Saturday, February 16, 2013

Toledo Museum of Art Glass Pavilion

Vitrana, by Dominick Labino
at the Glass Pavilion of the Toledo Museum of Art
      About three weeks ago my family and I played hooky from a half day of school and work, and took a road trip to the Glass Pavilion of the Toledo Museum of Art in Toledo, Ohio.  I had planned this trip as part of my Lilly Teacher Creativity Fellowship activities long ago, and have been anxiously awaiting our visit to this museum within a museum.  
Three people who probably should not set foot anywhere near a museum filled with g l a s s.
I had my reservations about taking the 3 Stooges inside the Glass Pavilion with me, but approaching the doors of the museum gave me my first glimpse of the glass treasures within - the Dale Chihuly blown glass chandelier hanging inside the front door.  I decided I couldn't keep them from enjoying these gorgeous glass masterpieces with me. 
      The Glass Pavilion was built in 2006 to house the Toledo Museum of Art's world-renowned glass collection.  The collection features more than 5,000 works of glass art from ancient to contemporary times. I could barely contain my delight at seeing so many beautiful glass creations.  But most of all, I was breathlessly anticipating the stained glass pieces I would find here. The search begins...
The Glass Pavilion has it's own glass blowing studio, so renowned glass blowing artists are featured prominently in this museum.  The above chandelier, Campiello Remer #2, was produced by Dale Chihuly. Even though it is colorless, it is breathtaking!  Especially when you are used to seeing Chihuly's art only in pictures. 
Close-up detail of Campiello Remer #2 showing the striated textures on each and every
hand-blown piece.
Untitled, by Toots Zynsky
This bowl shape is made entirely of fused glass threads
       As we continue the search for what I'm sure will be an awe-inspiring collection of stained glass (and trying to dodge the overly-protective docent who keeps eyeing my children with suspicious glances), we find several interesting pieces of unique glass art along the way.
One of Hank's very favorite activities at home is to grab a bottle of Windex and "wash" the windows.  Imagine his delight upon eyeing this bedazzled bottle of his favorite window cleaner!
Still Life With Pear, by Flora Mace and Joey Kirkpatrick
I think my grandma used to have a set of this glass fruit on her coffee table.
Nope. Not unless Grandma found her glass fruit at the Jolly Green Giant's garage sale.
Evelynn and Hank resting a moment on a glass bench.
Evelynn: "Sitting on glass feels really strange. What if it breaks? Will I get in trouble?"
Hank: "I don't have a problem with it!"
      By now we've seen some amazing works of glass art.  I was very impressed with how the museum was able to light the glass pieces to richly, especially at night.  There is still so much to see. They must keep the stained glass pieces at the very far end...right?
Prussian Blue and Oxblood Persian Pair, by Dale Chihuly
Sovereign Cloister--Beyond War, by Michael Glancy
Reverse-Painted Mirror Portrait of Elizabeth Graham, Chinese, Quianlong Period
        Amazing glass art from ancient times to modern day...but I still can't seem to locate the stained glass pieces.  After locating the suspicious docent who has been stalking us throughout our tour, I ask for directions to the room where I can see the stained glass.  He points the way, and I am giddy with anticipation...

Until I see this...
A very unflattering view of Francis Chigot's Garden in the Rain.
      I have waited almost a year to visit this museum, to see beautiful, world renowned stained glass.  I am breathless to see what glorious creations are stored in this museum so far from home...and when I finally reach my destination, the glass is unlit.  It is dark, dull, and ever-so disappointing.  I can see my own reflection in the glass better than I can see the glass's design or colors.  And my reflection is horrified, mortified, and overwhelmingly sad.
These are four panels of Louis Comfort Tiffany stained glass designs.  Forgive my out-of-focus photo, I was trying not to sob too openly during this shot.
      We have no choice now, but to leave.  We visit the rest of the Toledo Museum of Art, which has a wonderful selection of relevant artworks, but my heart is just not in it at this point.  I was momentarily cheered when we found a small stained glass window inside the main museum by Frank Lloyd Wright.
Avery Coonley Playhouse Window, 1912, by Frank Lloyd Wright
I saw a matching window from the same playhouse during my visit to the Art Institute of Chicago.
        Will I ever get to see the 5 stained glass pieces I traveled across state lines to visit?  Or is this trip destined to become a sad memory of what "could have been?"  

      Stay tuned for the conclusion of "The Saga of the Unlit Stained Glass."

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