June 29, 2009

Cafe Gandolfi and the Flock of Fishes

A nice simple video about the commission "Flock of Fishes" for the Cafe Gandolfi in Glasgow, Scotland, with stained glass by John K Clark. "Flock of Fishes" is an early work by Clark, dated 1984-1987, but it's one of his most famous and popular despite his numerous successful commissions since then. I've been to the Cafe Gandolfi and can personally attest that it's a wonderful place and the 'fishes' is a wonderful work of stained glass.

I wish there were more videos like this on YouTube. Telling the story behind a stained glass commission, using simple narration by the artist.

Most videos on YouTube having to do with stained glass are so bad, with cheesy music, no information, and just bad filmmaking all around.

Lesson for today - keep it simple and informative.

Posted by Tom at 10:58 AM

June 28, 2009

Cars Break Bones...

The first stained glass co-production of Gwyneth D. Krepcio and Tom Krepcio.

Based on an incident in May when my ten year old daughter Gwyneth and I were nearly hit by a car while walking the dog in the streets of St. Louis. The cel-phone-wielding SUV driver didn't see us while we were crossing an intersection and we had to bolt into a full run to avoid getting hit. The SUV missed Gwyneth by inches. I was livid and we were both seriously spooked by the whole thing. As soon as we got home, Gwyneth wrote out the poem. I worked up the design shortly after, adding the 'drive safely' at the bottom. We picked out the colors/glass together, and she even cut some of the glass! She scratched out the stars, I did the lettering, fired the glass and assembled the final panel.

Posted by Tom at 06:13 PM

June 24, 2009

Jon Kuhn and Salem Stained Glass

I've been busy recently and I'm only now catching up with this press release from about 4 weeks ago - New Technique Promises to Revolutionize Traditional Stained Glass Windows. The press release announces a collaboration between the glass sculptor Jon Kuhn and Salem Stained Glass.

The press release has generated some buzz. On the AGG bulletin board, there has been an ongoing discussion thread called Cold Glass Artist Jon Kuhn. A smaller thread with some better images of the sample 'Sacred Glass' pieces can be seen on the SGAA forum thread called Kuhn cold glass artist and traditional stained glass.

The press release also brought about this a recent article called Jewels' of Glass: Salem Stained Glass, Winston-Salem glass artist create works to tap into upscale residential market, from the Winston Salem Journal website.

Promotional video for 'Sacred Glass'

full disclosure - I worked at Salem Stained Glass for 3 years (2001-2004), with 2 of those as production manager. They're good people and they do good work. Plenty of flashbacks seeing the shop in the video.

More on Kuhn's work (including another video) and my own take on the collaboration, including a few caveats, below the fold...

Though I never met him or visited his studio when I lived in North Carolina, I've been familiar with Jon Kuhn's work for nearly 20 years. I first saw it on display at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. I find it pretty dazzling though I think I prefer the basic cubes over the later more elaborate shapes. See for yourself. If you haven't seen his work, the best intro I've come across is this YouTube video of Jon Kuhn at the Hawk Galleries. It's about 8 minutes. He talks about his background and techniques, and plenty of his work is shown.

So - what's my honest impression of all this? Basically, I believe that the idea of studio glass artists collaborating with stained glass artists is a very good thing and I would encourage it anytime. Too many stained glass artists live in a bubble, with little interest in art forms outside of what they do.

That said, I do see some challenges for this particular collaboration. Not insurmountable, of course, but the issues are there nonetheless.

1) The Aesthetic Disconnect - a.k.a. the transmitted light thing.
Kuhn's work is sculpture. Though transparency is a key element, it is mostly dependent on reflected light, that is, with the lighting bouncing off the sculpture and back at you. Whereas stained glass windows are mainly, sometimes totally, dependent on transmitted light, with the effect coming from light traveling through the glass to your eyes. I tend to think that elements included in stained glass that rely on reflected light for full effect don't work well incoporated into stained glass.

Will that prove to be a factor here? How will the intricate inclusions look next to the factory created sheet glass? Will the complex crystaline pieces look odd next to factory made sheet glass, especially machine rolled opalescent? Impossible for me to say until I see the actual panels and not just images on the web.

2) The Price Points.
The prices quoted in the press release are very high. The sample they site, $20,000 for a 24" x 37" panel, comes in at more than $3200 a square foot. I know Kuhn gets big bucks for his sculptures, but those buyers are studio glass collectors, not churches. I have seen a few instances where churches will pay a much higher price for the prospect of getting a 'name recognition' artist, but the notion of getting more than $3,200 a square foot for stained glass is a bit hard to believe, at least in this economic climate. Most studios I know of start at around $150-200 a square foot for the simplest of designs (with even lower starting price points in the Southeast) and go upwards of $500-1000 a sqaure foot for more complex work. I suspect the Kuhn/Salem team would do best going for the high end residential market, rather than churches.

3) The Longevity of Laminated Glass in an architectural setting.
The comments on the AGG board mostly honed in on the prospect of Kuhn's laminated pieces not being able to withstand the test of time technically. That the lamination will fail, especially if subjected directly to varied weather conditions. Indeed, laminated pieces are still a question mark over a long period of time. Kuhn's sculptural work has always been in gallery and museum settings, not subjected to extremes of temperature, humidity, precipitation or wind. It might not be such an issue if they were not stating in the press release - 'I want my panels to last forever'.

Posted by Tom at 09:22 PM

June 20, 2009

Medieval Summer in New York City.

New York is the place for Medievalists this summer as there are two top notch exhibitions going on right now.

Pen and Parchment: Drawing in the Middle Ages is a show of drawings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. While at the Met you can also see the recently authenicated First Painting of Michaelangelo. The painting was presumable done when he was just 13, and it is Michelangelo's version of a Schongauer engraving, Saint Anthony Tormented by Demons.

Pages of Gold: Medieval Illuminations from the Morgan - The Morgan Library and Museum is another one of my favorite places in New York city. I'm sure this is a great show.

If you can't make it (like me) then the Morgan has been generous enough to post the images on their website, in high resolution, all zoomable, so you can pore over the details. There are some surprises when looking deep into the details.

Just one quick example - this is a portion of a page showing the Adoration of the Magi, 1500. But if I was asked where this came from I might just as easily imagine it a modern illustration for a children's book.

I'm always fascinated by the details. Go to the website and have a good browse. Better yet, if you're in NYC, go to the Morgan and see them yourself.

Posted by Tom at 05:48 AM

June 10, 2009

GAS Conference 2009

The Glass Art Society Conference 2009 is this week in Corning New York. Lookinig at the website, it looks to be a huge event. Once again, very little 'flat glass' presence, to the point where the only event of the conference directly related to stained glass, the Tiffany Windows in Western New York Tour, was cancelled due to low registration.
Still, I do know of a few SG artists who will be attending. Good luck to them. I'll relay reports if I hear anything.

Posted by Tom at 11:16 AM

June 02, 2009

Chagall Windows at Tudeley Church Kent UK

Tudeley Church, Kent, England
12 windows by Marc Chagall, and one of only 2 sites in Great Britain with Chagall windows.
The windows date from 1967 to 1985, the year of Chagall's death.

The Great East Window, 1967, a memorial tribute to Sarah d'Avigdor-Goldsmid.

click to enlarge
photo by flickrite ruthandjohnny...

Flickr Search for 'Tudeley' + 'Chagall'.
Lots of good stuff here. Take the time to search out the details.

Here's a video tour of the church. As usual in an amatuer video, it's a bit shaky and too contrasty, but it does give some idea of the layout, and as an extra bonus (this being a group of Dowsers doing the tour) you get to know how the energy flows around the building...

Posted by Tom at 11:07 AM