The components of glass are as simple as the rock of a basalt cliff, the heat of an August day and the dust of a gravel road. Crushed limestone, crushed sand, sodium carbonate and fire are the time-honored ingredients of glassmaking, which goes back at least 4,000 years. The resulting substance -- glossy, clear, strong, yet fragile -- looks nothing like its humble elements and yet retains its affinity to nature. We see the natural world through glass windows in our homes it washes up on beaches in softly transparent, burnished pebbles; it holds the liquids we need to survive.
This weekend, the manicured lawns of Arbor Crest will be host to all sorts of glass compositions as GLASS ON THE GRASS takes place for the third year in a row.
"There's going to be jewelry, stained glass, lampwork figurines, expressive art pieces, marbles and more," says Conrad Bagley, owner of the Cat's Eye Gallery and founder of Glass on the Grass. "We're really focused on having a wide range of work available."
As in years past, Arbor Crest will sell wine by the glass or the bottle, and this year Luna offers salads, sandwiches, desserts, coffee and non-alcoholic drinks. Rumor has it that there will be massage chairs as well, on the off chance that looking at art with a glass of wine in a beautiful venue isn't quite relaxing enough.
In keeping with the rarefied atmosphere, the planners of this event are quick to stress that Glass on the Grass is no ordinary craft fair but is in fact an exhibition of fine art glassmaking.
"I have to admit that one of my, I don't know, pet peeves I guess, is the misperception that glassmaking is a craft, or worse, a hobby," says Bagley. "There are craftspersons who do glass who are very skilled, who make beautiful things. But art is an expression of creativity, it's all about stretching the boundaries and trying new ways of doing things. And that's what this event is all about."
The roster for Glass on the Grass, in fact, includes more than 25 artists, including well-known local glassworkers Louise Telford and Steve Adams, but also a number of regional glassmakers from all over the Pacific Northwest. The event is also a joint project with the Inland Northwest Glass Guild, a fledgling and loosely knit organization of professional glassmakers.
"We're still developing the INGG, but our hope is that it will provide better resources for buying glass, in terms of the public, and also for what it gives the individual glass blower. It gives me a place to exchange ideas or to ask for advice on the technical aspects of a project."
Glass on the Grass is at Arbor Crest Winery, N. 4703 Fruithill Road, on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 18 and 19, from 11 am-7 pm. Free. Call: 389-2930.
Brush with Genius
While the tools of one's artistic trade -- say, a handful of colored pencils, a ream of watercolor paper, a potting wheel or a camera loaded with film -- are just as important as the finished work itself, it's not very often that they are themselves works of art. University of Idaho professor and artist GLENN GRISHKOFF, whose exhibit opens at the Corner Gallery at North Idaho College this weekend, designs brushes that can limn the tiniest bit of framework on a dragonfly's wing or drag delicate grooves into a fresh curve of pottery. But the brushes themselves, crafted out of bamboo, bone, driftwood and more, are just as fascinating.
"I saw his exhibit at the Prichard Gallery in Moscow and there was this one beautiful brush made out of carved, laminated wood, and I asked him if he laminated the wood himself," says Sharon Sutherland of the Coeur d'Alene Council for the Arts' (CCA) Gallery Committee. "He said, 'No, it's an old tennis racket handle.' And sure enough, it was."
Grishkoff's show, an installation, repeats the exhibit he created for the Prichard Gallery.
"The gallery space will be divided in half, and one side will be walls of tea bowls in different stages of production. Some will be painted, others will be unglazed yet. On the other side will be brushes on hanging racks, with eight to 10 brushes on each," Sutherland explains. "People can just walk up and select a bowl to buy, which is what he did at the Prichard, and he'll also be on hand on Friday afternoons demonstrating with his potting wheel."
Grishkoff, who has even made brushes out of salt and pepper shakers, a beer spigot and moose hair, will also offer a brushmaking workshop on Saturday, Sept. 15, when the exhibit closes.
"The Gallery as the Studio: Redefining the Brush as Art," an exhibit of work by Glenn Grishkoff, runs Aug. 18-Sept. 14 at the Corner Gallery in Boswell Hall at North Idaho College. Artist Receptions: Saturday, Aug. 18, from 4-10 pm and Friday, Sept. 14, from 5-8 pm. The brushmaking workshop (limited to 15 participants) is Saturday, Sept. 15, from 10 am-5 pm. Workshop cost: $45. Call: (208) 667-9346.
The Paper Chase
A lot of us remember PAPIER-MACHE from our kindergarten days... the strips of unwieldy newsprint, that strange paste that seemed to take days to dry and the fragile but bulky nature of our constructions. But a new show at the Chase Gallery in City Hall shows that papier-mache is a fine art form that combines the structural joy of pottery with the light and color of painting. Six papier-mache artists from the Inland Northwest -- Lisa Conger, Melissa Carpenter, Peggy Donovan, Sherri Ballman, Rhea Giffin and Melissa Swann Wagner -- exhibit this month at the Chase, and the variety of their works shows a whole new side of the art form.
Rhea Giffin incorporates lines of text and smooth, seemingly seamless construction in her story bowls and other pieces, which are richly painted and informed by the language of myth, memory, fairy tale and nursery rhyme. At the other end of the spectrum, Sherri Ballman's Stella is a near life-sized figure of a very pregnant young girl in a tie-dye T-shirt, whose elongated lines and rough edges suggest the uncertainty and angst of youth. And some of the constructions are downright fanciful, including Melissa Swann Wagner's Big O and Little Boy, a tall and graceful sculpture of an ostrich with his lesser fowl companion on his back.
The Papier-Mache Artists' Guild Exhibition continues at the Chase Gallery, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd., through Sept. 7. Call: 625-6050.