City Windows Gallery Shows Glass Art from BAGI
By Erin Goodwin-Guerrero

The new City Windows Gallery on the corner of 4th and Santa Clara, is a part of City Hall Wing. This is a gallery space that shows its contents to the public both day and night through windows that are continuously lit. Announcing San Jose’s determination to be an exemplary green city, and its commitment to the art and talent of local artists, curator Kathryn Funk first presented the work of San Jose artists who recycled materials in their work. In the second exhibition, Funk shows the colorful and beautifully crafted glass works of San Jose’s BAGI.

Jeremy Cline’s blown glass Bird of Paradise, 2002

The Bay Area Glass Institute was founded in 1996. It began in the garage of San Jose State Graduate Student, Bobby Bowes, who along with classmates, Mike Binnard, Mariko Takada, and Jonathan Tepperman, sought a place where glass artists could continue to work outside of the University context. The group blew glass, made glass art, and struggled to raise funds to move to a larger location that would serve as a fully operational glass blowing facility.

Now located on Taylor Street in San Jose, BAGI is an affordable workspace for local glass blowers. It is also a public education facility that elevates the public awareness of glass art processes and cultivates patrons. A variety of glass-working classes are offered and internationally renowned as well as local artists conduct free demonstrations and lectures. BAGI also attempts to offer support for local artists as they develop careers by offering beginner through advanced level classes for individuals that want a hands-on experience.

Fused cane glass creates the watery effects of Tidepool by Tom Upchurch

The City Windows exhibition of Glass Art from BAGI features both extravagant vessels and small sculptural forms in glass. The selection of work shown emphasizes the craft of glassblowing, in all its diversity. There are elegantly understated small works such as Johnathon Schmuck’s white-on-white encalmo process vase, Unconformity. And, in the tradition of elongated tentacles of exquisitely colored Venetian glass, there is Jeremy Cline’s Bird of Paradise.

Janett Peace used both blown and fused glass to create Terrestrial Froth

I was most impressed with the flat, platter-like pieces by Tom Upchurch and Janet Peace. Both have a richness and texture that evoke water and natural geological forms. Mary White shows a sculptural lamppost in the tradition of mixed media glass art with conceptual provocations. Randy Walker’s Yellow Cedar is a gnarly chunk of glass resembling a broken limb in reds and dark browns with streaks of yellow.

Randy Walker’s Yellow Cedar, 2007, blown and sculpted glass.

Always “open”, City Windows Gallery is close to everything including the business of running a major city. The exhibition program is managed by the San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs’ Public Art Program. Plan a visit after your committee meeting at City Hall or, at night, after the theatre or dinner downtown.

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