On Sunday, November 12 from 2 to 3 p.m., three glass artists--Kale Haschak, Elizabeth Raybee, and Ferdinand Thieriot--whose work is included in the Grace Hudson Museum's striking current exhibit "Mastering the Molten: Mendocino County Art Glass," will participate in a gallery tour and talk about their work and creative process. Each artist will speak for about 15 minutes and take audience questions. Museum Curator Karen Holmes will facilitate the tour, which is free with Museum admission.
Glass art is the kind of living contradiction on which the artistic process thrives: While glass is often employed to be functional--either to reflect an image back to the viewer or to be used as a medium to see through--glass art instead becomes the actual object under view. Glass artists bend, cast, blow, carve and fuse their material in a variety of ways to fashion their creations, which may range from traditional vases of many shapes and sizes to abstract or figurative sculptures (such as those by Ferdinand Thieriot); mixed media work that involves incorporating a variety of non-glass objects (such as Kale Haschak's "Gaff Rattle"); and glass mosaic compositions (the main medium employed by Elizabeth Raybee).
Raybee's artworks often include bits of text incorporating her childhood memories or even entire poems, such as "List of the Broken," a large mosaic commemorating the Baghdad bookselling neighborhood that was devastated by a car bomb in 2007, with lines written by former Ukiah poet laureate Armand Brint rising above a representation of the ruins. Reflecting on her artistic process, Raybee muses: "Nothing emerges from the hands without traveling through the brain’s view of history and relationships. ...The immersion of these thoughts and experiences are shaped by various materials’ journeys through the nippers and kiln, under the hammer, adhesives and grout."
Like Raybee, Ferdinand Thieriot migrated from San Francisco well over a decade ago in order to create his art in a rural environment while still participating in a community of thriving artists–one of the blessings of Mendocino County. His delicately carved glass sculptures manage to appear both ordinary and mysterious, featuring human forms that morph and meld into other human or human-made objects. Thieriot is most interested in "the intangible space ... between life and death, wakefulness and sleep, personal and perceived identity." This pursuit has followed him during a varied career studying and teaching around the world, including the famed Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Washington, 50 miles north of Seattle.
Kale Haschak also benefited from the expertise of students and teachers at the Pilchuck School, where he eventually took classes after leaving his native Willits at the age of 17 for Arcata, and then the Seattle area. After an intensive eight-year period that included leading a production team for world-renowned glass sculptor Martin Blank, Haschak returned to Willits, where he continues to carve an innovative path. His blown glass, sculptures and mixed-media assemblages employ traditional glassmaking designs and techniques in combination with the raw power and chaos of the natural world that so impressed him during his upbringing in the heart of Mendocino County.
The vibrancy of the work on display and the accessibility to local artists is an especially pertinent theme to many people now. Several artists taking part in this exhibit had to evacuate their homes and studios during the recent fires; all are grateful that they and their creations emerged intact, while mourning the losses of those friends and neighbors who were not so lucky. As Holmes notes, "We take this opportunity to celebrate the resilience of our communities and the beautiful creations that can arise from fire tamed in the hands of the master glassmiths of Mendocino County."
"Mastering the Molten: Mendocino County Art Glass" will be on display until January 28, 2018. The Grace Hudson Museum is at 431 S. Main St. in Ukiah. The Museum is open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 4:30 p.m. General admission is $4; $10 per family; $3 for students and seniors; free to all on the first Friday of the month; and always free to members. For more information please go to www.gracehudsonmuseum.org or call (707) 467-2836.