By Kriston Capps
© Washington City Paper
Thursday, April 27, 2006.
“Compelled by Content II,” the second annual all-glass revue hosted by Fraser Gallery in Bethesda reveals more than it intends to about the potential of glass art.
The exhibit, curated by Catriona Fraser, features several artists hoping to dispel a common assumption about the medium—that glassworks are vessels, first and foremost, and are otherwise hopelessly decorative.
Tim Tate, who is easily the most prolific glass artist in the region, creates bulbs, steles, and heart-shaped vials to defend his art against stereotypes; over time the artist has developed a categorical symbol system, which he uses to populate his works in the form of surface inscriptions or cast figurines and elements, as in Two Paths Taken (pictured). These symbols seemingly make up a glossary of his life.
High marks go to Syl Mathis, whose uncluttered, canoe-shaped totems look back to older, even ancient, artmaking examples.
Alison Sigethy and Robin Cass also use elongated forms and mixed media in their sculptures. These artists seem to ask and answer the right question—how to make good art, not how to make good glass.
While Tate, Mathis, and Sigethy do their part to break the mold, some of the artists in the show are compelled by the same kinds of content, creating yet another stereotype for glassworks — Michael Rogers’ works, for example, are nearly indistinguishable from Tate’s offerings, suggesting that there may be only so many technical innovations that the glassmaking process will allow, and Carmen Lozar’s puerile figurines look as if they could have been made by Walt Disney.
The exhibition is on view from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and by appointment, to Saturday, June 3, at the Fraser Gallery, 7700 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Suite E, Bethesda. Free. (301) 718-9651. (Kriston Capps)
© Copyright 2006 Washington City Paper