Although Pismo Gallery originally began in Denver 14 years ago, it didn’t focus exclusively on art glass until 1995.
Following its success and expansion into Beaver Creek and Aspen, the Vail Village setting became the fourth Pismo gallery in the summer of 2002 – fortunate for the valley.
While the Beaver Creek gallery is the larger of the two sites, and recently hosted a Lino Tagliapietra exhibition, the Vail version is a fine representation of what Pismo has to offer and includes the exquisite work of 50 glass artisans.
The most famous of these is probably Dale Chihuly. His well known and readily recognizable work can be seen at Vail’s Pismo gallery in smaller to medium-size pieces than his usual monumental work. These examples are colorful, combine multiple pieces in exotic shapes, and incorporate fascinating patterns threading through the layers of glass.
An interesting departure for Chihuly and his fans are a few lithographic prints of his paintings. These full color poster size expressions are reminiscent of Jackson Pollack’s drip and spatter canvases, and while Chihuly’s originals were created using watercolors, they illustrate a frenzied activity, high energy, kaleidoscopic art form. The finished prints are then added to by the artist and individually signed.
Perhaps less renowned then Chihuly, but still unique, is Steve Klein. His abstract work is like none I’ve ever seen. “Exploration Marquette” and “Abstract Composition III,” for example, are colorful, fused and blown glass with matte finishes. The layers and undulating shapes of these tabletop objects d’art invite close inspection, resulting in awe and admiration for the obvious skill and vision of the artist.
If your preference runs toward the purity and clarity of Steuben-like glass, then Christopher Ries’ faceted pyramids, such as “Bouquet of Light,” will satisfy the most discerning collector. Be sure to look closely at the examples, for when you move around them, shapes seem to appear and disappear as you circle the prism.
Bordering on the fame of Chihuly, is the previously mentioned Lino Tagliapietra, an artist who in fact has collaborated with Dale. Tagliapietra has long been considered one of the premier glass artists in the world. Born in Murano, Italy, 70 years ago, he started blowing glass at age 12, and took 25 years to become a master. It was time well spent. Chihuly himself refers to Tagliapietra as the “best glass blower in the world.”
A few other personal favorites of mine are David Bennett, whose horse head looks more like sculpture than glass, and George Bucquet, an artist who captures the aquamarine of tropical seas in his carved and cast bowls and platters with shimmering fish.
The intriguing mask-like African heads by Kelly McClain, makes it hard to believe that you are looking at glass. Her “Salomia,” portrays a woman with a blue face and a red flower in a pate de verre-like finish.
Another ubiquitous, highly recognized and popular artist you can see at Pismo is Ulla Darni. Her hand painted chandeliers, sconces and accessories enhance light, and even nature itself with gorgeous floral patterns.
Stew Mosberg works out of Blue River, Colorado. He is the recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, holds a degree in Design from the University of Florida, and is the author of two books on design. He can be reached at WrtrF@aol.com
Location: 122 East Meadow Drive
Hours: Sun-Wed 10a.m.-8p.m., Thurs-Sat 10a.m.-9p.m.