Passage to Portland

The weekend of September 27th found 25 members of GLANC exploring the world of glass in Portland. We quickly discovered that the heart of Portland’s glass community was Bullseye Glass and that its soul was Lani McGregor and Dan Schwoerer, the amazing owners of Bullseye Glass who hosted and arranged an incredible weekend for us. [at right, our hosts, Lani and Dan].

Our trip began Thursday afternoon with a visit to Lani and Dan’s unique home in the Portland hills. Over the years they turned a simple cottage with a magnificent view of Mt. Hood into a 3-story custom designed modernist home dedicated to their exquisite glass collection, which highlights important works by the likes of Jun Kaneko, Klaus Moje, Jessica Loughgin, Judy Elliott, Ted Sawyer, Anna Skipska, April Surgent and the list goes on. Because Lani and Dan believe in living with glass in all its potential forms, they also use their home as a living laboratory for glass technology, testing the safety of glass bricks for outside decking and indoor glass staircase treads. [below, Artists Ted Sawyer, Catharine Newell, Stacy Lynn Smith, April Surgent]

On Friday, our first full day of the trip, we started early with a tour of the Bullseye factory. Started by three hippie glass blowers in 1974, Bullseye has evolved into an enormous industrial plant dedicated to making fused compatible glass for the world market. It employs 127 people, has 18 operating furnaces and makes 20,000 sq. ft. of glass daily. But Bullseye has its “eye” on more than just manufacturing glass, it is also dedicated to promoting glass as an art medium. To that end it sponsors a yearly show called “Working Glass” for its employees which offers $1000 prize to the winner. Biennially, it also has a highly regarded juried art show called “E-merge” solely for glass artists who have not yet had a gallery or museum show. 

We then visited Bullseye’s Research and Education Department (R & E) for a demonstration/talk about the various glass technologies they have developed in-house for artists working on large architectural projects. Over box lunches we listened to presentations by four artists. Michael Endo spoke about “Crossovers in Glass”, Ted Sawyer, Director of R & E at Bullseye, discussed his glass panel work, April Surgent spoke about her photo based glass engraving techniques and Catherine Newell’s discussed her approach to glass. Stacy Lynn Smith explained being an "urban
geologist." Friday afternoon saw us visiting the studio of Abi Spring for a demonstration and later that day we watched Deborah Horrell work and explain her Pate d’Vere technique.  Finally we ended the day with a visit to the magnificent home of Mrs. Arlene Schnitzer, a leading art patron in Portland, to see her wonderful collection of contemporary NW artists both in glass and painting. [at right, Artist Deborah Horrell with partial installation]

Saturday began with a visit to Bullseye Gallery, the art gallery run by Lani and Dan in Portland’s Pearl District  where over a continental breakfast we viewed the work of Heike Brachlow. From there we visited two more galleries and finished the day with a tour of the sensational penthouse condo of art collector, Ivan Gold and a visit to the Portland Museum where we had a docent tour of Tom Fedderson’s work. Tom is a Native American artist who has translated his cultural imagery into contemporary glass panels. After a few hours rest and some dinner many of us returned to the Bullseye gallery to see a production of the highly acclaimed play “Art”. Having that particular play performed in an art gallery certainly enhanced its meaning.

Sunday, our last day, saw us introduced to amazingly beautiful works made with a combination of bamboo, twine and glass. Charissa Brock, a well-known fiber artist and the daughter of glass artist Emily Brock, introduced us to her unique medium of working with bamboo. She spoke about how she developed her interest in bamboo and showed us how to split the canes without injuring oneself. Following in the footsteps of Charissa’s Asian-themed art, the only logical thing to do was to go on a docent tour of the lovely Japanese Gardens in Washington Park. By then it was midday and time to return to downtown Portland to have our concluding brunch at the historic Heathman Hotel. [at right: Charissa Brock demonstrates making glass feathers]

Our jam-packed three days in Portland were wonderful and gave us a great understanding of why Portlanders are so proud of their city. They should also be proud of people like Lani and Dan who have brought a unique artform and industry to their city. All of us who were on the tour extend a special thanks to Lani and Dan for being such gracious hosts.

Read Lani’s Blog entry from October 2, 2012: “Bamboo Sandwich”

GLANC in the garden at the home of Arlene Schnitzer


[Eva Klein]