Legendary glass blower comes to Chico

Projectile flames, 1,000-degree ovens and sharp objects sound like the tools of a Spanish Inquisition tormenter, but all were put to peaceful use early last week when Marvin Lipofsky, a world-renowned artist, came to Chico State's glass-blowing lab.

Three generations of glass blowers gathered to swap stories and create art.

Lipofsky tells them to create creatively and to always innovate.

"Everything you've been taught -- undo," he said.

Lipofsky came to Chico State at the invitation of his former student and the head of Chico's art glass program, Robert Herhusky, to work with the newest crop of glass artists.

Herhusky said he had first seen Lipofsky work when he was 10 years old and later studied under him.

"When I was a student of Marvin's, there were a lot fewer people working with glass. Marvin would have known every serious artist who was making things with glass then," Herhusky said. "All the big-name guys in the industry; Marvin has known them all."

Herhusky said that Lipofsky's fastidious nature is partly responsible for his success, but theirs is not an art form of stringent rules and precise lines.

"I like to work with controlled accidents," Lipofsky said. "I don't want everything nice and straight and even."

Lipofsky was one of the first students of Harvey Littleton, the founder of the studio glass movement in America.

He received his graduate degree in ceramic sculpture, but when the opportunity to create a glass program at University of California, Berkeley arose, he snapped it up.

"Being in California allowed me more freedom than I would have had on the East Coast or in the Midwest," he said.

His location also put him in the middle of a social revolution, Herhusky said.

"When the National Guard was called out to Berkeley, Marvin was on campus," Herhusky said. "He was really in the thick of it."

Then invitations from all over the world began to come in. Lipofsky would go to the factories in other countries and create his convoluted globular balls of color. He would then take the glass back to Berkeley to cut, grind, polish and sandblast it.

"I try to make them interesting, to make them more than they are," he said. "It's rather meditative."

It is also lucrative.

He said, somewhat bashfully, his work sells in galleries for between $8,000 and $40,000, and that he only sees a fraction of the sale price.

Lipofsky's art is a three-dimensional scrapbook. Each piece is named after the exotic place it was created and mirrors a hue or feeling from that place.

"They have this kind of fluidity of form," Herhusky said. "He likes to record some of the natural color and environment."

He said he is not fluent in any foreign languages but remembers in colors: the white of the female factory workers' hats in China and the blue of the glass blowers' uniform tank tops in Yugoslavia. He remembers communism through red glass.

According to the catalog that accompanied one of his recent exhibitions, he has worked in more than 24 factories, 15 schools and six studios in different countries during the last 30 years.

"The only thing I regret about not speaking the languages is that you don't get all the jokes," Lipofsky said.

600450 Legendary glass blower comes to Chico glassonweb.com
Date: 16 April 2004
Source: Orion-online.net

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