Traver Gallery is pleased to present Fresh Air, a group exhibition featuring ten artists. Clare Belfrage, Tom DeGroot, Alex Jordanov, Ross Richmond, Jane Rosen, Preston Singletary, April Surgent, Anne Traver, Merrill Wagner, and Jiro Yonezawa, use diverse media, including glass, steel, paint, bamboo, and stone, yet they share a common focus: their artworks reflect, comment on, and commemorate the essential relationship between humans and the environment. In distinct ways, these seven artists create space for quiet contemplation; they remind us to look closely, consider our legacy, and be present; to step back, slow down and take a breath of fresh air.
Inspired by experiences in the natural world for many years now, Clare Belfrage has forged an international reputation for her distinguished work with detailed and complex glass drawing on blown glass forms.
She has maintained a vibrant practice for thirty years. She has been an active part of artists’ communities, particularly in Adelaide and Canberra, including the glass based studio blue pony, of which she is a founding member, the JamFactory Glass Studio in Adelaide and, Canberra Glassworks where she played the pivotal role of Creative Director from 2009 to 2013.
Clare has had a long involvement in education and has lectured in the glass programs at the University of South Australia, SA, and Ohio State University, USA and Curtin University, WA. She is currently an Adjunct Professor at the University of South Australia. She has also taught numerous workshops throughout Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and the United States.
In addition to Australia, Clare regularly exhibits in North America, Europe, Hong Kong, and New Zealand. Her work has been recognized for its innovation and originality and in 2005 and, 2011, she was awarded the Tom Malone Glass Prize by the Art Gallery of Western Australia. In 2016 she was awarded the inaugural FUSE Glass Prize for Australian and New Zealand glass. In 2018 Clare was the South Australian Living Artist Festival feature artist and subject of the festival’s annual monograph, Rhythms of Necessity, written by Kay Lawrence and Sera Waters.
Clare’s work is represented in major public collections including National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Corning Museum of Glass, USA, Museo do Vidro, Marinha Grande, Portugal, Tacoma Museum of Glass, USA, National Art Glass Collection, Wagga Wagga, ArtBank, NSW, Art Gallery of South Australia, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Museum and Art Gallery of Tasmania and Northern Territory Museum.
Tom DeGroot’s paintings prove that humble, utilitarian materials such as wire mesh or corrugated cardboard can transcend themselves to create a bounty of luxurious, meditative patterns and possibilities.
Tom Degroot present “An Edge in the Ocean” a new series of acrylic paintings on Sintra, a plastic based industrial construction material. The works are formed spontaneously by pulling the wet acrylic paint across the smooth plastic surface of the Sintra – the resulting composition has an immediacy and openness about it; it is both direct and strong. DeGroot, a long-time Zen Buddhist, draws a connection between this his newly developed process and that of Sho Do, the art of Zen Calligraphy. In both cases, the painter or the calligrapher, and the brush, ink and paper are engaged in one inseparable activity, and what is left is a record of that harmonious and unconditioned moment.
Mounted on wood panels and then covered in layers of paint, DeGroot’s mesh and cardboard form a structure onto which tinted resin is poured. The paintings take shape as the resin levels and falls into the grooves of the cardboard, creating a luminous sense of depth and richness. Wide, silky smooth surface areas, punctuated periodically by the rippling peaks of the board or the recessed pools of the mesh, create hauntingly beautiful rhythms that move throughout the work.
For the majority of his career, Ross Richmond’s sculptures have focused mainly on the figure, capturing a moment, a gesture, a quiet interaction between people or an individual, and their thoughts. Animals have also played an important role in his work, either being included along with the figurative pieces referencing human’s relationship with the natural world, or more recently the animal as stand-alone pieces highlighting the forms of these natural and elegant creatures.
Ross has been working with glass since 1991, where he took his first glass class while studying to be an illustrator at the Cleveland Institute of Art, graduating with a BFA in Glass in 1994. Ross began working with William Morris in 1997 and worked alongside him until his retirement in 2007. During his career Ross has worked with and for some of the greatest glass and non-glass artists, including William Morris, Jane Rosen, Preston Singletary, and Dale Chihuly, who have all been mentors and inspirations throughout his artistic journey.
Jane Rosen has the unique ability to evoke both enigma and precision with her work. Her chosen subjects–animals wild and tame–are used as vehicles to explore their instincts and natural intelligence. For Rosen, understanding animal nature is a key to understanding human nature. She is fascinated with cultures such as the Eskimos, Native Americans, and Egyptians. Rosen excels across several different mediums including sculpture, painting, and drawing, and traces of all three can be found in each artwork; upon close observation a sculpture has been painted or a drawing has had several layers of wax sculpted onto its surface.
Rosen was born in New York City where she grew up and began her career as an artist. Despite finding early success in galleries and a prestigious teaching position in the city, Rosen found herself captivated by the accessibility of nature on a visit to the West Coast. She eventually relocated permanently to San Gregorio, California, where she keeps her studio and resides on a horse ranch frequently visited by the birds you see in her work.
Rosen was recently selected by the American Academy of Arts and Letters for inclusion in their prestigious 2014 Annual Invitational in New York. Rosen has taught at numerous elite institutions including the School of Visual Arts and Bard College in New York, LaCoste School of the Arts in France, Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley. Rosen’s work has been reviewed in the New York Times, ArtForum, Art in America, and Art News. Her work has been exhibited across the United States and is in numerous public and private collections including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Aspen Art Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the Chevron Corporation, the collection of Grace Borgenicht, JP Morgan Chase Bank, the Luso American Foundation, the Mallin Collection, the Mitsubishi Corporation, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego. She exhibits in galleries around the United States.
Preston Singletary’s art has become synonymous with the relationship between European glass blowing traditions and Northwest Native art. His artwork features themes of transformation, animal spirits, and shamanism through elegant, blown glass forms and mystical sand carved Tlingit designs.
Singletary learned the art of glass blowing by working with artists in the Seattle area including Benjamin Moore and Dante Marioni. As a student and assistant, he initially focused on mastering the techniques of the European tradition. His work took him to Kosta Boda (Sweden) where he studied Scandinavian design and met his future wife. Throughout his 30+ years of glass blowing experience, Preston Singletary has also had opportunities to learn the secrets of the Venetian glass masters by working with Italian legends Lino Tagliapietra, Cecco Ongaro, and Pino Signoretto. In 2010, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Arts degree from the University of Puget Sound. Now recognized internationally, Singletary’s artworks are included in museum collections such as The British Museum (London, UK), The Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, MA), The Seattle Art Museum (Seattle, WA), the Corning Museum of Glass (Corning, NY), the Mint Museum of Art and Design (Charlotte, NC), the Heard Museum (Phoenix, AZ), and the Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC).
Singletary maintains an active schedule by teaching, lecturing and exhibiting internationally. In 2009, the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, WA, launched a major mid-career survey of his work, entitled “Preston Singletary: Echoes, Fire, and Shadows”. In 2018, he launched a new traveling exhibition with the Museum of Glass, titled “Raven and the Box of Daylight“, which pushes the boundaries of glass as a medium for storytelling.
April Surgent started working with glass in 1997, at open access hot shop studios in her hometown of Seattle, WA. She went on to study at the Australian National University, Canberra, Australia where she graduated with honors in 2004. In 2003, she changed her focus from blown to wheel engraved glass after studying under Czech master engraver Jiri Harcuba at the Pilchuck glass school. She has been engraving for 14 years, interested in contemporary approaches to the traditional craft of wheel engraving. Notable recognitions for her work include a 2009 Behnke Foundation Neddy Fellowship and a 2016 USA Ford Fellowship.
Surgent’s interest in applied conservation science led her to Antarctica in 2013, with the National Science Foundation’s, Antarctic Artist and Writers Program. Her research there focused on remote conservation fieldwork and the effects of anthropogenic impacts on vulnerable ecosystems. Currently, she is working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s, Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program continuing that research. She lives and works on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington.
Anne Traver [b. 1952] began work with clay five years ago following a long career as a graphic designer, brand strategist, design firm owner, and design professor. After training in workshops, community studios, and intensive courses in Italy, she now has an individual studio practice in Seattle. Traver describes her interest in “diminishing the functional nature of the pot with a little push towards the forms of nature” and “the remains of ceramic objects as signposts of human history.” In her work, Traver captures the beauty of textured and weathered surfaces and the excavation and erosion of time.
“I make objects that occupy the space between functional pottery and sculpture. I am fascinated by the way that clay in its rigid, fired state is able to reveal its former soft and malleable qualities. Deflation, folds, surface– the effects of gravity, time, and atmosphere tell the object’s history. A minimalist geometry often divides the vessel, creating a horizon by way of contrast.
A modernist simplicity and elegance of form emerging from nature is my aim. Not precious or delicate, the work has a certain heft; a narrow palette of hues — black, white, earth, rust; and an economy of means.” Anne Traver
Wagner works in a wide range of media, including drawing, painting, time-based projects, book works and sculptural interventions. Her work aligns itself with both the principles of Minimalism, and the ethics of an alchemist. She manipulates materials to make works that are about the passing of time and material transformation.
A big departure from her oil on canvas works of the 60’s, the tape works from the 70’s showcase Wagner’s unique process of using tape (cloth, masking, Gaffer’s, Permacel) to transfer oil pastel pigments onto plexiglass. Tiffany Bell explains that “having used tape as an incidental tool in her painting, she became fascinated with it as something to mark on. Her preoccupation with tape led to a consideration of process and the role of chance in the creative procedure. She started applying bands of tape to paper (…) and marking the resulting surfaces all over with chalk. A second layer of tape was then layered on top, removed, and affixed to Plexiglas. Seen from the opposite side, traces of the original drawing were thus incorporated into a new context.”
Wagner is an artist indicative of her time and place. Robert Storr summarizes, “Wagner, materialist, formalist, empiricist, and poet of the given and the accidental as well of the systematically altered is, in this every respect, an all-American artist to the core.”
Jiro Yonezawa has been a bamboo craftsman and artist for almost 40 years. He trained at the Beppu Vocational Arts Training Center in 1981 and spent a year as an apprentice to Masakazu Ono. He continued his training at the Oita Prefectural Beppu Industrial Art Research Institute. In 1989 he moved to the United States and lived and worked there for almost 20 years. While in the US, his work became bolder and larger and he started making sculptural pieces influenced by art he saw there. In 2008 he returned to his hometown in Japan and built a new studio in Saiki City, Oita Prefecture. Since his return he has been active in the Japanese New Art & Craft (Nihon Shinkogei) organization and has received several national awards. He has also shown in Nitten, the annual National Fine Arts Exhibition.
He has had numerous solo exhibitions and has shown in group exhibitions internationally. His work is in many public and private collections such as the Microsoft Corporation in Seattle, the Mint Museum of Art in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Portland Art Museum in Oregon, and the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia. He is one of the bamboo artists selected to participate in an exhibit of Japanese bamboo art at the Musée de quai Branly in Paris this coming November.