Don’t miss the Des Moines Art Center’s “Transparencies” show of glass artwork

Jim Dingilian fills liquor bottles with smoke and then, using custom-made tools, scrapes away the soot to create astonishingly detailed scenes. “Missing Sentinels among Halted Construction” is from 2012. (McKenzie Fine Art/Special to the Register)

When I lived in, and later visited, upstate New York, I used to enjoy going to the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, N.Y. which became increasingly sophisticated in its exhibits over the years.  We got a glimpse of some cutting-edge glass artwork yesterday, near my present home, at the Des Moines Art Center.  We  thoroughly enjoyed an exhibit of work by 10 artists from around the world who do some remarkable things with glass – and I’m not even talking about Dale Chiluly here (whom some think is overexposed but I still like his work.)

Among our favorites from the show is the work (above) by Jim Dingilian (U.S.)  who somehow manages to create paintings inside of old liquor bottles – apparently filling the bottle with smoke and then somehow removing portions of the smoke stains to  create very intricate images of old cars and couches and landscapes. I still don’t quite get how he does it. Judith Schaechter, another American, does eery but gorgeous Medieval-type stained glass windows (see below) with characters that look like they walked out of a Tim Burton movie. How fun would it be to go to a church with her windows! (Don’t think that will happen anytime soon.)

There’s also (see further below) a mesmerizing  installation by Ray Hwang (from Korea) in a darkened room that almost defies easy description – but I’ll give it a go. It combines light, video and the image of a chandelier created by thousands of crystal beads upon a plexiglass panel  – to create the sensation of a chandelier that gradually lights up during   a rain storm. Okay, I didn’t do it justice. You have to see it.

Judith Schaechter creates stained glass using centuries-old techniques from medieval churches. But the stories her windows tell, as in “Mad Meg” from 2010, are the products of her own imagination. (Judith Schaechter/Special to the Register)

The DSM Register also has a good  slide show and story about the exhibit. See:

The Transparencies show was small so we spent another hour or so wandering around the rest of the museum, admiring old favorites (by Edward Hopper, John Singer Sargent, Anselm Kiefer, Grant Wood) and catching some new views – including an interesting installation by Ai Weiwei, the dissident Chinese artist/activist, and a crazy video of a McDonald’s during a flood, slowly filling up with water (complete with poor Ronald bobbing in the waves), as well as work I’d never seen before  by Alex Katz, Cindy Sherman and others.

Although it’s difficult to photograph, Ran Hwang’s 2010 “Garden of Water” shimmers with light from a video, projected onto Plexiglas panels pinned with thousands of crystal beads. (Leila Heller Gallery/Special to the Register)

Contemporary Art & A History of Glass

February 22 — May 22, 2013
Anna K. Meredith Gallery

Above: Monir Farmanfarmaian (Iranian, born 1924)
Convertible Series, Group 10, 2011

Transparencies brings together a group of international contemporary artists whose work explores glass as both medium and as subject matter. Each creates contemporary art that connects with the history of glasswork, from luxury objects such as chandeliers and mirrors to household items like drinking vessels and light bulbs. Many forms of glass are represented, from delicate, hand-worked mirrors to industrial sheets of Plexiglas, as well as works that despite appearances, are not made of glass at all. The artists selected for Transparencies come from around the world, and vary widely in their art-making practices. Some have always worked with glass, both actually and conceptually, while others have only explored it occasionally. Combining sculpture, video, and installation with traditional forms of artisan techniques such as stained glass and blown glass, Transparencies explores the role of glass in today’s contemporary art world as well as our everyday lives.

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Filed under Des Moines, museum exhibit, THE ARTS

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