This Weekend Only: Glass Art Fair at Ringling College

Arts & Culture

Pictured: A Multicultural Celebration by Philip Baldwin and Monica Guggisberg. Photo by A. Ramsay.

The annual Glass Coast Weekend returns to Sarasota this weekend, as Ringling College of Art and Design and Detroit-based Habatat Galleries team up once again to celebrate the vibrant and surprisingly versatile medium with a whole regimen of dinners and docent tours, artist talks and activities, sprawling across two cities and at least four museums. But even for those not on the RSVP list, it means a weekend of glass art opportunities open to the public, including a four-day Glass Art Fair featuring more than 300 pieces of glass art from around the world and 20 visiting artists. “We’re looking at the pinnacle of glass art from around the world today,” says Aaron Schey, co-owner of Habatat Galleries. “Just walk through the doors and it’ll change your life.”

Housed in one of the Ringling College soundstages, the Glass Art Fair transforms that filmmaking space into a storytelling device of a different sort, as multiple exhibitions within the fair help tell the tale of a medium both classic and celebrated, as well as modern and innovative. This includes an exhibition of work by acclaimed glassworking duo Philip Baldwin and Monica Guggisberg, as well as four themed exhibitions featuring a variety of artists and selected historic works from Habatat’s yearly glass auction. “It’s so much more than sculpture on a pedestal,” Schey says. “It’s something you have to see in person. Walk around it. Watch the light refract. See the artist’s intentions.”

Optical Allusions celebrates artists working in clear glass, coaxing the maximum from some of its most fundamental qualities of refraction and reflection, while Fluid Forms highlights practitioners working in the abstract, emphasizing shape and flow, and Crystal Forest embraces the whimsical and representational with glass art inspired by nature. The fourth and final thematic exhibition, Beyond the Material, takes a look at one of the latest trends in glass art, with younger artists exploring glass as just one material in their mixed-media work. Artists featured in the fair include German artist Wilfried Grootens, who builds intricate interiors within layered panels, creating images both geometric and organic that shift as the viewer moves, as well as the famous Dutch artist Peter Bremers, whose large-scale cast glass is inspired by his global travels, and Raven Skyriver, a Seattle-based glass artist trained under a student of Dale Chihuly and known for marine sculptures of sharks, whales and more.

“These incredible artists have given their entire lives to creating these sculptures and it’s a very personal thing they share with the world,” says Schey. “We’re honored to show them.”

As if that weren’t enough art of the most breakable kind, in addition to the Glass Art Fair in the soundstage, Ringling College is also currently hosting a pair of exhibitions dedicated to the Richard and Barbara Basch Collection. At the Sarasota Art Museum, Contemporary/Traditional: Selection from the Basch Glass Collection features more than 40 works from masters around the world, including Dale Chihuly and Lino Tagliapietra, putting a range of techniques on display. Meanwhile, in the Basch Gallery on campus, Che Colore! celebrates all the ways that artists infuse and enhance color in their work.

The Glass Art Fair runs through Sunday at Ringling College. Contemporary/Traditional will be on display at the Sarasota Art Museum through February 11, and Che Colore! through March 22.

Pictured: A Multicultural Celebration by Philip Baldwin and Monica Guggisberg. Photo by A. Ramsay.

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