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New glass exhibit reflects original perspective

"Toy Wall" by Aya Oki, on display at the Boehm Gallery's "Crystal Method" exhibit through Nov. 6. Hayley Ulle/ The Telescope
“Toy Wall” by Aya Oki, on display at the Boehm Gallery’s “Crystal Method” exhibit through Nov. 6. Hayley Ulle/ The Telescope

Every piece of art in the Boehm Gallery’s new exhibit has a mutual connection that is fragile in every sense of the word: glass.

“Crystal Method” exposes the community to a variety of three-dimensional glass work from 12 local artists.

Michelle Hauswirth, a staff member at the gallery, said she had the privilege of preparing the lighting and several pieces of artwork for the exhibit.

“As soon as all the packing (material) goes away, then it’s just like, ‘Oh my gosh, everything is so pretty!’” Hauswirth said.

Featured artists include Susan Stinsmuehlen-Amend, Nate Cotterman, Einar and Jamex de la Torre, Nate Dubbs, Katherine Gray, Jessica McCambly, Aya Oki, Dylan Palmer, Timothy Ringsmuth, Aimee Sones and Hiromi Takizawa. All of the artists produce their work in Southern California, from San Diego to north of Los Angeles.

At the exhibit opening on Oct. 9, Michael Hernandez, curator of the gallery, said he was satisfied with the size of the crowd. Artists Stinsmuehlen-Amend, Takizawa and Palmer participated in a gallery talk about their work.

The panel provided some insight into their backgrounds, inspirations and experiences working with glass.

Artist Takizawa grew up in a small town in Japan that had several glass studios. She said she had never considered working with glass herself until she visited a glass-blowing studio at an American community college in her early 20s. She said she decided to take a class, and immediately fell in love with the material.

“I like working with glass because (of) the transparency … translucency, and also the optics that (it) creates. And also when the light hits it … (it) reflects and refracts the light,” Takizawa said.

Hernandez said that these artists were selected to show their work because they demonstrated “diversity of type of work and approach to glass.”

The featured art is diverse indeed. Upon entering the gallery, a shallow bowl of turquoise glass holds a miniature plastic boat and quietly gurgles as soap bubbles emerge from the bowl. On the other side of the room, a large panel with pictures of food that appear to move serves as a background for a colorful mask created from blown glass and aluminum.

Stinsmuehlen-Amend said that the art on display demonstrates “a lot of combinations of techniques … which is one of the reasons this show looks so good.”

Stinsmuehlen-Amend’s glass paintings stand out against the white walls of the gallery with their playful use of colored imagery. During the gallery talk, she explained how she used kiln-fired glass powder paint, which is similar to the paint used for stained glass, to create her paintings. She also incorporates mirrors, wood and metal into her designs.

Additionally, she described how fellow artist Aimee Sones used a combination of silk screens and kiln-fired painted glass in her work. Other notable materials used in the exhibit include soap, hair, car rims, plexiglass and silver-coated glass.

The exhibit lends itself well to individuality and versatility. It offers visitors a fresh perspective on an otherwise ordinary material. And, since the pieces are related through their use of glass as a common medium, artists have the freedom to address a wide range of subject matter, the artists said.

“For me, a lot of my work is really intuitive, really formal,” Palmer said.

He added that he likes to combine objects to create something new.

Stinsmuehlen-Amend expressed a similar sentiment, noting how she blends narration and imagery with concepts of nature and humankind “so it makes some new kind of sense, some kind of poetry.”

The gallery space was thoughtfully utilized in the presentation of the glass work as well. Instead of simply presenting all of the art at eye level, pieces were displayed on the wall, on the floor, and on podiums of different heights. The varying display levels allowed visitors to view the art from unusual angles, attendees said.

Palomar art student Julie Shelton, 35, said she liked how the space did not feel “overcrowded” with artwork.

“You can actually focus on one piece at a time,” she said.

Shelton, who has visited the gallery once before, followed her art teacher to the exhibit. She said she felt inspired by the art on display and would definitely return to see it again.

“It’s gorgeous. I love glass work and I have been hoping to take the glass-blowing class for a while now … so this is something I would love to do in the future.”

The exhibit is open through Nov. 6 during the gallery’s regular hours. Admission is free. For more information, call (760) 744-1150 ext. 2304.

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