IN THE REGION
By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
UTICA – Heat wave be damned — at the Munson Williams Proctor Art Institute is bringing the fire.
“The Hot Glass Road Show” – The Corning Museum of Glass’ mobile glass-blowing studio – will be here from Friday – Aug. 2 – until Aug. l1, with demonstrations, classes and live glass-blowing exhibitions, all parked on the MWP’s front lawn at 310 Genesee St.
It’s part of the institute’s Louis Comfort Tiffany exhibit, on view through Sept. 8. “To see this Tiffany glass in person, you really understand why it is the pinnacle of stained glass,” said Anna D’Ambrosio, MWP president. “He was painting with color and light in 3-D.”
The exhibit – a traveling show that was last at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa – contains 60 pieces from the private Driehaus collection in Chicago, including the “River of Life” window.
In 2013, a smaller exhibit of Tiffany glass, including seven Angel windows taken from a Swedish church, came through the museum. “We had such a wonderful response that a larger exhibition of his other glass was an obvious choice,” she said.
The Driehaus collection includes stained-glass windows, lampshades, art glass and vases. “We wanted to show the whole breadth of what was being produced,” she said. “These pieces span the works of his career. No one accomplished what he did.”
What makes Tiffany glass so remarkable, she said, is that unlike most stained glass, which is painted on, all the effects and colors are in the glass themselves. “All the colors and textures, the shading, those techniques were all created by Tiffany studios for Tiffany studios. The only time he used paint was on faces and hands.”
In windows, for instance, glass would be layered to give the desired effects of light and shading.
Her favorites, she said, are some of his Floriform vases, all of them inspired, as much of his work was, by nature.
“I was giving a tour and the visitors couldn’t believe they weren’t painted,” she said. “There’s such a delicate variation of color and the stems are so delicate. People think of glass as fragile and hard, but he was able to make it look like the soft petals of a flower.”
The Hot Glass Road Show will end with the “Fire and Ice” party on Friday, Aug. 9, which will include fire dancers and an ice sculpture of Tiffany’s Dragonfly lamp.
That day, there will also be a talk by Dr. Martin Eidelberg, co-author of “A New Light on Tiffany: Clara Driscoll and the Tiffany Girls.” “Clair Driscoll headed the Women’s Glass Cutting Department at Tiffany and was one of the primary glass designers,” said D’Ambrosio. “She designed so much of what we think of as Tiffany glass.”
But the exhibit doesn’t have to stay to the museum. Around the Utica area, visitors can see some of Tiffany’s works still in use. “The Auburn Chapel has one, and the Westminster Church has seven,” she said. “Grace Church also has one, and there are several in the capital district.”
In Otsego County, there are two at Christ Church in Cooperstown and seven in Richfield Springs.
“I don’t know how to describe his work,” said D’Ambrosio. “Amazing artistry doesn’t even begin to describe it.”