Without Putting Too Fine a Point On It…
WOW, Really? Why, Thank you,
Yes, It Was, Wasn’t it?
…and It Was All Because of You !
But Wait… There’s More –

That’s all by way of saying we have been delightfully pleased and taken aback by your responses to Celebrate the Paperweight 2018, both during and after the event.

To begin with, you took our suggestions and many of you made a full vacation week of it, from several glass lovers attending the Chicago Symphony on Thursday evening to Peter and Cheryl Swiadon dashing up to the newly opened Halim Museum of Time and Glass in Evanston.  Joan Parsley, Carl Carter and many others attended the “Sargent and Chicago’s Gilded Age” exhibition as our guests. If memory serves, Mike and Terri Taylor and another couple enjoyed “Hamilton” and many of you sought out the nearby Pritzker Museum. At least two of you planned to go see the newly installed titanosaur at the Field Museum.

But much of what made the week special was simply you all being together.  Gulsari Byrkit, for one, was so very happy to put faces to names and voices she’s otherwise come to know well.  Many of you stopped by Thursday night to hang out with us, have a bite and some champagne, and also to examine the entire offering for the upcoming Auction 70 in person (initial bidding begins October 15th).  Others immediately took advantage of the 15% discount coupon for attendees, good for existing gallery–owned holdings. The coupons were part of our gift bags for collectors, although the most excitement was for the paperweight umbrellas, and also the mystery sulphides (believe it!).  We also received compliments for the warm feel of the gallery, and thank you for that.

Damon MacNaught & Andrew Najarian (Photo courtesy of ArtReach Chicago)

Mayauel Ward (Photo courtesy of ArtReach Chicago)

Friday morning was not only the real beginning of our little festival, it set the tone for the rest of the weekend.  The demonstration we arranged was received enthusiastically and thoughtfully by all the attendees. Over forty of you watched David Graeber, Gordon Smith, Mayauel Ward, Damon MacNaught and Andy Najarian as they all engaged with the artist/activist Pearl Dick and her team Project Fire.  The aspirational young glassmakers from troubled areas in Chicago were enthused to learn from our artists and also show them a little something of what they could do. Boundaries were crossed, assumptions dropped and connections were made. There was even an impromptu concert by Dantrell, one of the trainees playing to the packed house, that competed with the passing elevated trains and the sounds of the glasswork and the street outside.  An immersive experience indeed. In the rear of the huge studio, Dave and Gordon had a highly focused audience as they flame-worked with finely detailed glass insects. Up front Damon and Andy amazed us all by the speed and ease with which they were able to stretch a beautiful length of blue and white glass and nimbly position it on small cross supports. It seemed that almost immediately they were able to handle the strand, cutting it and handing out samples.

Bee, by Dave Graeber

Mayauel, meanwhile was wrestling with a gorgeously glowing gather of glass / vase-to-be, with a brand new Graeber hummingbird encased within. We will be launching an auction modeled after the Hurricane Harvey auction (i.e. on Facebook for logistical reasons) to sell that as well as another lovely vase that Damon and Andy created. Gordon made a splendid little dragonfly that raised $250 in silent auction (thank you Terri) and Dave also made a special bee that he gifted to Project Fire.  Pearl’s team went to work after our boys were through and wound up creating a sublime piece – a woman’s head of clear glass festooned with perfectly spaced roses for her hair. Yes, you guessed it – Rosann Milius took ownership of that work before it left the pontil…never get between Rosann and a beautiful glass rose.

Project Fire Team (Photo courtesy of ArtReach Chicago)

Pearl Dick & Project Fire Team (Photo courtesy of ArtReach Chicago)

But the real accomplishment here was the feeling you all reported.  We’ve heard from so many of you that it was the spirits and attitudes of these young men (young ladies are coming into the program as well) that left you feeling and knowing that we had all been part of something meaningful – something out of the ordinary.  Art elevated and given even more meaning and purpose. Many of you had rewarding conversations with the students and even supported the cause by purchasing art works, both on Friday and also the next morning at the Artists’ Fair, where the Project Fire had its own table, manned by Pearl, Divontae and Dantrell.  

Members of Project Fire

Friday evening we had dinner at the Columbia Yacht Club, and we had two speakers.  Kathryn Sharbaugh of the Flint Museum spoke to the upcoming PCA convention in Dearborn (with a day trip to Flint) and enticed the attendees with descriptions of not only the two concurrent paperweight exhibitions that will be on display—but also of the newly unveiled “Glass Glass” collection.  She also spoke briefly to the larger mission occupying the museum and its personnel under the leadership of John Henry – that of taking what the art the museum has and presenting it in ways that address the specific needs of the community that has been so challenged by the water crisis. She has been helping design programs and other forms of outreach designed to connect with brains specifically damaged by lead.  (Ask her about Dolly Parton’s book program.)

Kathryn Sharbaugh of the Flint, collector Peter Swiadon, and Brad Stolbach of the University of Chicago

Lead of a different kind as in the form of a bullet, has been a present danger (along with lives filled with incredible challenges) for many of the young people of Project Fire.  Pearl along with her mentor, Brad Stolbach of the University of Chicago and Director of “Healing Hurt People-Chicago” spoke movingly of the efforts involved and the progress being made by ArtReach Chicago/Project Fire.  (A big thank you goes to Art Reach Director of Development Marine Tempels.)

We know this is running long but there was so much in such a short time in terms of meaningful experiences.  Not to leave the artists out— They outdid themselves with the beauty of the designs they brought for the Saturday morning Artists’ Fair.  The dance hall space was perfect for the occasion (thank you to the Johne Parsley legacy project for the sumptuous bouquet that anchored the center of the room) and seemed to meet everyone’s needs.  Ken Rosenfeld, Cathy Richardson and Melissa Ayotte all arrived after the demonstration but we were happy to have them for the Fair. Mike Hunter and Clinton Smith had new designs shown in absentia. (Thank you Nancy Alfano and Joan Parsley.)  And wow, this time around we received endless compliments on how good the midday sandwiches were – thank you Debbie Clark!

The Artists’ Fair

Ken Rosenfeld at the Artists’ Fair

Damon & Andrew at the Artists’ Fair

That evening we all convened at the historic Walnut Room in the Macy’s building for a closing dinner.  Everyone enjoyed having their choice of several different entrees, but all seemed to delight in the trademark Frango Mint ice cream pie dessert.  We could go on and on here, but you do have lives to get back to…

A special thank you to Larry and Marti Selman who joined us (on the eve of our golden anniversary) for the weekend and were even seen dipping an antique Clichy into water in the gallery to explain the refractive properties of glass.  Like we said, an immersive experience!

Ben Clark with Marti & Larry Selman

In closing we were going to thank you all, but you thanked us first.  Humbling. All we did was connect. So, you’re welcome and thank you back!  The Selman Gallery is looking forward to continuing a relationship with Pearl Dick and Project Fire, as well as with Kathryn Sharbaugh and John Henry at the Flint Institute of Arts.  We hope you made some new friends – we know you loved seeing old ones!

The Selman Team
Ben, Penelope, Marty, Paul and Molly…and DJ.

The Biennial “Celebrate the Paperweight” is Back. Plan Accordingly!

Late September Chicago is the place to be for lovers and especially lovers of fine glass paperweights! Two years ago we had to put the Selman biennial on hold in order to assist the Chicago Art Institute in the sale by auction of close to 400 duplicative weights from the Arthur Rubloff Collection and other holdings. After that smashing success for a good cause, we can now return to tradition!

Come to town by the 27th of September to settle in and stop by to have a toast at the gallery with us from 3-7pm.

Gordon Smith & David Graeber

Gordon Smith & David Graeber

Friday the 28th, We’ll be offering transportation to an all-star glassmaking demonstration at the Project Fire Studio with David Graeber, Andy Najarian, Gordon Smith and Damon MacNaught. The bus will begin boarding at 10:30am from the Congress Hotel, to arrive in time for the 11am-2pm demonstrations. Heading the Project Fire Studio is Pearl Dick, an accomplished glass artist, teacher and social activist who has engineered this operation to give at-risk youth an opportunity to create something meaningful, learn teamwork and develop technical skills that may provide a path to employment. Light lunches will be provided by the gallery. After the event you can come back to the gallery, have a beverage and examine first-hand the paperweights to be offered in the fall auction as they’ll be freshly filling the display cases.

Friday, beginning between 5:30-6pm and going until we’re thrown out, we’ll all converge at the Columbia Yacht Club aboard MV Abegweit, one of the great ships (retired) of the Great Lakes. Enjoy gorgeous views of the lake and the city skyline as the sun settles behind the panorama of “skyscrapers” in the city that gave birth to the word. Take in the Lake air with drinks in hand. Among the speakers will be the aforementioned Pearl Dick. We will also hear from Kathryn Sharbaugh, the Flint Museum curator of the “Small Worlds” Paperweight exhibition, which is running through the PCA conference next April in Dearborn. She also authored the recent and very attractive volume Paperweights: Highlights from the Flint Institute of Arts Collection. This evening will also feature gift bags, a raffle and an auction to benefit the Paperweight Foundation. In addition a portion of the ticket proceeds will be donated to them as well.

View from the Columbia Yacht Club

View from the Columbia Yacht Club

Saturday the 29th at the Fine Arts Building we’ll host the Artist Fair at 10am in a beautiful dance hall with floor to ceiling views of Grant Park. You’ll be seeing many new designs offered by many of the finest glass artists in the field. The fair will run from 10am to 3pm.

Later on Saturday we’ll get back together for dinner and a celebratory send-off at the Walnut Room for our closing dinner (6pm). “The world famous Walnut Room was the first restaurant ever opened in a department store. With Circassian paneling imported from Russia and Austrian chandeliers, the 17,000 square foot dining room is both elegant and comfortable.”

The historic Walnut Room

The historic Walnut Room

And for those of you returning home on Sunday, please feel free to stop by in the morning for a goodbye mimosa!

Please refer to the links provided and make your hotel reservations soon. We suggest you make the Celebrate the Paperweight the core of a vacation experience that may include the Art Expo, the new Halim Museum, the Art Institute’s John Singer Sargent exhibition, the play, HAMILTON, the famous Randolph Street Art Fair, and so many other attractions listed on our GUIDE to the weekend’s events.

To purchase a ticket for the event, click here.

To book your stay with the group rate at the Congress Hotel, click here. (more hotels available for recommendation)

Macintosh HD:Users:benclark:Desktop:Blog image.jpg

This page serves as a landing page for quick links for tickets/hotel and schedule information. For more detailed descriptions of each event and location, click here.

To purchase a ticket for the event, click here.

To book your stay with the group rate at the Congress Hotel, click here. (more hotels available for recommendation)

If you have any questions about the schedule or experience any trouble with the links for tickets and hotel, please call us in the gallery at 312-583-1177 or email us at info@paperweight.com and we can assist as needed.

Schedule of Events

Thursday, September 27th

Welcome Reception at the L.H. Selman Gallery from 3-7pm. Those arriving on Thursday are welcome to join us for libations & cheer.

Friday, September 28th

Demonstrations at Pearl Dick’s Project Fire from 11am-2pm. Participating artists include David Graeber, Gordon Smith, Andrew Najarian & Damon MacNaught. Transportation will be provided between the Congress Hotel and Project Fire, the bus will begin boarding at 10:30am. Light lunch provided.

Dinner at the Columbia Yacht Club, beginning between 5:30-6. With breathtaking lakeside views, the evening will include dinner, drinks, musical entertainment, speakers, gift bags, a benefit auction & raffle.

Saturday, September 29th

Artists’ Fair in the Fine Arts Building, 10am-3pm. An informal get-together, with light food and refreshments.

Dinner and a celebratory send-off at the historic Walnut Room at 6pm!

Sunday, September 30th

Morning Mimosas at the gallery.

Wondering why you should book your hotel now? We’ve made a GUIDE to some of the other exciting events taking place the same weekend in Chicago.

For a digital map featuring location highlights, click here. (We will continue to add to this map, so check back).

“Spring Ahead” never had so many meanings around here. We’re now open seven days a week! In addition to setting clocks, we find ourselves balancing creating the next auction catalogue with executing multiple upcoming events and activities, a couple of which are actually just behind us.

In the third week of March, as the dust was just settling on Auction 68, Ben hit the road to attend the Oklahoma PCA meeting in Tulsa where he teamed up with Damon MacNaught to man the Selman booth. They enjoyed a rousing response to Damon’s newly offered weights–each of course created in an edition of 1/1. (Remember that the next time you hesitate!) We still have a select group, by the way…

Additionally, we attended the April 7th meeting of the Midwest Paperweight Collectors in Long Grove, Illinois where we filled in members on our gallery’s plans and events, some of which are covered below. Brand new president Joan Parsley opened the proceedings. Nancy Alfano hosted an identification clinic with Lynn Harper turning up with some very elusive items. Keith Lange displayed some weights with very elaborate doorknob bases. And it was good to see Bruce and Kathryn Giangiorgi and the rest, but we’ll leave it off there since the MPC has its own newsletter!

Next, we’re traveling to Michigan’s Flint Institute of Arts, combining forces with Joan Parsley, to record interviews with the Director of Development Kathryn Sharbaugh, and other museum personnel, about the museum’s increasing involvement with paperweights. The FIA has just published Paperweights: Highlights from the Flint Institute of Arts Collection to accompany “Small Worlds,” a beautiful overview of the art of the paperweight, drawn in large part from their recently enhanced permanent collection and supplemented by loans from well-known contemporary artists. Auspiciously, the museum’s first paperweight was a gift from studio glass pioneer Dominick Labino.

Meanwhile, Ben is finalizing plans for the Selman booth at the Wheaton Paperweight Fest 2018. Along the way to New Jersey, we’ll be delivering the marvelous millefiori table collaboration that Damon MacNaught initiated and helmed, which brought spirited bidding as Lot 120 in Auction 68. At Wheaton, stop in and say hello to Mike and Sue Hunter, who will be assisting us in our booth and answering any questions you may have about their works. Nearby on Thursday at noon, MPC president Joan Parsley will be hosting a memorial melt of some of her father’s weights in the hot glass shop. The MPC itself will be hosting a Meet & Greet that day. And while examining the paperweights in our booth and talking with us and the Hunters, be sure to pick up a reminder about the biennial “Celebrate the Paperweight” festival in Chicago!

Speaking of “Celebrate the Paperweight”…

In Chicago at our beloved and landmarked Fine Arts Building—this year, in addition to the guest artists (final roster to be announced) and other planned activities (sadly, the potato sack race has been cancelled, although both the taffy pull and apple bobbing are still scheduled) we are reaching out to explore something new. Two local organizations have caught our attention. ART Reach (with the helpful Director of Development, Marie Tempels) and Healing Hurt People Chicago (Dr. Bradley Stolbach) have joined forces to sponsor the program, Project Fire. Project Fire is helmed by Pearl Dick, a respected glass artist. All of these people bring together extremely at-risk youth with the opportunity for education and training in the glass arts, including (you guessed it) paperweights! We look forward to highlighting their efforts and possibly even working with them during the September weekend event. And yes, there will be an evening at the Columbia Yacht Club! Stay tuned!

We were about to say be sure to check your calendars for both The Paperweight Fest as well as the “Celebrate the Paperweight” BUT you don’t have to, do you – because it’s already clearly marked on your current Selman calendars. Remember to send us interesting and pertinent dates in the world of glass and glass paperweights to include in next year’s L.H. Selman Fiftieth Anniversary Calendar!

Alison Ruzsa

Alison Ruzsa

“graceful gestures in glass…”


L.H. Selman Ltd. is extremely pleased to announce the upcoming appearance and studio demonstration of a unique voice in the world of art glass today.

Alison Ruzsa, the artist, who lives in New York, will be in Chicago on September 22nd and 23rd. Please join us for a reception, exhibition and live studio demonstration that weekend.

Alison has been active and successful in her pursuit of creative glass making of all kinds for close to three decades. Her recent glassworks are known for combining color sensitivity, romantic tableaux, and a touch of wry humor in multi-media. To learn more about Alison click HERE to read her Biography and Resume. To see works available from Alison please click HERE. Alison will be bringing fresh work with her for the show, so yet another reason to join us!

This will be your only chance to see Alison Ruzsa in a live demonstration in the Chicago area for some time to come, so please avail yourselves of this opportunity the weekend of September 22nd & 23rd. RSVP via our contact page today.

Alison Ruzsa | The Glass Gallery

: Event Schedule :

Friday, September 22.

4 pm – 6 pm – Artist Reception Libations at the LH Selman Gallery. Alison’s works will be available for viewing and purchase.

6:30 pm – Lakefront Dinner Alison and the Selman team will be at the nearby
Columbia Yacht Club in a unique but informal setting aboard the historic
Great Lakes Steamship, Abegweit.
((Dinner, $25/person (or comped with paperweight purchase per person)
Limited Menu: Cash bar))
Please R.S.V.P. to the Selman Gallery Saturday, September 9th.  Contact Us

Saturday, September 23.

11:30 – Midwest PCA members (only) will enjoy a members’ lunch at Salerno’s Restaurant in West Town. To RSVP or become a member of the Midwest PCA
please contact Nancy Alfano via the Midwest PCA website: www.midwestpaperweightcollectors.com

1 pm – 3 pm – Introduction to Alison followed by her live studio demonstration made possible by the kind permission of our associate and the owner of Talisman Studio, Sharon Gilbert. Sharon, herself an accomplished glass artist and instructor, will also be assisting Alison, which is both deeply appreciated and valuable. During this time the artist’s new works will also be on display and available for purchase. The Talisman is located at 469 North Racine Avenue in the West Town neighborhood.  Convenient Parking available.

After 5 pm – Following a break for Alison post demonstration, Alison Ruzsa, Nancy Alfano and members of the Selman gallery staff will be convening for a comfortable dinner at a restaurant somewhere between the Talisman Studio (469 North Racine Ave.) and the Loop. You’re welcome to sit with us or around us and share convivial conversation with the glass-loving devotees. Individual checks. Please R.S.V.P. to us (without commitment) – by September 1.

Alison Ruzsa SPIRIT OF THE MOMENT | The Glass Gallery

Location of the Demonstration:
Sharon Gilbert
Sharon Gilbert
Talisman Glass Studio
469 North Racine Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60622
Tel: 312-455-9555

Midwest Paperweight Collectors
Midwest Paperweight Collectors
Website: http://www.midwestpaperweightcollectors.com/
Email: info@midwestpaperweightcollectors.com
Tel: 312-623-0001

L. H. Selman | The Glass Gallery
L.H. Selman Ltd.
410 South Michigan, Gallery 207
Chicago, Illinois 60605
Tel. 312-583-1177

(Michael and Sue Hunter on their U.S. Tour)
Paul Berlanga

Michael and Sue Hunter began a whirlwind tour in the U.S. recently, flying in from Scotland to Chicago on April 21.  Our good friend and paperweight grande dame Nancy Alfano saw them safely to her home before bringing them down to the Selman Gallery on Michigan Avenue the next day for an afternoon lecture and conversation filled with Michael’s trademark bone-dry humor!  Michael shared stories of his decades-long love affair with glass, including an explanation of his often self-taught working methods that have served him so well in a career that has had him looking for extra storage for his awards and citations!  The Hunters also brought along recent works still warm from the oven that sold briskly, as his collectors know that his output is always “1 of 1” with obvious variations between each final weight.  Before our gallery get-together the Hunters met members of the Midwest PCA at a breakfast at the Congress Plaza hotel a block away; the members also joined us for the lecture.  Too bad we couldn’t have Michael perform an actual demonstration but we heard that there were some who might oppose having thousands of degrees of glass melting flame present in the 135 year-old landmark Fine Arts Building.  (Party-poopers.) Michael inserted hilarious asides delivered deadpan and totally entertained the group while Sue kept him on conversational track, adding a correction or the additional tidbit here and there.

Drinks afterward with Nancy and the Hunters at the Aon Building was a welcome finish to the day and provided our Scottish guests with breathtaking views from the 80th floor of the downtown landscape.

We next encountered the Hunters in Norfolk, Virginia at the big PCA convention of April 27-30.  It was my first convention and I was assisting Ben Clark at The Selman booth where we had an entire glass cabinet filled with recent Hunter creations including some dazzlingly elegant candlesticks and cheerful apples and pears created with a patchwork quilt effect that reflected Mike’s interest in the original homespun bedding traditions.  The candlesticks and patchwork fruit sold out and orders had to be taken. It’s a real bonus to have Sue behind the counter, able to explain every last detail of the processes and intentions.  Mike would occasionally chime in, but he also enjoyed wandering the show floor with its thousands of glass distractions. There was a bonus in Norfolk unavailable at the Chicago meeting; here collectors were able to witness Mike and Sue (his irreplaceable studio mate and yes, some of those innovative designs evolved from her initial inspiration!) give demonstrations at the newly outfitted Glass Studio of the Chrysler Museum of Art.  They collaborated with both Colin Richardson and Chris Sherwin to produce separate works that then sold at the ensuing PCA auction for the organization’s benefit.  Rounding out the assembled all stars giving demonstrations were Dave Graeber, Damon MacNaught, Andy Najarian, Mayauel Ward, Clinton Smith and Gordon Smith – with Cathy Richardson as ringmaster deftly explaining to the crowd what was happening.  It was very interesting watching them all, not only for the creation of the weights themselves, but witnessing the absolutely focused intensity, the zones they seemed to reach while also quickly adapting to the working styles and physical movements of one another.  In a nearby room, Andy Najarian was performing magic, cutting, grinding and polishing glass by hand and eye!  He was estimating multiple geometric spaces visually.  Really I would not have believed it had I not seen it.

Let’s back up just a bit. It all began Thursday morning after registration and a generous buffet breakfast. Phil Edelman presiding as emcee outdid Bob Hope on his best day with sharp wit and sly delivery, setting a warm tone for all that followed.

And what followed involved 9 sessions of highly researched and heartfelt presentations.  There were also the aforementioned totally engaging live demonstrations of glassmaking by teams of contemporary artists (many working together for the first time) at the nearby Glass Studio of the Chrysler Museum, as well as a tour of the museum itself.

On the sales floor the dealers followed the artists in a week of presenting one dazzling array after another of the finest examples in the field of paperweights outside of museum collections.  I arrived a bit late and didn’t have adequate time to truly appreciate all the dealer offerings, but Ken Rosenfeld, Eric Hansen, Gordon Smith, Dave Graeber, Drew Ebelhare and Sue Fox, Victor Trabucco, and the others all had me wishing I had deeper pockets.  Maybe next year…  One note; a few dealers mentioned that it might be worth trying to have the artists’ setups in the same big room as the dealers.  (I was disappointed in not really being able to get around to examine each dealer’s wares in depth, but I did have the pleasure of meeting several of them.  Mayauel Ward had stunning and sumptuous glass works of all description – not only a feat of creation, but of transport from the west coast.  Paul and Karen Dunlop’s booth was a college seminar of Pantin history; yes they had other beautiful weights as well.

An additional bonus to the sales floor was to be found in our Selman booth by the presence of John Hawley, who signed copies of his revised and updated classic, The Boston & Sandwich Glass Company.  Please contact us at Selman for your copy.


Without space and memory to cover each presentation adequately, I apologize right now for mentioning some lectures at greater length than others.  All mistakes and omissions are mine alone. Let me also interject here that it was great to be able to put faces to what had been just names on the web and voices on the phone.

In Session 1, Alan Thornton, the English dealer and collector gave an impressive defense of his estimates of the numbers of various groups of paperweights extant worldwide by the use of mathematical extrapolation using what he could from reliable existing records. I was delighted to realize from one of the slides Alan presented, that it became clear that in one of his masterworks in oil—the great French Impressionist painter Seurat actually was primarily interested in rendering the all important Clichy glass factory at La Garenne—with the bathers in the foreground flanking it as a casual afterthought…or maybe that’s just my willful interpretation!

In Session 2, Paul Dunlop delivered an illuminating lecture on the world of Pantin and provided the best possible visuals.  Not only did he present excellent slides; his booth was filled with a collection of Pantin weights as fine as anything one could hope to see anywhere in one setting.  Paul also proved to be an invaluable under-bidder at the PCA auction later on!  In addition, Paul kindly brought me a poster from a one-man show exhibition of his photo-realist paintings at the Phoenix Art Museum.  He and I have a shared background in representational painting, except that he was actually successful!

Next, Cathy Richardson in Session 3 shared her journey in the arts, away from the world of academic science and toward what has become the great passion in her life.

The world of the hard sciences has had its share of politics and gender issues, but science’s loss came to be the art world’s gain.  Cathy’s dedication and success has proven quite influential, given that her son Colin is also a highly regarded glass artist himself.

In Session 4, Allan Port and Angela Bowey explained the interesting crosscurrents between glassmakers in a speech “Vasart, Pirelli & Lassman.”  I would give a lot to know what the two of them know, not only about paperweights and their history, but also about art and antiques in general.  Also, Allan is an absolute doppleganger for a dear old friend of mine and I’m looking for the photograph to send him.

Session 5: “Emerging From the Shadow”– was about an artist’s influences. Drew Ebelhare, Dave Graeber, Eric Hansen and Daniel Salazar gave the audience the gifts of their memories and feelings about developing as people as well as artists.  Drew was as usual, a bit non-conformist to the delight of many with the only wordless  (Andy Kaufman inspired?) presentation with entertaining images and very unusual music.  Drew is also always the best-dressed glassmaker in the house. And try as I might to compliment him and Sue Fox, they will not tell me just how they attain that gorgeous and edible-looking Dreamsicle color in some of their creations.  Danny Salazar’s good-natured reminiscences (he should always be in a good mood, having grown up in southern California!) Among his memories and experience of course is his tenure at Lundberg Studios and all welcomed his remarks.  Danny should write a book about it. He was also cheerfully invaluable in the Selman booth, being the best possible salesman for the beautiful weights he had created and brought to the booth.  (Thank you Danny!)  Eric Hansen shared tales of life in a multi-generational glass family with a touching note about the undoing of the sales market for his family’s glass animals by hordes of cheaply made and low-priced imports.  Things got better later, he said.  (That’s partly why we need arts education in this country – the development of taste!)  I also remember seeing one of the most beautiful weights of the fair at his table.  It’s almost hard to like a guy who has that much talent in different areas.  If you don’t know, Eric’s resume includes having been a Navy pilot and (currently) an airline pilot!

Dave Graeber opened his heart in an instance of sharing, above and beyond what a presentation might call for.  He spoke of his development under two mentors—Paul Stankard and George Vail. Dave’s relationship with Stankard is well known.  But you could only hope to have a student or acolyte feel about you the bone-deep love, respect and gratitude Dave Graeber has for Mr. Vail, who helped prepare him at an earlier time in his life for the challenges ahead of him.

Friday Session 6 saw Virginia Laidet of the Chrysler Museum provide a general introductory welcome to the attendees.

In a most intimate presentation (Session 7-“The Next Evolution”) Melissa Ayotte, shared her philosophy of life and her love of nature as they imbue her passionate struggle to create an art form that incorporates the essence of classic paperweight-making while focusing also on other elements close to her soul; chief among them being symbols of personal growth, reflection and spirituality.  Please try to access her talk.  A side note; I was impressed by how she tries to maintain a fundamental validity to her pieces. One example: she carefully researched just what seeds and bits of plants would be found in an early Indian bowl made by a particular tribe where she had recreated the bowl as a magnum paperweight. Melissa faithfully placed these inside.  And she balances it all with motherhood.  (I need to up my game!)

Session 8 – In “Antique Sulphide Paperweights,” Dr. Barton, attending the fair with his wife Nancy, offered a scholarly and illuminating presentation on the subject.  I tried to take notes in the dark but had to give up from falling behind and just decided to enjoy the moment and take solace for whatever I did retain.  I’m grateful for the reminder from him to never even touch with an ungloved hand the gold finish on a royal portrait sulphide.  He also in an email explained to me the likely reason why there are many sulphides featuring Robert E. Lee and none of General Grant.  Much of the French sympathy lay with the South during our Civil War, which dovetailed nicely with their ambitions in Mexico during that time.  Also Lee was a more refined and appealing subject.  I’m thinking the romance and tragedy of his lost cause also appealed to the French who have had artists on their currency and philosophers listed as such in their phone directories!

The Norfolk PCA convention ended with quite a surprise…

On day 3 of the PCA conference in Norfolk, Wes Clark took the stage for Session 9 – his talk was “In Pursuit of the Russian Imperial Ring, a 30 Year Odyssey.”   An engaging and seasoned speaker, he slowly released his line and led the audience as nimbly as a veteran fisherman; everyone was hooked!  Initially building a parallel momentum of suspense based on his own international treasure hunts for rarities in the paperweight world (with Mr. Magoo as his PowerPoint avatar!) Wes segued to Larry Selman’s own greatest clandestine adventure—securing the majestic “Russian Ring” in the ominous backstreets of Eastern Europe.  The “crowning” achievement of Wes’ speech was the totally unexpected announcement that the Ring was actually about to enter the room!  Unseen for years, the Selman gallery had once again taken possession of the fabled artwork, even if only for a brief period and by the good graces of a very reclusive collector.  The crowd was stunned and delightfully surprised, responding with huge applause. I polled almost a dozen people afterward, could find no one who had begun to guess the climax of the presentation, so quietly and smoothly had Wes ramped up the sense of anticipation in his tone.  (Later I discovered that a few people had noticed the absence of Ben in the room when Wes called him, and began to have their suspicions.)  Despite that, Wes had, according to many there, provided the surprise highlight of the 3 days of presentations.  That afternoon, from open to close, the Selman booth was swamped with admiring collectors just staring and with several artists, led by Damon MacNaught and Gordon Smith putting their heads together in a vigorous conversation of how possibly to reverse-engineer this masterpiece!

(They came to no consensus.)  We thank the civically minded if very private patron of the arts who allowed us to share the unparalleled achievement that the Ring represents in the history of glasswork!  You should have been there!

Russian Ring – Brief Description of Wes Clark’s lecture

“A big thank you to Katie Malone-Smith for the following photographs…just don’t blame her for the captions!”

All-Star Ballet: L-R, Mayauel Ward, Clinton Smith, Cathy Richardson, Chris Sherwin Dave Graeber.

All-Star Ballet: L-R, Mayauel Ward, Clinton Smith, Cathy Richardson, Chris Sherwin Dave Graeber.

Glass Weights Incorporated, a.k.a. The Artists

Glass Weights Incorporated, a.k.a. The Artists

PCA party favors by Chris Sherwin

PCA party favors by Chris Sherwin

Excellent Accommodations

Excellent Accommodations

Silhouettes at Selman’s

Silhouettes at Selman’s

Phil (Bob Hope) Edelman

Phil (Bob Hope) Edelman

D. Graeber, D. Salazar, E. Hansen, D. Ebelhare- waiting to testify…

D. Graeber, D. Salazar, E. Hansen, D. Ebelhare- waiting to testify…

Experts listening to specialists

Experts listening to specialists

There will be a quiz!

There will be a quiz!

Sue and Mike in the kitchen

Sue and Mike in the kitchen



Glass color Wheel of Fortune

Glass color Wheel of Fortune

Nothing like a live performance!

Nothing like a live performance!

Ben with bodyguards

Ben with bodyguards

All fired up!

All fired up!

“And the award goes to…!”

“And the award goes to…!”

Look carefully – you’re here somewhere…

Look carefully – you’re here somewhere…

“All in the Family” (the Ayottes)

“All in the Family” (the Ayottes)

All volunteer army

All volunteer army

“I don’t know…buy all 10, or send junior to college?”

“I don’t know…buy all 10, or send junior to college?”

“Too heavy to lift…it weighs a million bucks!”

“Too heavy to lift…it weighs a million bucks!”

Following the final formal presentation Jim Lefever, Alan Thornton and Andrew Dohan generously hosted an Identification Clinic.  It was also the third day of the dealers’ fair, where people had a last opportunity to purchase additions to their collections as well as view the stunning and reclusive Imperial Russian Ring.

Interspersed with all this were daily announcements and board meetings hosted by selfless members who gave their time and energy to the cause.   I also met Michael Calleri, who helms the Glass Paperweight Group and who documented the PCA Convention so that all the collectors could see everything on the Internet.  We also connected over the abysmal quality of so much film reviewing today.

He’s already saved me from wasting money at the movie ticket office with his thoughtful but no-nonsense reviews.  Thank you Michael!

The Norfolk event ended on a high note Saturday evening with a cocktail hour followed by a satisfying banquet.  As people were finishing their meals the auction of the collaborative works done at the museum glass studio were auctioned off with some real but good-natured competitive spirits on display.  Talk began informally of where the next event would occur, with Louisville mentioned by more than one attendee.  Chris Sherwin went above and beyond in providing this year’s lovely takeaway weight for everyone at the finale.

At this, my first PCA fair I must say I was genuinely impressed by not only the beauty of the assembled offerings of gorgeous glass art and the passion of the lectures and presentations, but also the sense of fraternity among the men and women who fill the ranks of collectors and dealers.  I felt a definite affectionate kinship among you all who were present there and who are reading this.  From the Greatest Generation to the Baby Boomers and even on to those gifted and prescient Millennials who are picking up the torch—I saw nothing but respect and sharing.

It was a pleasure to be there.

Co-incidence? – I don’t think so!  In a surprise move the NATO Alliance saw fit celebrate our PCA members event with a grand parade throughout the downtown area of Norfolk.  Google it if you don’t believe me.  Thank you, half of Europe!!!

Impressed by the international salute, the Hunters departed on Sunday with Diane Warning, who graciously hosted them before bringing them to their next stop – the NEPCA convention.  There, in a hotel in the town of Marlborough outside of Boston, Michael again spoke to an appreciative audience.  Now, Michael claims to be color-blind but when asked how he could achieve the subtle and absolutely harmonious palettes that give many of his works their singular aura, he straightaway says “I read German” meaning he does it by German color charts and number tables. I’m scratching my head over that one, but it certainly seems to work well.  The NEPCA fair attendees were also grateful for an interesting overview; “The Contemporary Paperweight Collection of Richard Schimmelpfeng” was delivered by Kirk Nelson, director of the New Bedford Museum of Glass of Massachusetts.  Allan Port was the lead speaker, generous with his time as well as donations to the table that held some very nice “door prizes.”  Thank you again, Allan for the glass weight of the Earth I took home.

The list of people to acknowledge for their time, energy and devotion to the organizations that bring lovers of paperweights together is indeed a long one and I apologize to any speakers, artists and collectors whom I have failed to identify individually or correctly.  It truly was a gathering of dedicated collectors, artists and dealers. Thanks to Phil Edelman, Diane Warning, Martha Foley, Ellen Rostker, Don Formigli, Deb Zonies, Clara Ayotte, Allan Port and all the glass lovers who gave and continue to give of their time and energy to keep the flame alive beyond the glass studio.

A last thank you to Bob Hartman, a Florida dealer and one of the heroes of the PCA auction.   I tried to stand near him and pick up some of that happy-go-lucky charm of his.  Thank you Bob for reminding me to smile more –

I hope next time I won’t be operating with a severely pinched nerve in my shoulder! Until next time!

L.H. Selman Ltd. is pleased to announce a rare opportunity for you to meet Michael Hunter, an exceptional artist and master craftsman in the glass art field.  Mike and Sue, his wife and studio partner, of TWISTS GLASS STUDIO of Scotland, will be in Chicago and available for 1 day, April 22.  We invite you to join us at the L.H. Selman Ltd. Gallery of Fine Glass Paperweights to meet them and enjoy a presentation by the award-winning glassmaker (sorry- no demonstrations that afternoon). The Hunters will also be exhibiting new paperweights and glasswork.

No Admission Charge. Refreshments will be served.

Read more about Mike and Sue Hunter and Twists Glass Studio on our website: Twists Glass Studio Bio

WHO:            Mike and Susan Hunter of Twists Glass Studio
WHAT:           Lecture/Conversation and Presentation of newly arrived works
WHEN:          Saturday, April 221- 4 p.m.
WHERE:        L.H. Selman Gallery, 410 South Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL. 60605
WHY:             Because You Deserve It!

 QUESTIONS: Please Contact Paul or Molly at 312-583-1177 or 800-538-0766

Master Glass Artist

Mike Hunter 2015 “Devo” magnum paperweight. In honor of the proposed Scottish secession of 2014, two three-dimensional lizards, each made from astonishing compilations of murrini faces, climb across a large red, white and blue orb draped on one side with the British flag and on the other with that of Scotland. Edition #1 of 1. Signature cane. Signed. Diameter 4 1/4″.

Hunter Candle Sticks Glass Paperweights Glass Paperweights

Books Provide a Wealth of Information !

One of the interesting aspects of the art world is when top tier artists cross over to other related fields.  The renowned photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson considered himself a draughtsman.  Picasso wrote a wartime play in which feminist writer Simone de Beauvoir debuted one of the roles . Edward Ruscha the hyper successful artist launched his acting career in filmmaker Alan Rudolph’s cult hit “Choose Me.”

But it may be a bit surprising to some to find that our own very specifically defined art field of fine glass paperweights has a connection to a world-class artist from the world of modern photography.  The talented and beautiful Dora Maar was also a painter and one of the great loves and muses of the aforementioned Picasso,  (a portrait of her by the master sold in 2006 for almost one hundred million dollars) But her personal claim to artistic fame is as a photographer, whose vintage works are now treasured and highly sought after.  She was an important contributor to the Surrealist movement and her visionary photographs have sold for as much as $216,000 in the marketplace.

It seems unusual to find that a celebrated symbol of all that is avant-garde was also a gifted sculptor, contributing two of the well-known, classically rendered examples of the art of sulphide portraiture to that re-emerging field.  Her sulphides, of English Prime Minister Winston Churchill and General Robert E. Lee, the leader of the Confederate Army, were created in 1954 for Baccarat. The very accomplished likenesses reveal a sense of strength, nobility and determination in the two major historic figures.

churchill sulphide

The first mention we came across of Dora Maar was in Sulphides, the 1968 book by Paul Jokelson, the man credited with having personally convinced the great French glass houses to revive and revitalize the 19th century paperweight phenomenon.

(Later Jokelson would aid Arthur Rubloff in assembling his world-class paperweight collection which resides in our own Art Institute of Chicago.) On page 125, Jokelson writes of an array of works, “These cameos were sculptured by three great French artiists: Gilbert Poillerat, Dora Maar, and Albert David.”

Lawrence Selman himself mentions Dora Maar in his handsomely produced book, The Art of the Paperweight, published by the Paperweight Press in 1988, with but a single sentence, “Dora Maar(sometimes spelled Mar), a protégée of Picasso, also designed two sulphides for Baccarat.”


Paul Dunlop, a longtime specialist and authority on paperweights comes to the rescue of the mystery as to exactly which two pieces Maar created, on pages 146 and 147 of his invaluable volume, Baccarat Paperweights: two centuries of beauty, published in 2013.  He also provides the year both were made – 1954.  Maar chose to sign these weights with the alternate spelling of “Mar” for reasons unknown.

Just thought you’d find it interesting…

This rare Baccarat commemorative paperweight from 1858 sold at an L.H. Selman auction last year for $55,000. On Sept. 17, an auction will feature nearly 400 paperweights from the Art Institute of Chicago, with bidding starting at $1,000.

This rare Baccarat commemorative paperweight from 1858 sold at an L.H. Selman auction last year for $55,000. On Sept. 17, an auction will feature nearly 400 paperweights from the Art Institute of Chicago, with bidding starting at $1,000.

Somewhere under the clutter of papers on my desk in the newsroom is a glass paperweight about to be laid to waste by the “Frankenstein of Cary.”

“There’s a night-and-day difference between paperweights. There are paperweights like the one on your desk that are worth maybe 35 cents, and then there are the ones at the Art Institute of Chicago,” says this Frankenstein, who earns his title as a heavyweight in the paperweight world. “I got the nickname because the dealers created a monster when I outbid them at auctions.”

He may intimidate paperweight peers, but I’m withholding his real name not out of personal fear but because Frankenstein is an otherwise polite 71-year-old retired chemical industry executive who doesn’t want strangers to know he owns a collection of valuable antique paperweights, including some worth more than my car.

He’s about to get a chance to add museum-worthy gems to his collection, thanks to next month’s auction of paperweights that reside at the Art Institute of Chicago.

“This has never happened before. Never in the history of paperweights has there ever been an opportunity to purchase museum-quality artwork,” says Ben Clark, owner of L.H. Selman, the extensive paperweight gallery in Chicago, which is hosting the auction. “These are essentially near-duplicates of what’s on display (in the Art Institute’s Arthur Rubloff Collection of Paperweights). Some of these will go for five figures.”

The auction of 400 paperweights, bundled in lots of two to four with bidding beginning at $1,000, begins at noon Sept. 17 with bidders competing in a live auction at 900 S. Clinton St. in Chicago, and worldwide online, by phone and through absentee bids.

These four glass paperweights are indicative of the quality of about 400 paperweights currently at the Art Institute of Chicago that will be auctioned off to the public on Sept. 17. While some individual paperweights are expected to be worth five figures, bidding on groups of two to four begins at photo1,000.

These four glass paperweights are indicative of the quality of about 400 paperweights currently at the Art Institute of Chicago that will be auctioned off to the public on Sept. 17. While some individual paperweights are expected to be worth five figures, bidding on groups of two to four begins at photo1,000.

The majority of the auction features 19th-century works, but it also includes some 20th-century pieces and some made by contemporary artists.

To register or get more information, phone (800) 538-0766 or visit the L.H. Selman website at theglassgallery.com.

“This auction is an absolutely great opportunity for a new collector to find an antique weight,” Frankenstein says. “This is the chance of a lifetime for someone who is interested in the finest, rarest things.”

The Cary collector got his start in the hobby when he was in his 20s.

“I wanted things that everybody didn’t know about. The first paperweight I ever bought was at a farm sale in Kansas,” he says, remembering how he took his bidding cues from paperweight dealers. “They came to this farm in the middle of Kansas. I just outbid the dealers.”

Hooked, he learned more through research and books, such as “The Dictionary of Glass Paperweights,” by Paul H. Dunlop. Frankenstein still has his original paperweight.

The first paperweight purchased by a collector known as the "Frankenstein of Cary" more than 40 years ago turned out to be a rare Clinchy Fantasy Flower. The collector, who earned his nickname by outbidding other dealers, who said they had created a monster, figures this paperweight probably could fetch "The 0,000 today. - Courtesy of 'Frankenstein'

The first paperweight purchased by a collector known as the “Frankenstein of Cary” more than 40 years ago turned out to be a rare Clinchy Fantasy Flower. The collector, who earned his nickname by outbidding other dealers, who said they had created a monster, figures this paperweight probably could fetch “The 0,000 today. – Courtesy of ‘Frankenstein’

“The first one I bought was a Clichy flower,” he says of the colorful flower encased in glass and made between 1846 and 1850. “I didn’t realize it at the time, but it turned out to be a very rare and hard-to-find Clichy Fantasy Flower.”

Another of his favorites is a “scrambled” piece by Italian artist Pietro Bigaglia. The paperweight features lots of colorful and intricate items, including a crown, since it was made for the Queen of Greece to commemorate her visit to Venice on Sept. 30, 1845.

“What a nice souvenir,” Frankenstein says.

But sentiment doesn’t play a role in his collections, he insists, telling of how he recently passed up a chance to buy a box full of interesting paperweights because none was worth more than a few dollars.

“There are some paperweights that I bought for a couple hundred that are worth more than $10,000 now. I don’t buy anything without value,” he proclaims, pausing a moment before offering an admission. “But you can get hooked on the beauty of them. Each one is unique.”

It's easy to figure out when this paperweight was made. Italian artist Pietro Bigaglia included the date of Sept. 30, 1845, and a tiny crown to commemorate a visit to Venice by the king and queen of Greece. - Courtesy of 'Frankenstein'

It’s easy to figure out when this paperweight was made. Italian artist Pietro Bigaglia included the date of Sept. 30, 1845, and a tiny crown to commemorate a visit to Venice by the king and queen of Greece. – Courtesy of ‘Frankenstein’

With maybe 15,000 19th-century paperweights still around, and a couple thousand collectors, the market, as it did originally, caters to an aristocratic crowd not concerned with practicality.

“I think people who collect them collect them because of their beauty and their rarity,” Frankenstein says. “What would you use a paperweight for today? I can’t think of one thing.”

Source: http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20160830/news/160839973/

Rare fine-art paperweights to be auctioned here

Among the rareties in the upcoming auction are Paul Stankard’s 1984 Morning Glories, at left; an antique Baccarat blue primrose star-cut paperweight from the Rubloff Collection, top right; and a Baccarat Napoleon III with red and white torsade faceted weight, also from the Rubloff Collection.

Rare paperweights, many from the 19th century and held in private collections by prominent Chicagoans, will be auctioned off this week.

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