A TOUCH OF GLASS
Paull Rodrigue says people have a habit of getting out of his way whenever he picks up one of his glass sculptures.
I speak with him as he’s setting up his exhibition at the Carnegie Gallery. It’s called Aura: an exploration in glass, colour and light.
I’m enchanted by his creations. Some look quite sturdy, others more fragile. They reflect, absorb, shimmer and cast coloured shadows depending on how and when light strikes them. All of them glow with punchy and sultry colours.
Colour is Rodrigue’s passion. So is the need “to do something different,” he tells me. And that includes experimenting with various glass-making methods.
Rodrigue, 45, has been blowing glass for about 20 years. He works out of a studio in Greensville with Tobias Moriarty.
Rodrigue bought the studio space from glass artist Cheryl Takacs. Both Rodrigue and Takacs studied with the late Shirley Elford, glass artist extraordinaire.
He’s just finished polishing “Magenta,” a vessel that is about 25 inches tall. It boasts an oval body that narrows toward the top.
Rodrigue says he tried a traditional Italian glass-blowing technique called incalmo that involves welding, or fusing, one body of glass to another.
Viewing “Magenta” from one side gives you red, orange, blue and green loops and arcs in the foreground. But you are also able to see what colours lie in the background through the colours in the foreground. This gets you what Rodrigue calls bonus colours because those in the background are transformed when seen through the foreground ones.
Compared with the earthbound sturdiness of “Magenta,” the series of three wall plaques looks more fragile. Each piece features canes, or rods, of glass twisted into long and short coloured lines and small flat shapes. Lines and shapes overlap and tangle, creating a strong sense of movement.
“I pull a length of cane, bending some and swirling others, then assemble in the kiln,” he says. “I cannot predict how they will lay out once the kiln goes up in temperature and the canes all slump and bend into their resting spots.”
Rodrigue says he loves such a spontaneous method of working.
And he’s no slouch when it comes to recycling his leftovers, the bits of glass that get removed when the shape of a piece is firmed up. Rodrigue’s “Shadow Box Series” incorporates the gorgeous leftovers into small, highly animated and abstracted compositions.
Highly animated compositions also define Mark Gane’s photo paintings. His exhibition, Fitness Landscapes, complements Rodrigue’s show. But Gane reduces his palette to black, grey and white.
Gane created The Fitness Landscapes between 2004 and 2016. The black and white images recall cut-outs from newspaper ads of people working out on exercise equipment. Human and machine are almost indistinguishable.
Gane arranges the cut-outs onto a panel leaving lots of space in between. He then applies paint in the spaces, working in layered and rhythmical movements. And he paints the backs of his metal frames red, so they give off an unexpected glow.
Mark Gane is well known for founding, in 1977, Martha and the Muffins, a Canadian new-wave band. He is now involved in experimental music and performance art. He will be giving an improvisational performance, with percussionist Ray Dillard, at the Carnegie Gallery, on Saturday, Feb. 18, starting at 7 p.m. Tickets $10.
Paull Rodrigue, Squiggle, $3,000, glass wall plaque, 32 by 24 inches.
Below: Mark Gane, Fitness Landscape 6, $1,800, mixed media photo painting.
Paull Rodrigue, Magenta, $4,500, free-standing glass vessel, about 25 inches tall.