A TOUCH OF GLASS

The Hamilton Spectator - - GO - REGINA HAGGO dhaggo@thes­pec.com

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.

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Paull Ro­drigue, Squig­gle, $3,000, glass wall plaque, 32 by 24 inches.

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Be­low: Mark Gane, Fit­ness Land­scape 6, $1,800, mixed me­dia photo paint­ing.

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Paull Ro­drigue, Ma­genta, $4,500, free-stand­ing glass ves­sel, about 25 inches tall.

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