After an intense time at Corning, Michael Rogers took me to stay at his home near Rochester in New York State. Michael’s studio is an amazing Aladdin’s cave of inspirations and it was a real privilege to be there. Michael’s wife, Bette, is a textile artist and I loved spending time with her in her den of colour.
Michael also introduced me to the high culture of New York State in the antiques malls of the area. Here I found much inspiration for a project I am developing about heritage and nostalgia – perfect!
From Rochester I headed to New York, where my old college buddy, Alun Williams now runs a gallery in Brooklyn called Parker’s Box.
Alun and his wife, Claire Lesteven, a photographer, kindly offered me accomodation in the artists studio at Parker’s Box and introduced me to a number of artists including Claire Lieberman, an artist who works in glass. Claire showed me around her studio in South Brooklyn and talked to me about her work.
While I was in New York I visited Joseph Cavalieri, a very inspirational and generous person who treated me to a tour of his Manhattan flat and studio before taking out to dinner at a local restaurant, His work is truly amazing and I sincerely hope we can encourage him to come to Wales before too long.
I also visited the studio of Mary Clerkin Higgins who was the programme manager for the Florida Conference. Mary’s studio is at the north end of Brooklyn and she undertakes major restoration projects, often for American Universities which have impressive collections of historic european stained glass. While I was there her and her team were working on a 13th Century panel from Canterbury Cathedral and a 15th Century and some 16th Century panels from The Netherlands and Germany as well as aTiffany panel. It was fascinating to see the panels dismantelled on the bench and to begin to understand how they were put together.
Another person I met at the Florida conference was Drew Anderson, glass conservator at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Drew kindy took me on a tour of the bowels of the Met, showing me all the art work which was under restoration. It was fascinating, terrifying and intriguing all at the same time, to be so close to ancient and modern treasures which you normally only see through a glass case.
I went to see an exhibition of fabulous glass paintings by Judith Schaechter at Clare Oliver Gallery. These works entitled ‘The Battle of Carnival and Lent’, were produced for an installation at Eastern State Penitentiary. They are an excruciating celebration of the human spirit and are truly remarkable examples of contemporary glass painting.
Following on from this show I investigated some of the commercial galleries in the area and came across a fabulous show by Tracie Emin.
I also paid a visit to Jane Bruce who was the facilitator of the international symposium I attended last year in Caithness. It was lovely to see a tiny painting I gave her next to a photo of my collaboration with Emma Woffenden in her apartment! It was lovely to catch up with each other and talk about our ideas over supper in a Manhattan restaurant.
In New York I spent half a day at the Museum of Modern Art. I was especially interested in the Robert Rauschenberg pieces there and collages by Ellsworth Kelly. I also enjoyed visiting the children’s zone for ideas and inspirations about how to involve children in museum collections.
Finally I went out to New Jersey to visit an inspirational project called Glass Roots which works with disaffected young people in the area and uses glass as a means of enabling them to transform their lives. Glass Roots is a charity which runs workshops and internship programmes to help young people to develop creatively, start their own businesses or go on to further education. It was a pleasure to meet some of the youngsters who have benefitted from their schemes.
All in all, my visit to the States was a very intense and hectic 3 weeks. It was a fabulous introduction to the country and to the art scene on the East Coast and I have formed friendships and bonds which I am sure will bear fruit in future collaborations and projects. I will be giving a talk about my trip, if you are interested in attending please let me know.