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GLANC Tour of Scottsdale - October 21-24, 2010

The GLANC tour to Scottsdale, October 21-24, 2010, was a feast of art, cuisine, and friendship. Upon arrival, 24 travelers gathered and made our way to the main street of Old Town Scottsdale, abundant with galleries and restaurants. We visited several galleries that focused on glass. Carole Perry, our wonderful on-ground coordinator, artist and Arizona Glass Alliance member, demonstrated her building process to create richly textured and nuanced stringer “blanket” sculptures at Duley-Jones Gallery. The evening ended with a feast at a nearby Thai restaurant. [at right, David Bennett speaking to GLANC members]

We started Friday with a visit to Agnese Udinotti and the Agnese Udinotti Museum of Figurative Art. Set on several acres, this complex houses her private studio, guest house for visiting artists and impressive private museum dedicated to showcasing emerging and mid-career Arizona artists working figuratively. The architecture of the buildings was stunning southwest contemporary. Holding her miniature poodle as she shared her thoughts and spaces with us, Agnese explained her commitment to figurative work both as an artist and gallerist in the face of the abstract movement that dominated painting for several decades. She explained that she designed her windowless, white cube studio in order to focus on her work, while the connecting guest house has sweeping views of the desert. The museum itself was built below ground level, a cement and core-10 steel cube half buried in the earth so as not to obscure the guest house views. She has a stunning collection of figurative work from ancient Greece, Asia, and tribal Africa permanently on view.

We next visited artist Susan Silver Brown in her Frank Lloyd Wright home filled with monumental Oceanic art, which she acquired in her previous career as an art historian focusing on Oceania and Africa. These powerful pieces also influence her beautiful “mystical surreal” cast glass works. Though her casting studio is off-site, we were fortunate to see a large body of work which that afternoon was to be packed for transport to SOFA Chicago.

Our itinerary then took us to the Phoenix Art Museum. In 2006, a 40,000 square foot contemporary art wing was added to the museum that houses a cutting-edge collection of installation art. We toured computer-generated digital installations, multi-media spaces, and glowing colored voids. The line between “reality” and “virtual” disappeared and it became clear that Phoenix is committed to the future of art.

Preston Singletary flew in from Seattle to provide the highlight of the day and the tour. He led us through his major retrospective at the Heard Museum. The meticulously executed glass pieces ranged fromn his iconic Raven Stealing the Sun to full size facades for traditional Tlingit buildings. Each work represents a story from his Tlingit tribe, reinterpreting traditional art in a contemporary medium. He charmed us with his stories of first blowing glass as a teen with best friend Dante Marioni at the Glass Eye Studio, one of the earliest commercial hot shops, then working for master artist Ben Moore and assisting Therman Statom and Lino Tagliapetra at Pilchuck. He currently works with other indigenous artists from around the world to interpret their tribal stories. In the evening Preston, GLANC and the Arizona Glass Alliance feasted at the University Club across from the Heard. [above left, Preston Singletary addressing GLANC and AZ Glass Alliance; at right, Raven Stealing the Sun]

Saturday was “collectors day”. Our first stop, at the home of David and Sara Lieberman, was a wealth of contemporary baskets and ceramics, 70 of which had just returned from a 3 year national traveling show. What struck us, in addition to the beauty of the work, was Sara’s impressive knowledge of each artist and work collected.

The next 4 collections were glass. Fred and Sharon Schomer’s extensive collection included large, fabulous works by Karen LaMonte, Vladimira Klumpar, April Surgent, Therman Statom and Rick Beck, among others. They had graciously labeled all the work so we could each tour the collection at our own pace, but also told engaging stories regarding the various pieces. Ted and Melissa Lagreid had a smaller collection of choice pieces including some by Preston Singletary, Tammy Garcia and Laura Donefer. They see their collection as an opportunity to broaden their selected artists’ exposure and have developed a personal relationship with each artist represented.

Leigh and Beryl Sherman designed their home to hold their collections of painting, glass and wood, including Leigh’s own turned bowls. From a Bertil Vallien Head to a Tessa Clegg Box Vessel, work by Brent Kee Young, Ivana Sramkova, Therman Statom and more, all were carefully displayed to showcase their extraordinary beauty. They also had an impressive collection of American handcrafted furniture, and they had placed their fossil collection in the poured concrete floors. Jeffrey and Allison Glosser’s eclectic collection of glass, painting, porcelain, and wood reflects their exuberant personalities. They collected several artists in some depth, including Therman Statom, and Jay Musler, but also proudly displayed a piece by Ted Lagreid. Their Scottsdale home also included collections of wood – 3 generations of the wood-turning Mouthrop family were represented – as well as paintings, and 19th century German porcelain plates. All of the homes included metal figurative sculptures by Agnese Udinotti. [above left, Sara Lieberman speaking to GLANC members]

We watched the sunset over wine and hors d’oeuvres at the winter home of David and Karen Bennett. A successful lawyer, David became enthralled by the glass process in the early ‘90s. He took lessons at a private glass studio, at Pilchuck, and spent four months observing glass masters in Italy. In 1996, following his personal philosophy to “take bold steps” he left the legal profession and committed himself to glass full time. His glass and wire acrobats are now expanding to installations with multiple figures who interact with trust, strength, and grace.

Sunday morning Wayne and Martha Ecton welcomed us to their condo. They unabashedly announced that they subscribe to “the cult of the beautiful” with really lovely works by a wide range of artists, including Mark Abildgaard, Tom Philabaum, and Bertil Vallien, as well as a large collection of premier paperweights. Our final glass stop was at the Tempe Art Center, where we were given a pre-opening tour of their 3rd Glass Biennial. Arizona artists either working in glass or inspired by glass had submitted a wide range of work covering the spectrum of techniques and subject matter. The center also has a children’s theater and hosts corporate and private events, all contributing to gallery attendance. [at right, GLANC members visit Fred and Sharon Schomer's collection]

The farewell lunch was at Hotel Theodore, an art hotel with quirky spaces, major art installations and delicious food. Our 72 hours in Scottsdale was a whirlwind. We made new friends, experienced the unique Scottsdale culture, and saw a wonderful range of art, all in a perfect desert setting.

[Susan Longini]