Clara Hughes to speak at Bishop’s

Dif­fer­ent places – dif­fer­ent pas­sions

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Vic­to­ria Vanier, Stanstead East

Af­ter two weeks of hol­i­days, it’s al­ways nice to ease back into the work rou­tine with a pleas­ant as­sign­ment like an in­ter­view with a dy­namic, East­ern Town­ships artist. And that’s just how I started 2011, at the home of Marika

Sz­abo, a lo­cal artist with an in­ter­est­ing du­al­ity: she prac­tices the art of stained glass much of the year at her home in Stanstead East, and does print-mak­ing dur­ing the win­ter in Ari­zona, where she has won awards with her prints an­nu­ally.

“I do my glass­work here but I go to Ari­zona in the win­ter for the sun, so I set up a print-mak­ing stu­dio there,” ex­plained Ms. Sz­abo who moved to the East­ern Town­ships about thirty-five years ago.

Al­though born in Hun­gary and raised in Cal­i­for­nia and other places, Marika seemed to fit in eas­ily with the East­ern Town­ships ‘way of life’. “We built a tim­ber frame home, cut­ting the wood for it on our prop­erty and get­ting it cut up at the sawmill in Fitch Bay. We had a ‘barn-rais­ing’ with about thirty friends. It was flip­ping freez­ing that day and I made a lot of food!” re­mem­bered Marika.

It was also con­ve­nient liv­ing close to the border since, as an Amer­i­can, she could work in the United States. “I was very lucky to be able to work in the United States be­cause my French wasn’t good enough to work here,” said Marika who held many dif­fer­ent jobs as she worked on her art part time, in­clud­ing the job of Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of the Haskell Free Li­brary and Opera House at the time when the tower was built. Now that Ms. Sz­abo has re­tired from ‘reg­u­lar’ work, she’s more than happy to be able to con­cen­trate full time on her art.

Armed with a col­lege de­gree in Hu­man­i­ties, Marika first dived into the art world as a pot­ter. “I started tak­ing pot­tery classes and then did pro­duc­tion pot­tery, but even­tu­ally de­cided that pot­tery was not for me. Then while I was vis­it­ing a rel­a­tive in Cal­i­for­nia, since I don’t sit around real good, I took a stained glass course,” she com­mented. “I soon got a com­mis­sion to do some work and it just took off from there. Pre­dictably, I first be­gan do­ing flow­ers; I love flow­ers and I have a huge gar­den. I also like ma­chin­ery so I did that for awhile.” A huge stained glass of a red, semi-trailer truck hangs in the win­dow be­hind Marika as we talk, a re­minder of that ear­lier pe­riod.

“A streak in me wants to sim­plify; I like pears so I did only pears for awhile,” she con­tin­ued. With some hes­i­ta­tion, Marika be­gan ex­per­i­ment­ing with geo­met­ric shapes. “Some of my clients were dis­mayed but I found new peo­ple who liked it. A teacher once told me ‘Don’t do what’s ex­pected of you – do what ob­sesses you!’”

Speak­ing of ob­ses­sions, Marika had wanted to learn print­mak­ing since her twen­ties but only started five or six years ago. “When I re­tired I thought: now’s my chance to learn print-mak­ing while I’m in Ari­zona!” Marika now be­longs to an Ari­zona Print group, of­ten par­tic­i­pat­ing in ex­hibits and win­ning awards reg­u­larly for her unique prints.

“I like to use ‘found’ ob­jects in my print­mak­ing; I hate waste. In Tuc­son, near the rail­way tracks, I’ve found re­ally neat pieces of metal. You’d be sur­prised what falls off of trains,” said the artist.

This love of re­cy­cling has also in­flu­enced Marika to try a new tech­nique with glass: cre­at­ing glass mo­saics. “I’d wanted to make mo­saics for a long time so I fi­nally started af­ter my last show. Over the years I’ve ac­cu­mu­lated boxes of scraps of glass – per­fect for mo­saics.”

With typ­i­cal stained glass, each piece of glass is wrapped in cop­per and then sol­dered down. “That tech­nique can drive you crazy! But I started fus­ing glass a few years ago and now I’m hav­ing a lot of fun with the mo­saics.”

Clients and oth­ers who visit Marika’s stu­dio for the first time are usu­ally sur­prised: it’s a bright yel­low school bus! “I needed a stu­dio. I was driv­ing down Hack­ett Road and saw a parked school bus and no­ticed that it had lots of win­dows - good for hang­ing glass. So I went to an auc­tion to try to buy one but it was too ex­pen­sive at around $8000. But there I met a man from Derby who had a school bus that he wanted to sell for $2000 - and he had al­ready taken out all the seats.”

When I asked Ms. Sz­abo where she found the in­spi­ra­tions for her del­i­cate glass mo­saics and award-win­ning prints, she an­swered: “ I love rocks. Rocks and glass are the same thing so there’s a nat­u­ral affin­ity. ‘Found’ ob­jects also in­spire me. But I don’t get ideas and then start work­ing. It’s when I start work­ing that I get ideas.”

To find out more about Marika Sz­abo or to view her art­work, visit her web­site at yel­low­busstu­dio. com

photo Vic­to­ria Vanier

Marika Sz­abo in her school­bus stu­dio – the per­fect `ve­hi­cle` for dis­play­ing her stained glass cre­ations.

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