A glass of something bright | VailDaily.com

A glass of something bright

Shauna Farnell

Shane Macomber/Vail Daily Topescu - Sun of Greece Collection

VAIL – Imagine the wave of artistic inspiration that followed the fall of Communism in the former Soviet nations of Eastern Europe. In the world of glass, deep yellows, blues and reds began to emerge in a full dose of vibrant color to coincide with the countries’ newly found freedom.A collection of such color and inspiration is on display at Art Novell, a new gallery in Vail’s Crossroads. The gallery specializes in glass art from Romania and Lithuania. Gallery owner Mirela Van Dyke, who immigrated to the United States from Romania in 1993 and lives in Minnesota, knows all of the artists and handpicks her gallery items directly from their individual studios.

“I know them all personally,” Van Dyke said. “My best friend in Romania was the director of the national museum of art. I grew up knowing some of the artists. When Communism collapsed in Romania, the art had a total rebirth. There were brighter colors and just a feeling that the creative spirit could not be caged; not only in Romania, but in all the former Soviet bloc countries. What used to be glass art before Communism is now completely different. People weren’t allowed to travel in Communist times. Once artists started to travel, they got their inspirations in colors from nature.”Van Dyke started an adoption agency in Romania and started to travel around the country and to Lithuania with her adoption work, through which she placed more than 300 children. It was at this time that she began going to art shows and taking an interest in collecting. All of the artists represented at Art Novel hail from one of two countries.”I can’t create anything personally,” she said. “But I’ve always loved art.”

One featured artist at Art Novell is Ioan Nemtoi from Botosani, Romania. Working with fire and water, Nemtoi said the sand in his region is very fine, which makes for high-quality glass-making. “When working with molten glass, one must think and act very quickly, yet gently,” said Nemtoi in a descriptive blurb on he and his work at Art Novell.”What started as my challenge, today is my art.”The conditions in Romania are very dry, which means glass artists must work much faster molding their pieces after they’re blown. Nemtoi works in glass, china and ceramics and sometimes creates pieces using all three. His style is becoming renown across Europe, and the Vatican even has some of his work.

One of his pieces, a Transylvanian bell made of red glass that is displayed in the window of Art Novell, is Van Dyke’s favorite piece at the gallery.”It’s just striking,” she said of the piece. “Ever since I first saw the Transylvanian bells, I think of where grew up. The shell is just so beautiful. In these pieces, you can really see the serenity of the artist.”A lot of the work at the gallery is collections. The collections feature work of various shapes and function of the same color. Gallery director Lisa Yount’s favorite pieces in the gallery are Mihai Topescu’s “Santa Fe” pieces. Another internationally recognized artist from Romania, Topescu uses a deep red for his “Santa Fe” collection.

“I just like the colors,” Yount said. “I think they work well here in Colorado. I love how he uses a balance of transparency and opaqueness in the glass. They look really beautiful when you put them under direct light.”The prices for work in Art Novell range from $75 for ornate perfume bottles to $9,700 for the larger, multi-element pieces from Nemtoi. Because Van Dyke works with the artists directly, she says the prices are lower than comparable pieces that come through distributors. Van Dyke can arrange for custom-made pieces as well. Customers who have an idea of a glass piece can submit a request.”I’m really trying to introduce the artists to the United States,” Van Dyke said. “They’re willing to do custom work. There’s something for everyone; collectors of glass art as well as someone who’s looking for just a gift.”

Staff Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or sfarnell@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado