Okayama prefecture for a visit to the Bizen Pottery Village in Imbe. Rob will lead us on an exploration of the various tunnel kilns and artists still practicing the centuries old art of creating these unique reddish or brown-colored, unglazed works. We will learn about the six major variations of Bizenware and how they are created through the careful placement of the objects in the kiln.
Included meals: Breakfast, lunch

Thursday, October 11 Kyoto

Start the morning in the eastern hills with a visit to Kiyomizu-dera for a scenic view of Kyoto and then a day exploring the rich ceramic history of Kyoto, including the Raku Museum. There will be free time for lunch and to explore the ceramic shops and galleries in the historic cobblestone streets of Ninnenzaka. Finally, visit the Kawai Kanjiro Memorial House, formerly the home and workshop of the famed 20th century designer and ceramic artist, who was part of the Mingei (folk craft) movement. Enjoy a visit with a contemporary mingei artist. Take an early evening walking tour of the Gion geisha district before dinner on your own.
Included meals: Breakfast

Friday, October 12 Kyoto

Start the day at one of Kyoto’s quiet garden for a reflective moment. Follow with an introduction to ikebana and a demonstration of how the work of various ceramic artists are incorporated into the design of beautiful floral arrangements. A Kyoto-style lunch will be served in a private room at Kyoto’s oldest inn and garden, located facing the Takano River. The current proprietor is the 20th generation in his family to run the inn. After lunch, enjoy a performance by a master koto player. We have chosen a number of musical pieces that will provide a broad based introduction to this 1400-year-old art form. The rest of the afternoon will be free for exploring Kyoto on your own or using Esprit’s complimentary shopping map.
Included meals: Breakfast, lunch

Saturday, October 13 Shigaraki

On today’s out-of-town excursion by private bus to Shiga prefecture, we will visit the Miho Museum, designed by IM Pei and located in a spectacular mountain setting. We’ll enjoy a Japanese bento lunch en route and will visit the studios of a selection of ceramic artists and kiln tours with commentary provided by Rob Yellin. Return to Kyoto by early evening.
Included meals: Breakfast, lunch

Sunday, October 14 Kyoto

Today is devoted to a series of visits carefully selected by Rob Yellin to highlight contemporary ceramic artists in the Kyoto area. End the day with a farewell dinner.
Included meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Monday, October 15, Depart Japan on your individually arranged flights

Transfer by reserved van shuttle, per individual flight times, for your return flight from Osaka Kansai Airport OR you may elect to join our two-night extension to the Benesse Art Site on Naoshima Island.
Included meals: Breakfast

Optional Extension:

Monday, October 15 Teshima and Naoshima Islands

Travel early this morning with your guide, art expert Anne Alene, to the fabulous Benesse Art site on Naoshima Island. Transfer via train and private ferry to Teshima to visit Christian Boltanski’s Heartbeat Archive and the Teshima Museum. Travel on via public ferry to Naoshima Island and a stay a the Park Hotel. After touring you can watch the sunset over the Inland Sea. For dinner this evening, enjoy the specialty of the house: a contemporary interpretation of traditional kaiseki (multi-course, exquisitely presented meal) served on an array of artistic functional ware from kilns all over Japan.
Hotel: Benesse Park Hotel
Included meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Tuesday, October 16 Naoshima Island

Today we will visit the Art House installations, the Chichu Museum, the Lee Ufan Museum and various art installations across Naoshima Island. Dinner tonight will be the fine cuisine at the Terrace restaurant, located in your hotel.
Hotel: Benesse Park Hotel
Included meals: Breakfast, dinner

Wednesday, October 17 Depart to US

Depart this morning via ferry and train directly to Osaka Kansai airport for late afternoon flights.
Included meals: Breakfast

Registrations will be accepted as of March 21, 2012

Travel Notes – Ceramics of Japan Tour

Price: $5195

Tour Price Includes:

Ten nights accommodations in Kyoto Palace Side hotel, sharing a room
Daily breakfast and additional meals as indicated
Round-trip airport transfers by reserved, shared van shuttle
All internal trains and buses for the tour, including riding on Japan’s famous Shinkansen “Bullet train”
Informative commentary by an Esprit tour leader who is fluent in Japanese, using our unique radio headset system
Special guest lectures by Japanese ceramics expert Robert Yellin
Admissions and local transportation

Single supplement information is available upon request.
Singles are limited.
Twin beds are the norm in Japan for a double room.
Group size is limited to 16.

Optional Extension to Benesse Art Site: $1500

Minimum group size of 8, there may be a small group surcharge if the Extension group is smaller than 8.

Extension Price includes:

Two nights accommodations in Benesse Park hotel, sharing a room
Daily breakfast, one lunch and two nights dinners (drinks are extra)
All internal trains, ferries and buses for the tour, including riding on Japan’s famous Shinkansen “Bullet train”
Informative commentary by an Esprit tour leader who is fluent in Japanese, using our unique radio headset system
Admissions and local transportation

Price may be adjusted at the time of final payment for currency fluctuation.

For registration information and Terms and Conditions, call 800-377-7481, or email


Actual visits and events will be finalized approximately 30 days prior to departure to allow for the inclusion of special exhibitions, visits and events, and are dependent on the schedules of our Japanese colleagues. A final itinerary will be sent to you about two weeks prior to tour departure. The itinerary is subject to change at any time.
My apologies as my promised "new year" article is becoming a "mid-year" I'm going to be in Japan until June 1. I will return from my trip with a good article about my trip to the "Holy Grail" to which I refer!

The New Salvador Dali Museum

I'm writing this near Tampa Bay on the west coast of Florida while visiting friends. I've never been here before, so sightseeing has been the priority. One site was the Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg.

The collection is reputed to be the best outside Spain, assembled by a wealthy Dalí fan over a period of decades starting in the early 1940s; click on the link for details. What's new is the building, which opened 11:11 a.m. on 11 January 2011 -- for any numerologists out there, that translates to 11-11-1-11-11.

The collection includes a few of Dalí's huge later works. But what interested me was how many paintings there were from his teenage years and elsewhere in his pre-Surrealist days. I consider the museum worth a visit if you're a Dalí fan or even just somewhat interested in him and his work. Be aware that the admission price is a little on the high side, 19 dollars.

Photography was not permitted on the gallery floor, so what you see below is what I could take.


Museum exterior with Dalí signature

Other views of the exterior

Dalíesque display between the gift shop, café and ticket desk

Chauffeur wearing diver's helmet
Dalí once tried to give a talk dressed in a diving suit and nearly suffocated.

"Mermaid" in back seat
The passenger compartment is filled with a plastic "shower stall" of sorts where from time to time water sprays down on the mermaid mannequin. Thanks to the "shower stall" plastic and the car windows, there are layers of reflection of posters on the opposite wall mostly obscuring the mannequin. Quelle Surrealisme!!

What They Say and What We See

I don't get many unsolicited emails. Where I can, I usually unsubscribe. A few sources I let linger on for a while due to cussedness or idle curiosity on my part. I recently received one from somebody named Aron Packer who apparently operates an art gallery in Chicago; he was touting an upcoming show. I was about to zap it when the thought struck me that I was being handed a nice bit of blog material -- and if there's one thing a blogger needs, it's new material to blog about. The big, fat juicy blog fodder? -- some notes about artists in that upcoming show.

One of that things that induces a gag-reaction from me is arty talk, either verbal or written. The worst is art-gush, and even long descriptions and analyses of paintings can something elevate my reaction from glazed eyes to incipient gag. I'm of the school of thought shared by Harley Earl, the legendary creator of styling at General Motors, who shut styling staff members up by announcing that if a design or design feature required explanation, it couldn't be of any use in a production car; its merit had be be visually obvious.

This being an art and design blog, I have to write about the images I display. But I try to keep things short, dwelling mostly on technical matters and minimizing or ignoring social or psychological factors that might (or might not) have driven the artist to do what he did.

And I try to avoid the gushy, pretentious verbiage of the kind that Packer included in his email. Though I understand that he was engaging in marketing to a target audience of art critics and other writers on art who probably do not share the biases I just mentioned.

Here is what was written about Paul Lamantia:

"Of all the strategies, notions, and approaches to modern art, for Lamantia there was never a choice, but a desire to follow a certain direction, that came in the form of an obsession. That obsession was with his dreams and visions, and the need to record and communicate his feelings about them. It is difficult because the work is always changing. It is in a constant state of flux where narrative and psychological possibilities are set in motion and clairvoyant and hallucinatory occurrences can become painted realities. There is no fixed approach to these aesthetic problems Lamantia has created for himself. The works are structured in a subjective state within certain compulsive confines meant to draw the viewer into the dream. It is not always possible to make the illusion accessible to the viewer. The intention is not to illustrate, but to translate them into something real in the form of meaningful images. There is no preconceived planning of visual invention or execution of materials. This method creates artistic challenges and needs that may only be satisfied by exploring new ways to express one's vision and to express one's aesthetic problems. To base the work on conceptual or formal values would be a misinterpretation. The paintings and drawings are meant to be introspective events and should be experienced on an emotional level."

Below is an example of Lamantia's work I found on the Web.

Other examples look fairly similar, so I suspect that the business about dreams, visions, obsessions and much of the rest is simply marketing blather from the point of view of the artist (who would likely strongly deny it was marketing blather). My take is that the guy simply likes to paint that sort of semi-surrealist stuff and has evolved a style that sells well enough to for him to usefully supplement any retirement income following a 25-year stint as a public schools art teacher.

Next, Packer writes about Brett Eberhardt:

"The imagery in Eberhardt’s paintings invite the type of reflection that occurs when one slowly observes one’s surroundings and realizes the human activity, both intentional and unintentional, that led to the current physical state of an interior space and the objects within it. It can be a beautiful thing, this combination of intentional and unintentional actions accumulated over time. The result of use and wear can be unpredictable, even mysterious, making what was once a plain white wall an abundantly rich surface and subject. This change that occurs over time and activity have a lot in common with the sequence of events that take place when building a painting. His painting process starts as a very controlled deliberate act, but over time becomes an embrace of all that painting has to offer, including those unexpected occurrences that can be so crucial to the life of a painting. Although he is after a convincing rendering of the subject, Eberhardt is not interested in creating a slick artificial surface or a hyper realistic image. The construction of the image with paint comes at the forefront and serves as a compelling record of his activity and process, a combination of intention, accident, deconstruction and reconstruction. It is important that these images are constructed with this material, not simply to elevate the subject, but for the discovery and possibilities of the medium used to construct the image."

Above is an example of Eberhardt's work. The text strikes me as pretty much an elaborate and dramatized discussion of the process most painters go through when executing a painting -- hardly a struggle of cosmic dimensions in most cases. After all, Eberhardt seems to be basically painting still lifes of one kind or another. All the verbal drama seems to be just more marketing.

Please note that I'm all in favor of marketing art and artists. I also happen to think that something less extravagant than what I quoted above ought to work just about as well as Packer's verbal pyrotechnics.

Nearly Knocked Out

Butterfly Goodeid by Kirsten Borror

2012 Acrylic 5x5

This beautiful river fish of Mexico is nearly extinct in the wild. It inhabits only one stream.

Waves are hitting my life; huge, dreadful waves that are terrifying. But oddly, I am more and more secure all the time. I am assured by the One who loves me that He is bigger by far than my circumstances.

The Lord is King, He is clothed in majesty;

 and armed with strength;

Indeed, the earth is established, firm and secure.

But Your throne was established long ago;

You are from all eternity.

(Rest and think on this)

The seas have lifted up, Lord,

The waves have lifted up their voice;

the oceans have raised their pounding waves.

But the Lord rules supreme in heaven, 

Greater than the roar of the ocean,

more powerful than the waves of the sea.

Psalm 93:1-4

Century 21 Exposition: Civic Symbolism From 50 Years Ago

Fifty years ago this month Seattle's Century 21 Exposition opened for its six-month run. It attracted a lot of attention because it was the first world's fair hosted in the United States since 1940. The Wikipedia entry about the fair is here.

The theme of the fair had to do with science and the progress that might be expected by the turn of the century 38 years in the future. Because it was a small-scale fair, it lacked special pavilions funded by other countries. Most of the international and private corporate displays were in nondescript temporary structures, some of which were torn down once the fair ended.

There were three important specially built structures including the Space Needle. I'll elaborate on the Needle following the Gallery section below.


Contemporary aerial view of fair
The Washington State Coliseum is the large building to the right. The Space Needle, whose top was painted orange in 1962, is near the center and the Science Pavilion is the cluster of white structures to the right of it and just above the Coliseum. Note that Seattle's 1962 skyline isn't very tall, the Space Needle being the highest structure in town.

Washington State Coliseum
A 1962 view of the Coliseum and a plaza where flags of the sates were displayed. It was later converted to a sports arena for basketball and ice hockey.

United States Science Pavilion
This is now the Pacific Science Center, an educational facility.

Space Needle as shown in a promotional rendering

San Antonio Tower of the Americas - 1968
A tower built for the HemisFair exposition.

Toronto CN Tower - 1976
Once the tallest self-supported structure in the world, it remains the highest in North America.

Space Needle and Seattle Skyline - recent
Seattle's Skyline has grown considerably over the last 50 years and the Space Needle is no longer the highest structure. However, it is located far enough from the central business district that it remains distinctive and not buried amongst office buildings and condominiums.

The Space Needle was inspired by a television tower in Stuttgart, Germany. Since 1962 a number of towers resembling that in Stuttgart have appeared, such as those in San Antonio and Toronto. Many of those towers were probably intended as symbols of their location.

I might be wrong, but my impression is that most or even all of those tall towers have come up short (pardon the expression) where being symbolic is concerned. And I think the problem is that those towers were designed by architects and engineers in nice, clean, functional ways that resulted in them seeming pretty similar to one another.

Towers that succeeded in symbolizing their city can be counted on the finger of one hand. Actually, two fingers are all that is needed, because in my opinion only Paris' Eiffel Tower and Seattle's Space Needle unmistakably define their cities in the eyes of the rest of the world.

But why? The answer, I believe, is because their structural shapes are as much decorative as functional, unlike the others that seem to be variations on the theme of a large post with an observation deck placed at or near the top. In the case of the Space Needle, what makes it distinctive is that it is supported by three legs, and that makes it awkward-appearing from many viewing angles. But without that awkwardness, it would be just another modernist tower.


No podríamos alejarnos de la técnica del vidrio sin hablar del vidrio soplado. 



Del trabajo con vidrio hablamos en anteriores entradas cuando nos referimos a los vitrales, (31 Marzo y 9 abril 2012). También en las mismas entradas se hizo alusión a la vitrofusión, pero no hay duda de que cuando hablamos de la artesanía del vidrio, nos viene a todos a la retina la imagen del soplador en su taller, con su larga caña modelando el vidrio con el fuego, en una escena que parece ser mágica.



Es la técnica del vidrio soplado aquella que se trabaja mediante el “modelado” de las burbujas de vidrio fundido, la que nos ofrece el artesano inyectando aire a una pieza de vidrio a través de una caña o tubo metálico de forma artesanal, soplando por un extremo, o también de forma más industrial, por medio de una máquina. 


Esa “pompa” que se consigue es la que va a trabajar hasta lograr la forma deseada.

Las primeras piezas de vidrio se remontan a tiempos antiguos y en general eran piezas de joyería. Se añadían diferentes óxidos durante el fundido logrando con ellos colores diversos a la vez que formas variadas. Planearemos un poco por la historia para saber algo más de este arte y digo que planearemos porque, como es habitual, este rincón se queda pequeño para hablar de Historia y más cuando de Arte se trata. Así que resaltaremos los datos que son de más interés y dejaremos a la inquietud de cada uno investigar más profundamente en la historia y en la técnica de este bello Arte.

 El origen del trabajo con vidrio se encuentra, casi con toda seguridad, en el Mediterráneo y su propagación se la debemos a los romanos.

 En el 1500 a.C Las primeras vasijas aparecerían en el 1.500 a.C. posiblemente de manos de artesanos de Asia establecidos en Egipto. Fue en este país y en Mesopotamia dónde floreció esta técnica sobre 1.200 a.C.




 Se dice que Egipto produjo un vidrio coloreado en azul y verde que procedía de sílice puro y entre su producción se encontraban vasos, cuentas y amuletos, pero fueron en las costas fenicias en dónde se descubrió la técnica del vidrio soplado en el I aC y desde dónde se extendió en la época del imperio romano a lo largo de todo el Mediterráneo y llegó hasta Alemania.




La importancia del descubrimiento del vidrio soplado es enorme puesto que anteriormente se valían de diversos medios para trabajarlo que hacían la tarea mucho más complicada y ardua. Algunos recipientes por ejemplo, se trabajaban en bloques macizos. También se empleaban técnicas similares al fundido de la cerámica. Se fundían tiras de vidrio que luego se montaban unidas elaborando piezas de complicados diseños al estilo de los mosaicos.Se intercalaba en las bandas pan de oro y ricas ornamentaciones.

Anteriormente a los romanos la mayor parte de las piezas se elaboraban con una mezcla de arcilla y estiércol que se colocaba en una varilla. Esta forma que era en realidad el interior de la pequeña vasija, se introducía en una pasta vítrea y se aplanaba sobre una piedra hasta darle la forma. Los hilos de pasta posibilitaban recubrir la pieza de una “filigrana”de colores a la que luego se añadía las asas, pitorros, etc. En general se trabajaban piezas de pequeño tamaño.




La técnica del vidrio soplado que se extendió rápidamente por todo el Imperio Romano descubrió una manera más rápida de trabajar y también más barata y sobre todo dio lugar a un vidrio más fino. Durante el Imperio se desarrolló una fuerte industria en la que el uso del vidrio pasó a estar presente en todos los ámbitos. La decoración y el diseño se pulió y la mayoría de las técnicas decorativas que se desarrollaron en la época del Imperio Romano hicieron que la artesanía del vidrio tocara el techo.

Con la caída del Imperio esta industria se paralizó durante un tiempo sobre todo la de uso cotidiano.

En la edad Media fueron los artesanos de Norte de Europa y de Gran.Bretaña los que produjeron vidrio para uso diario, producción que se prolongó en alguna medida hasta la época moderna en toda Europa. Sobre la época Medieval tenemos que hacer un inciso en lo referente a la técnica del vidrio y es que fueron las vidrieras, como ya se ha mencionado en las entradas dedicadas a ellas, las que tuvieron vital importancia en el desarrollo de ese arte muy impulsado por la Iglesia.



Hay muchos países y regiones relacionados con la técnica del vidrio. El llamado cristal de Bohemia fabricado en lo que hoy es República Checa y Polonia se comenzó a fabricar a finales del XIII pero obtuvo su renombre a finales del XVI. Fueron los que dominaron este arte durante los dos siglos posteriores. Especialmente durante el barroco se crearon grandes obras con la técnica de vidriar y grabar, mezclando con el vidrio cobre y bronce.

 Y en este breve recorrido histórico hay que mencionar un lugar que posiblemente sea de los más íntimamente unidos al vidrio. Me refiero a Venecia. Hasta el año 1700 se puede decir que la industria del vidrio estuvo dominada desde la isla veneciana de Murano. Y hoy en día, como posteriormente veremos, decir Murano es decir artesanía del vidrio.



Los venecianos desarrollaron un vidrio refinado y transparente, semejante al cristal de roca. Se le conoció por el nombre de Cristallo y las piezas realizadas semejaban a joyas. También se hicieron piezas con color y a finales del XVI las piezas fueron cobrando mayor ligereza.

Todos los fabricantes intentaban lograr un vidrio semejante al veneciano. En Murano surgieron diseños, técnicas, y piezas que llevarían el nombre de esta isla por todo el mundo.

 No podría extenderme en la historia del vidrio sin alargar demasiado esta entrada. Como bien sabéis es el problema con el que siempre nos encontramos. El de hacer que los artículos resulten ligeros y amenos. Hay mucho por contar sobre el desarrollo del arte del vidrio por toda Europa porque aunque los artesanos venecianos tenían que cumplir una ley que no les permitía salir del país para no divulgar los secretos de su arte, muchos abandonaron Venecia para establecerse en Europa haciendo que la industria del vidrio se extendiera ampliamente.





Pero dejemos los primeros pasos de estos maestros para, en un salto, situarnos en lo que es el vidrio soplado en la actualidad.

 Porque como todo Arte, con sus dificultades, pero siempre de la mano de los muchos artistas que no cejan en el empeño de conservar las técnicas de nuestros antepasados, el vidrio soplado aún se puede adquirir realizado como esos venecianos que vemos en los grabados. Entrar en un taller de vidrio es remontarse al pasado y viajar a un mundo de magia.

 Los hornos para la fusión del vidrio en general tienen forma de cúpula y están divididos en varias partes. La de abajo en dónde se coloca el combustible. La del medio en dónde va la mezcla a fundir y la de arriba que es el lugar en dónde la producción ya realizada se va a depositar para que enfríe despacio.



La pasta está en contacto con el exterior por una abertura. El operario toma una cantidad de la pasta vítrea con la caña y a través de ella sopla para ir dando al objeto la forma. El calor que produce el horno hace que no pierda la capacidad de maleabilidad. Una vez lograda la forma se coloca en ese lugar de “recocido” para que siga su cocción a temperatura más gradual y más baja evitando roturas a causa de los cambios de temperatura. Como podéis observar, si alguno de vosotros leyó las entradas dedicadas al trabajo cerámico encontraréis mucha similitud también en el proceso de cocción.

Esta es la forma, como podéis suponer de trabajar el vidrio de la forma más artesanal, sin máquina alguna, solo con el soplo que infunde el artista, el fuego, el aire y los colores conseguidos con los óxidos.


Sobre los diseños habrá que decir que han ido adaptándose a los tiempos y ahí la creatividad es parte indiscutible a la hora de valorar las piezas. No hay más que visitar la isla de Murano hoy en día para saber apreciar esto. Desde las innumerable tiendecitas que nos ofrecen multitud de piezas sin gracia, repetidas, de colores chillones sin gusto fabricadas al por mayor, a las auténticas maravillas que nos dejan deslumbrados. Como en toda producción, encontramos la necesidad de vender que se nutre del consumismo y el diseño de calidad realizado con mimo y arte No hay mucho secreto. Es ésta por supuesto una opinión muy personal. Pero sigamos con las técnicas.

No hay duda de la importancia de éstas para obtener una buena producción. Todas las piezas, al igual que sucede con la cerámica, están realizadas con el mismo material, pero sus diferentes formas precisan de un dominio de la técnica. No será lo mismo trabajar un vaso que un plato, una copa que un objeto de joyería. Ahí está el dominio del artesano a la hora de calentar, de ablandar, de doblar, girar y todo ello en el momento preciso, aprovechando el instante, hasta lograr la pieza deseada. Vuelvo a recordar las hornadas de cerámica, sobre todo las de Rakú (este blog 16.4.2009), en las que tienes que decidir el momento preciso en el que se saca la pieza del horno y aplicar la reducción para lograr el resultado soñado. 

Como toda técnica precisa, el vidrio soplado requiere maestría y muchas horas de trabajo hasta lograr dominarla y en cuanto a su diseño, gusto, delicadeza y creatividad. 


La unión de técnica y diseño es lo que hace que una pieza se convierta en una obra de arte. Y esta unión ha hecho que la técnica del vidrio soplado llegue a nuestros días adaptándose a los tiempos y llegando a crear, no sólo piezas de uso cotidiano, sino obras únicas dignas de exposición. Para lograr una técnica perfecta se necesita realizar mil veces unos pasos medidos como es el calor del horno, el cálculo del grosor del vidrio para que éste no se fracture con los cambios bruscos de temperatura, saber cuando aplanar, cuándo girar y un largo etc., Pero para la obra total, también se necesita un diseño previo de aquello que se quiere realizar. Esta unión nos dará la obra perfecta. En mi opinión, la unión de la técnica y diseño en una misma persona facilitan un resultado idóneo. Cuando un diseñador que desconoce la técnica presenta en un papel la obra, el maestro artesano va a encontrar en ocasiones dificultades para realizar el trabajo, algo que no ocurre cuando diseñador y artesano son la misma persona. No obstante hemos encontrado en este camino del Arte muchas uniones felices. 


Esta creatividad en el mundo del vidrio, al igual que en otras muchas disciplinas, ha dado lugar a que muchas piezas que en su día fueron utilitarias hayan dado paso a objetos que unen diseño y utilidad o piezas simplemente artísticas. Esas que se realizan por el placer de crear. ¿Cuántas veces nos han preguntado para qué sirve una pieza? A mi particularmente muchas. Parecía que el artista tenía que justificar qué uso se iba a dar a la obra que realizaba. Si ésta no era útil, no servía. Por suerte para los amantes del arte, el paso del tiempo ha hecho que muchos de estos materiales que antes eran de uso funcional hoy en día se encuentren presentes en el mundo del Arte. No hay que justificar que una pieza de vidrio no “sirva” para contener nada, simplemente puede ser bella. En este cambio que se ha obrado, el desarrollo de las técnicas ha sido muy importante. Con la experimentación y desarrollo de las técnicas el mundo del diseño se vuelve inmenso y aunque las bases del trabajo sean las mismas que se utilizan desde tiempos ancestrales, el campo de la creatividad ya no tendrá vallas que lo contengan.


El vidrio, al igual que la cerámica, ha dado el salto al mundo artístico. Ya en las entradas anteriores mencioné el Fusing. Creo que es una técnica con muchas posibilidades en el mundo del Arte. Mediante fusión de diferentes placas coloreadas, se “juega” moldeando en el horno. Sus variantes son muchas. Tenemos las teselas para mosaicos conocidas desde siempre, pero hay otras como la de Roll Up desarrollada en EEUU con la que se logra placas sin necesidad de hornos de fundición. Algo así como un soplado en frío. 


En fin amigos, sólo resta decir que el mundo del vidrio es inmenso. Necesitaría un blog entero para navegar por toda su historia. Fijaros que apenas hemos hablado de sus técnicas y hemos ocupado tres entradas. Pero es que la Historia del Arte es inmensa. Es la historia de todos los humanos. Muchas veces he mencionado en los artículos de este blog que cuándo nos detenemos en un movimiento o en una disciplina concreta nos estamos deteniendo en un momento histórico. Porque la Historia del Arte es la historia de todos nosotros. 

Os dejo el enlace a un vídeo que nos lleva a viajar por ese mundo fantástico que he intentado describir.

Y una dirección con una recomendación especial para visitar, tanto el museo virtual como, por supuesto, el real. Me refiero al museo del Vidrio y Cristal de Málaga.

NOTA: Para mejor visualizar la fotografía “picar” con el ratón encima de las que interesen.
Para la lectura de entradas anteriores, ir a la ventana de la derecha y “picar” en los años y meses. Se desplegarán los títulos correspondientes a cada fecha.

Me he servido como es habitual de diversas fuentes para este resumen y para la fotografía:
Historia visual del Arte. (Edit.Larousse)
Historia del Arte E.H.Gombrich (Edi.Debate)
El arte del Vidrio. Foster Viv
La propia red.

In the Beginning: Alfred Henry Maurer

Alfred Henry Maurer (1868-1932) was an early American convert to European avant-garde modernism as practiced in the first decade of the 20th century, publicly proclaiming his conversion to The Cause around 1908. His Wikipedia entry is an odd, personalized piece that somehow escaped the "needs improvement" filter, so I suggest you try this link for a biographical sketch. His death was by suicide.

Nowadays Maurer seems to be an art history footnote, though he was known to the cognoscenti during his lifetime. Lewis Mumford, who I wrote about here, mentioned Maurer several times during his years as art critic for the New Yorker magazine; his columns have been collected in this book, which (pages 137-38) is my source for the quotations below.

"History knows him as the first American to return to this country animated by the new vision that was plaguing the Wild Men of Paris. (Before that time he had been in the line of Whistler and Dewing.) In 1908 Mr. Alfred Stieglitz showed Maurer's new work at '291' [Stieglitz's gallery] and at that moment American art began to move at right angles to its previous course."

"People knew that Maurer had talent. His flower pieces where charming, often brilliant; his elongated female heads, though a bit perturbing when repeated too often, were good. But though the notes were clear and the pitch true, the melody itself seemed limited. Had Maurer nothing else to say?"

"Of all the painters who developed abstract art during the last 20 years [this was written 1934-35], struggling for new symbols to express new states of mind and feeling, Maurer was one of a handful of genuine moderns who really felt these abstractions as experiences. His Cubist paintings are exciting and effective canvases; and if they were seen in the early days, one wonders that they did not attract greater attention. Nor was his success with these abstractions a matter of a momentary fresh vision that died out with repetition. The man kept on growing as a painter to the very end of his life..."

"Though it is too early to place Maurer -- if only because acquaintance with his work as a whole comes so tardily [Mumford was viewing a memorial exhibiiton] -- one can hardly doubt that he will count among the leaders of his generation rather than among the camp followers."

That said, let's take a look at examples of Maurer's work.


Two Heads - 1929

Untitled portrait - n.d.

Head of a Girl - 1929
The images above are examples of Maurer's modernist treatment of the human form. he also did Cubist-inspired still lifes.

Below are examples of his pre-modernist painting. Apparently 1901 was an especially productive year for him.

Self-Portrait - 1896-97

Girl in White - 1901

An Arrangement - 1901

Young Woman in a Kimono - 1901

I think Mumford was correct when he stated that Maurer had talent and that he caught the spirit of early 20th century modernism well. Moreover, it is important not to forget the times in which Maurer lived. As can be seen, he was a very competent traditional painter by the time he was in his thirties. And in his late thirties he abandoned all that, taking a professional gamble that the Fauves (and soon the Cubists) would transform art and not become flashes in the art history pan. This took a lot of courage.

That said, I find Maurer's modernist works to be quite ugly. It astonishes me how he was able to transition from producing attractive images to those that were the exact opposite while maintaining the conviction that he was doing the correct thing. Or perhaps not; he did kill himself, after all.


Jornadas sobre pensamiento del filósofo Rodolfo Kusch

Se llevarán a cabo en Maimará entre los días 3 y 5 de mayo, con la presencia de representantes de tres universidades nacionales.



Rodolfo Gunter Kusch, nacido en 1922 y fallecido en 1979, se cuenta entre aquellos que buscaron cimentar un pensamiento propio americano.

El espectro de sus pares es amplio y abarca distintas áreas que giran en torno a las disciplinas filosóficas, la educación y la historiografía, y que emergen como un diálogo fecundo entre las necesidades de las corrientes nacionales, que en argentina encarnara el peronismo como movimiento político, y los hallazgos del pensamiento europeo de entonces.

En ese marco, Kusch, como tantos otros desde distintas perspectivas, buscaron dar con los modos de un pensamiento que surgiera de nuestras propias raíces y acompañaron las distintas experiencias que, desde lo político, se proyectaron como nacionales.

Así, en la segunda edición de su Pensamiento Indígena y Popular en América, escribe que "el año 1973, marca una etapa importante en el país. Argentina ha puesto en marcha la posibilidad de su autenticidad.

Entre todas las propuestas económicas y sociales de todo cuño que suelen adoptar fácilmente como solución, surge una clara propuesta cultural brotada de las raíces más profundas del pueblo. Quisiera yo que éstas páginas sirvan para entender esa propuesta, al fin de que no sea malversada una vez más."

Pero ya en 1975, atado desde el pensamiento al devenir de la experiencia, debe escribir que "de una Argentina como hogar, o sea como domicilio existencial, donde el hombre logra constituirse a través de sus símbolos, se impone bruscamente la patria como lugar del padre, donde se dan las decisiones políticas inspiradas en un concepto del ser nacional que no surge del hogar."

Y agrega que "desde Sarmiento se persigue para destruir la significación que tiene el perseguido. Se persigue porque no se quiere ser, porque se huye de la autenticidad. Porque en un mundo sin persecución se vería la verdadera cara del perseguido que no es otra que la del mendigo. Y para evitar esto conviene que no se detenga, que se disperse a los cuatro vientos, porque si se detuviera asomaría toda la indigencia en que radica lo argentino, por la misma razón de que solo vivir ya es indigencia y porque una autenticidad cultural no puede darse sino con la indigencia humana en general."

En permanente diálogo con la realidad nacional y con el pensar de su gente, donde debe buscarse el modo de ese pensamiento que buscaba des-cubrir, en un tiempo que Rodolfo Walsh, otro gran pensador nacional, define como "de retirada para la clase obrera, derrota para las capas medias y desbande en sectores intelectuales y profesionales", Rodolfo Kusch decide recluirse en la, entonces, silenciosa y apartada localidad de Maimará, donde profundiza sus escuchas y conclusiones sobre la base de un pensar andino.


Su obra, por la misma complejidad de sus formas, por sus expresiones técnicas y poéticas a la vez, y por los tiempos que llamaban al silencio, y que deliberadamente buscaron silenciarlo, fue descubriéndose poco a poco y es, aún, digerida con lentitud y de manera dispar, abriendo horizontes distintos según la persona y la disciplina desde la que se la aborde.

Ello se verá, sin duda, en las Segundas Jornadas sobre su pensamiento, que se llevarán a cabo en Maimará entre los días 3 y 5 de mayo, convocadas por tres universidades nacionales: Unsa, Unju y Untref.

Estarán presentes Elizabeth Lanata de Kusch, Florencia Kusch, Francisco Piñon, Claudio Ongaro Haelterman, Carlos Cullen, Mauricio Langon y serán coordinadas por Adriana Zaffaroni (Unsa), José A. Tasat (Untref) y Mario Vilca (Unju).

Al mismo tiempo, se convoca a la presentación de relatos de experiencias: "Influencia y presencia del pensamiento Rodolfo Kusch" para compartir en los talleres, en las diferentes vertientes: artística, antropológica, sociológica, política, educativa, científica y filosófica, los que deberán ser presentados, antes del 30 del corriente mes, a los mails:, o

Three Faces Along El Paseo

There are several small cities that punch above their weight where the presence of art galleries is concerned. I'm less familiar with the eastern and central parts of the USA than I used to be, but here in the west places that come to mind are Taos and Santa Fe in New Mexico, Scottsdale in Arizona and Carmel-by-the-Sea in California.

Also in California is Palm Desert in the state's ritzy winter vacationland with its scores of golf courses, tennis clubs, time-share condominiums and nice restaurants. The heart of the Palm Desert gallery scene is El Paseo, a fancy shopping street where the galleries compete for the shopper's dollar with the likes of Saks Fifth Avenue, St. John, Bottega Veneta, Burberry, Escada and Gucci.

I was checking out the galleries recently, taking notes on artists whose work interested me in terms of blog subject material. Mulling things over, I thought it might be interesting to compare how three different artists dealt with the human face. Let's take a look:


By Adrian Gottlieb
Gottlieb is a traditionalist who focuses on the human face and figure in near (but not quite) photorealistic style.

By John Erickson
When I "studied" art at the University of Washington, one of my instructors was John Erickson. But not the John Erickson whose painting is shown above. That John Erickson instructs drawing and probably other subjects at the University of Utah. Clearly Erickson knows how to construct a human face. But since he considers himself a modernist of some ilk and perhaps needs to feature a signature style to market his paintings, he adds bits to the basics. Such features include odd, unexpected colors, small geometrical patches such as you see here, and even small collage additions. Thanks to the generally correct underlying drawing, these add-ons can be tolerable in cases where Erickson restrains himself (which he doesn't always do). He also does abstract art.

By Vladimir Cora
Cora, a Mexican, does crude-looking expressionist near-abstractions, this one based on a face. I regard it as ho-hum modernism that offers me, at least, little of interest.

It should be noted that paintings by these artists are in major Palm Desert galleries and presumably have audiences of potential buyers. The range of styles is typical of the gallery scene along the Paseo.

San Cosme 2012

Se viene la tercera edición del prestigioso encuentro internacional de Arte Público de la Ciudad de San Cosme, en Corrientes, organizado por el Taller Jaguar Azul.
En esta oportunidad el Taller Gambartes estará ausente con aviso.
Les deseamos lo mejor y brindamos con ustedes, a la distancia. M.C.


Rosario- Argentina, 2012

En el marco del FORO Latinoamericano de Desarrollo Sostenible Rosario, el domingo 22 de abril los artistas Camilo Guinot y Maximiliano Peralta Rodriguez presentan en la Explanada CEC su obra Dinámicas Inestables, escultura de construcción comunitaria realizada con materiales reciclados.
La obra comenzará a construirse el miércoles 18 en la Explanada CEC lo que permitirá al público ser parte del proceso de producción.