An American Original Shows Them What They Forgot
No. 5 in the LHS Pop Mini-Bio Series
OKAY, This one is Tough. In our ‘Pop Mini-Bios’ thus far we were able to gain the trust of the artists who then shared inside information with us, which we of course immediately presented to you all.
Sure we were able to tease Gordon Smith in his Arizona studio about rattlesnakes and nightly coyote raids (which turned out to be true!) – and we exposed Damon MacNaught as wasting time baking bread for his family when he should have had glass in that kiln (almost true! – he does bake for them daily, but we realize now, in the kitchen). We brought you a heart-pounding description of the destruction to Alison Ruzsa’s glass works which involved the huge metal protective building doors being flung like toys off their hinges in the episode called “Hurricane Sandy Makes a Studio Visit.” Sad and true. And recently we tugged at your heartstrings when we were the first to report about how Delmo and Debbie Tarsitano battled frostbite with bathroom hand dryers while selling paperweights at the outdoor winter fairs and flea markets. Sensational information? Yes. Click Bait? Darn near!
But THE (pronounced thee) Charles Kaziun Jr. presents a real challenge! First of all, we never had the pleasure to meet him and he’s no longer with us. Second of all, when it comes to this imposing icon, it’s all been said already—culminating with the Paperweight Press publication of Magic in the Glass: The Paperweight Artistry of Charles Kaziun, Jr. by Ben Drabeck, a delightful colleague and a true pillar of this community who will be seriously missed. So think of this relatively as the TMZ treatment (ask your kids).
Charlie (he liked to be called that) was an extremely talented and determined individual. This is the kind of guy you want with you in a submarine that’s sitting wedged in the Pacific Mariana Trench with the forward torpedo room flooding. When he saw a technical challenge he seemed to come alive with determination. Here was a rebel artist. Alone in his quest, functioning almost as the TV character MacGyver, with improvised instruments – a Chase & Sanborn coffee can as a shop burner – and flying blind as he strove to reopen the vault doors to the secrets of the ancients (okay, we’re only talking about a century and a half – just go with it). But just try and tell him something couldn’t be done and watch the sparks fly as he proved you wrong. Seriously, the young artist’s insatiable imagination and energy allowed him to first re-engineer the content and quality of classic era paperweights before creating his own indelible mixture of designs and executions that today stand out for their beauty and are immediately identifiable. (Try leaving your name lying around engraved in gold and see if people don’t remember you!)
But the real reason Charlie Kaziun has retained his stature as an artist and pioneer is the quality and dedication that marked his career of almost six decades—beginning in 1934 when he was a freshman in high school. Over his career in glass and especially early on, Charlie created vases, ashtrays, pitchers, buttons, salt dishes, pens, candelabra, and more, in addition to paperweights. It would take several more pages to describe how he bribed, cajoled and caressed the glass into the beautiful works he created so just look at the pictures this time around!
Charlie gained momentum when he began closely observing the public demonstrations by the renowned Howell family of glassblowers who decided it was easier to hire the kid than to have him arrested for stalking and industrial espionage. Later Charlie studied at and worked (making glass instruments) for the University of Pennsylvania (1942-1967 off and on) and thrived under the mentorship of James Graham, whom Charlie called the “best scientific glassblower of his time.” At times Charlie stayed at the University until 1 am, working on his own designs and would flat out run from his second floor workshop with his molten punty load to the annealing oven in the school’s basement before it cooled too much. Dedication.
By the late 1940s-early 1950s, a network of dealers had placed Kaziuns alongside their antique French and American pieces in their shops and galleries. In 1945 on a summer (working) sojourn to Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory—and guys being guys—Charlie wound up annoying his future wife, Louise, before he even met her. Actually her mom rented Charlie her daughter’s bedroom while she was at her summer job, and the eighteen year old came home to find herself demoted to the nursery! She was Fuming! (Remember – in life, you only have one chance to make a first impression!) They married a quick nine years later.
There’s no way to cover in this space all of Charlie’s achievements over the decades and besides, we’d be sued for copyright infringement by Ben Drabeck’s heirs (kidding) but suffice it to say that Charles Kaziun mastered every known technique of glass making there was and his tireless efforts were rewarded with sales and recognition long before there was much of an organized paperweight community. His was a lonely path in many respects. Those sales and the recognition also helped him with his live-in mother, Nana, who softened her criticism of her son’s artistic efforts (she wanted him always making scientific glass) as she witnessed collector after collector coming to the house and buying everything right off the kitchen table.
One day Charlie received the biggest compliment a paperweight maker could ever wish for. In the 1940s he had been pretty much alone in the paperweight field, but by 1952-53, Baccarat and Saint Louis had both resumed the production of paperweights. Charlie had once said: “With all due respect to the French, I don’t think they have the patent on brains and if they had succeeded in reviving an art form of this sort over there, possibly it could be done over here.” In 1953, Charlie and Louise attended an antique show in New York City where Paul Jokelson was displaying Kaziun weights next to mostly antiques. Representatives from both Baccarat and Saint Louis were present and after examining Charlie’s efforts, they begged him on the spot to fly home with them to show the French where they were making all their mistakes! (YES, we’re talking about being PAID to come to PARIS!) But our hero declined their offers and continued full speed with his own work and that’s lucky for all our personal collections. In his later decades, after so many years filled with experimentation, hard work, exhibitions, success, and recognition— various health issues began to physically impair Charlie, and he really focused his future efforts on training his son Charles in the art of glass. It must have been a proud day when he told his son that the younger Kaziun’s miniature Christmas ornaments far surpassed any that he had ever made. It was only after Charlie’s passing in 1992, however that his son Charles began making paperweights.
There’s no better way to take our leave of this woefully inadequate description of a truly talented and groundbreaking artist whose work is in every serious collection, than to quote a fragment from the writings of Louise, who, seems at some point to have forgiven Charlie for her unseemly eviction from her own bedroom…
“When I hold one of his pieces and study it, what’s inside seems to glow with life. That’s what is so fascinating to me about paperweights. The forms and the flowers in the glass are the closest thing to eternal life we can know.”
Sometimes in our freeform Pop Mini-Bio series, we just let go of the reins and stand aside. Here, Debbie Tarsitano leapt into producing her narrative for us, maybe because she read our expose on Damon MacNaught and rightfully knows we can’t be trusted… okay, partially kidding. Debbie lives with her husband Martin in Westford Massachusetts. Two grown sons and Kathryn, her 96-year old mother, round out the immediate family. And while compulsively experimenting with glass and its relationships with other art forms and materials for many years, Debbie says she wants to make one thing perfectly clear, “I’m a paperweight lover!” This from an artist who also says, “I can’t find anything that’s as hard to make as a paperweight.” We guess that’s why it’s called a “Labor of Love.”
In my life I would like to be known as honest, straightforward and sensible. In my artwork I would like to be the wild child, having as the Tao says, “the beginner’s mind,” – inventive, unafraid and bold. The world is my canvas and having artwork that is considered relevant to the time we live in is important. I love paperweights. I started making them in the 1970s, after years of being an accomplished painter.
Born in 1955, I was about 13 when my dad and I bought a small group of American paperweights (with a few Muranos) at a country auction. We were intrigued by what we had and my father particularly wanted to find out how these might have been made. He was technically adept and endlessly curious—fascination grew into experimentation and our Tarsitano Studio was born. Dad and I shared interests in gardening, collecting and now making art. My mom Kathryn was our biggest fan and invaluable bookkeeper. We made quite a team.
I was about 19. I would soon graduate early from Hofstra University with degrees in fine art and journalism. (I told the dean I was already immersed in my business and had to finish quickly. For some reason he listened!) During this time we had also become active dealers in paperweights with my father and I developing relationships with Paul Jokelson and Larry Selman. My father bought from Larry and Larry sold our work. (I still have the Selman poster from the mid-80s of my paperweights on a background of drawings I did of inspirational flowers.)
I represented our business buying weights at Sotheby’s auctions by 1975. Friendships came quickly with members of the paperweight community in the mid-1970s. I remember being asked to donate a weight I had made to the 1976 PCA Boston Convention auction and it was bought by a very well known collector! Paul Jokelson made me come up on stage and I was overwhelmed as he introduced me to the crowd of about 400 people. Dad and I had been selling at flea markets where the venues ranged from rural high school cafeterias to Madison Square Garden, but this was my first serious public sale and recognition! (Oh, how I recall some of those outdoor winter markets where we had to take turns warming up in the public bathrooms!) I think that Boston was also where I met Max Erlacher, the gifted glass engraver with whom I would later collaborate.
I originally fell in love with antique paperweights, the mystery of them and the fascinating era they were created in. In time I grew away from antique works and pursued an interest in contemporary art, studying the works of Picasso, Warhol and others. Their bold initiatives inspired me to reach beyond the classic paperweight form. In their worlds, shape, form, design, color, imagination and the manipulation of material—all seem endless. It was so natural for me to join in with that spirit. I was a fish in that stream, constantly developing new work. I never left paperweights—but I demanded progress; I was a protestor, hoping doors would open and create greater challenges and possibilities for the art of encasement. Paperweights became canvases to me, inside and out, without limitations to shape or embellishment. Their interiors could tell stories and their exteriors could reinforce the ideas and concepts.
I have been an instructor at The Studio of the Corning Museum of Glass since 2005. I have studied and worked there with many of the great glass innovators: Jiri Harcuba and Martin Rosol for engraving and glass-cutting; Kimiake and Shinichi Higuchi for pâte de verre; Cappy Thompson for painting on glass and Denise Stillwaggon Leone for photo transfer to glass. I also worked with Dino Rosin of Venice making a large-scale paperweight and other sculptures. I painted the base of one collaboration, “Lens Fantasia,” with the narrative of my life’s work.
In perspective, the work I created with my Father was a perfect jumping point to new horizons. That time had been spent learning techniques and building a foundation for the future. We were Father, Daughter, friends, and collaborators—we taught each other but we also stayed clear of each other’s ideas and set no limits upon the art. How perfect can that be? Work in continuous development over long periods of an artist’s life builds a major portfolio. Sadly, Dad passed in 1991 just as he claimed the right to explore so many new areas of art. I went on to realize our dreams alone, pushing my work beyond its traditional limits and busting out towards a new future for the art of paperweight as sculpture.
For many years I routinely worked 7 days a week, with periods where I rarely enjoyed time outside other than to check on mom, who lives close by. The moment my husband and two boys were off to school and work, I would throw myself into the studio. My sons are now grown and my husband and I share the two-car garage—my studio and his office. Martin is a well known Management Consultant and author who also taught for a decade at the University of Pennsylvania. He just happens to be Paul Stankard’s brother. At least he knew what to expect when he met me!
I use glass from Bullseye and I still have some Schott as well. Years ago, when there was a “lock” on the Schott glass formula most favored for making paperweights, we worked with a chemist at Schott to produce “S5” and later “S8” (with Chris Buzzini) which worked extremely well and which we did not patent. It was available to all. I recently took the plunge and had a custom HUB Consolidated kiln built for my studio to handle larger works.
Experimentation is not fun; talented people suffer and it is lonely. But it is a necessity in creating new and profound works of original art. I can’t describe the thrill of dropping molten glass on the most delicate of flame works, opening the kiln, seeing the perfection and mystery of glass in its completion as a work of art. But I can share with you that the result brings something better to this world.
Collectors give the art works temporary homes. They are custodians of the art, safeguarding treasure until the next generation is ready to discover it. Ultimately collectors and historians will make of my work what they each see in it. (I do have concepts and stories about my work, but those are personal, written for myself.) It is left to the viewers of my art to discover my intentions and decide for themselves what of them to make their own. My own mission in life is to continue creating art with the greatest, most honest intention possible and to leave something behind that is good.
It has been quite a life of artistic creation (experiment, sacrifice and occasional triumph), collaboration, sales, and exhibitions—not to mention a full family life. What? You’re asking me what I do on vacation, now that I take some time off occasionally?
I go beachcombing for sea glass.
You must avail yourselves of the splendid interview that Ben Drabeck conducted with Debbie; read “Transitions: A Journey in Glass,” published in the Annual Bulletin of the Paperweight Collectors Association, Inc. 2014. It’s invaluable. We thank Ben for this insightful contribution (among so much else) to the glass community; he will be sorely missed.
D A R T H G R A E B E R : E P I S O D E V
“C R E A T I N G W O R L D S I N F L A M E!”
Dave Graeber arrived in Chicago this cool April weekend and claimed to us that he was here to oversee the installation of the first (5!) permanent flame work stations at the non-profit Project Fire Studio. He is also giving the first demonstrations utilizing the new units, and making certain that certain safety guidelines and protocols are understood and followed. (Apparently fire gets really hot.) The issuing of several sets of specific equipment, including special glasses will also reinforce the lessons of careful use and responsible stewardship upon individual trainees.
Dave is aided in his task by a donation made on behalf of the Glass Paperweight Foundation. The donation provided funds for the necessary torches, tanks, glass, equipment, wood for the benches, and the special “PF” monogrammed after dinner mints.
But the true motive for his visit began to unravel, as Dave broke down and began to tell the whole sordid story. Yes, he (as we’re writing) is at the PF Studio teaching the art of glass and guiding young lives but that is not really why he’s here.
Dave Graeber came dressed as a full-blown Starship Stormtrooper. At least that’s how he wanted to appear in our gallery before making headlines at the massive Star Wars 20th Annual Convention at our lakefront McCormick Center!
But tragically he proved too big for his son’s outfit and he was forced to come in his other disguise, that of an ordinary Earthling. That hasn’t stopped him, however, from making some strange new friends from other planets (see picture). How Dave has managed to also find time to create some of his own little worlds in glass is beyond us. Maybe a little help from a “Dark Father” and his abuse of The Force? Hey! Suddenly we can’t breathe…Sorry, Darth, we were just kidding!!!
We can’t wait to see how he shows up in Dearborn for the PCA Convention!
And we are looking forward to seeing you all! We will be bringing the finest in glass paperweight artworks with us as we (carefully) journey all across the country in 2019. And if you are considering consigning or selling a collection, we are also available to make special stops en route to view and pick up your artworks or we may also arrange a separate visit to come your way. Just give us a call!
Delaware Valley PCA: April 13th, 2019
PCA Dearborn/Flint: May 15th-18th, 2019
Northern California PCA: September 21st, 2019
L.H. Selman, Ltd. is pleased to announce our Winter 2019, 71st Glass Paperweight Auction, featuring 336 lots, antique and modern, as well as choice paperweight-related objects. Initial Bidding commences Monday, February 25th at 9:00 am CST. Initial bidding ends on Monday, March 11th at 5pm CST by phone and at 11:59pm CST by Internet. The auction is fully online, hosted on our AUCTION WEBSITE. A web friendly digital e-catalog can be viewed at E-CATALOG, while a printed copy of the catalog is for sale at PRINT-CATALOG. For those of you who have enjoyed watching spin videos of featured pieces, they can be accessed via our YouTube Channel. If you see something to your liking, please do not fail to place an initial bid in order to ensure that you have a position in the competitive bidding that follows in the second half of the auction. Competitive bidding begins on Tuesday, March 12th.
We recommend that you give the catalog’s Conditions of Sale a careful examination for a full understanding of the protocols, and please note that we have adjusted the language on our condition statements. A key can be found in the Conditions of Sale on page 62 of the catalog. Please call the gallery with any questions about these changes or the auction format, and don’t forget, we’re always happy to send additional images, videos or condition reports upon request.
You can also make an appointment to see every lot in person at our gallery in Chicago, 410 S. Michigan Ave., suite 207. We would love to see you all in person! If you prefer to place any or all bids by phone, or have any questions, just give us a call at 1-800-538-0766.
IF NONE OF THIS MAKES SENSE WE’RE BLAMING IT ON SPRING FEVER, AFTER WIND CHILLS OF 52 BELOW HERE IN CHICAGO, OUR BRAINS ARE STILL FROZEN!
We’ve consulted the eminent Chicago law firm, Dewey, Cheatem & Howe (Get it?) and they’ve assured us that we’re not the responsible types. And while we’re discussing these critical issues we want to take this opportunity to crush a couple of nasty rumors that have been flooding the Internet:
No. 1 – We never park the paperweight-mobile in a lot so that we straddle the lines and take two spots. Nope, that’s not us.
No. 2 – It is a bald-faced lie, that we ourselves secretly only collect Bakelite and bottle caps.
Now that that’s done – On to the Hunt! Let’s start at the beginning, shall we…!
Gazing at the Sorcerer’s Dessert!
We just learned a new word last night just in time (on television no less) and it’s called for here. ‘Ensorcell’ is the word. (Why it took so long to learn a word that came into being in the mid-16th century is embarrassing…) But we are definitely ensorcelled, or enchanted by this work, filled with a magical cloud of tiny stars, whose shifting densities giving the appearance of quiet movement, gentle undulation. The softly colored and exquisitely positioned trefoils resemble a line of delicate frosting on a cream topping off a decadent French dessert displayed on the Sun King’s table in Versailles. This work should be edible – it was certainly baked well enough! Call for details of the recipe!
This Will Look Great Parked Next to Your Vintage Sports Car!
We move now from the quietest pastels to a riot of vibrant reddish orange canes absolutely carousing (there’s no other word for it!) around more than a dozen brightly attired and proudly posturing Gridel portraits. There’s also a very interesting cane with an elegant white bird wearing the world’s tiniest shamrocks for footwear. No Blarney! Ask for a close-up! You may think you already have an antique Baccarat with Gridel silhouettes and a perfect red, white and blue “1848” in the waistband, but this weight could take pride of place in the category. Even the canes below the sightline are perfectly poised with one another. This is an exciting weight. It’s a crime that the 19th century glass master didn’t get to sign this one!
Before the Palme d’Or at Cannes or the Souvenir Henri Desgrange at the Tour de France There Was …
… THE GOLD MEDAL at the Exposition Universelle, Paris! That is what was awarded Pantin in 1878 for its magnificent glass on display. Glass creations such as this pink dahlia just may have had something to do with that. Each petal of this gorgeous dahlia seems filled with a little breath of air and has an abundantly lifelike quality. The dark green stem and variegated leaves (and nascent bud) are also very natural in their hues. This also has an extra heavy lead crystal and a generous dome. Don’t think you can wait for this impressive tour de force (French, get it?) to ever come around again. Try for it in earnest now or be content with cutting out the picture you see here.
A Cabbage for Car Buffs!
This very rare Baccarat is a compact classic. Fully loaded with a gleaming finish and custom (star-cut) detailing. No, not a ’57 Thunderbird…better- maybe a ’57 Baccarat. Under 10% of antique Baccarat roses sport this kind of ruffle trim and red linen interior. And this beauty has the original “4 on the floor” shift stem system with 4 vibrantly lush leaf groupings. As the Beach Boys used to sing – you want the pink slip on this baby! (Okay – that’s just the receipt of ownership). One other thing – this has an incredible sunroof; serious light magnification. Just get used to catching everyone’s eyes when you’re seen with this one! Cool sunglasses required.
♪♪…Nobody Does it Better…♫♫
Even the English, with their sometime incomprehensible reserve, would have to admit that this “Is a bit of all right!” Stateside we have to say that this is simply one of the most visually pleasing weights the glass masters at Baachus have ever produced. Gentle as a fresh pillow, the weight contains a wonderful variety of canes both large and small that jostle comfortably in a pastel sea dotted with deeper color accents. The interplay serves to both define a satisfying pattern as well as to create a dynamic visual, and all in a very subtle framework. The center complex cane, dominated by pinks is a gossamer wonder with its outer circle of canes partially translucent and looking as if they might just float away. And a tip of the English hat to Her Majesty comes in the form of the allusive hollow oak leaves. Even James Bond, when confronted about a romance with a beautiful foreign spy, snapped back, “What I did, I did for Queen and Country!” Loyalty! Nobody does it like the English.
Just Recovered From a Major Museum Robbery!
This large gem, fresh from a daring 1995 New Year’s heist at the New York Historical Society is here offered …Excuse me – what? It was de-accessioned legally and sold at Sotheby’s that year? Okay…well, at least that makes an interstate sale a bit easier for our bookkeeping. So anyway, this beautifully disciplined concentric millefiori with a range of lively and sophisticated colors, and dominated by various lush shades of green is quite extraordinary. The contrasts are a delight to eye. If you need a weight to go with your tux and top hat you might consider this on your favorite table at the Stork Club. And it has a white spaced stave basket below embracing transparent blue within as a finishing touch. The perfect table setting. 13 crisp Clichy roses at no extra charge!
Sometimes, Beauty Really Is Everything!
We heard of a rumor going around that we’re pre-disposed to say nice things about paperweights. Fact is, it’s easy to do when you’re staring at the quality and variety we’ve assembled for this time at bat! Lot 14 is an exceptionally well thought-out work with the sizes of the canes increasing very, very gradually as they radiate from the center. While technically a close pack, this comes close to also being a concentric in its formation. The careful suffusion of different reds, greens, blues and whites achieves a harmony, a balance that bespeaks very careful consideration taken in the aggregation of canes in the initial design. (What, you didn’t think we could also talk seriously?!) A stave basket of white and blue separated by thin soft dark spaces provides an almost contemporary flair to the finish.
No Jokes for This One.
A classically well done antique with a rare assemblage of elements on a handsome blue jasper ground. Very heavy crystal. (Did you see where it said “possibly unique,” below?) A commanding, almost noble artwork. A fine addition to your family coat of arms!
This Could Replace the MGM Studio Lion.
Honestly, (okay so we’re wildly exaggerating). But remember the massive lion’s roaring cameo that began every MGM major motion picture? That’s the initial impact this delicately detailed but very impactful and beautiful salmon-colored Baccarat pompon had on us due in large part to the incredible dramatic play of light provided by the generous, even sumptuous melon cut base. The deep and curved grooves in the crystal provide a remarkable contrast of light lines radiating outward from this classic motif. This could make a fine replacement – how do we know they took good care of the lion anyway, he never sounded too happy? And while we’re on subject of nature what’s with the salmon; how did one fish inspire the color palettes of so many glass artists?
If You Knew How Many Forest Floors We Hunted Through to Find This Magnificent Specimen!
For about the same price as a couple of Champignon (mushroom) appetizers (which you pay for after they’re already gone!) at Manhattan’s Per Se French Restaurant on Columbus Circle, you can instead have this magnificent specimen to enjoy. And then enjoy it again tomorrow, and tomorrow! You get the pitch! This lot presents a brilliant example of the art form, an absolutely gorgeous and delicately hued mushroom heralded by a spirited pink torsade, host to a twisting white ribbon dancing through it, and a mercury ring (mercury not included) all showcasing the finest in French art du verre. (Yeah, we’re using Google.) Elegantly signed by the chef on the stem of this champignon au naturel. There’s a lot more to say but we don’t know the language (and Penelope’s off in a meeting)… except “au revoir pour le moment!
Seriously, Who Knew Early Americans Were This Happy?
This delicate effusion of happy and lush pastel canes stacked like a weightless dessert is an unusually joyous piece of American art glass. The paperweight has a generous top facet and six egg-shaped, gently scalloped facets that sensually accentuate the height of the work and effectively magnify the delightful ruffled and lacy canes to where they expand upward to fill the space. White and baby blue cog canes form a low stave basket and jettison from the center of the base in a wonderful design that looks like a dramatic explosion frozen.
More Than Just Another Pretty Odd-Looking Face!
This is seriously depressing to write. Really, this man accomplished more in his sleep than the rest of us here have while awake! With a young adulthood that included being beaten regularly by his brother while assisting said brother with his printing press, then fleeing Boston penniless and later being cheated out of several months wages by the governor of Pennsylvania, Benjamin Franklin of course then went on to help birth the country while discovering (in his spare time), electricity and also inventing the forerunners of half the things you use and depend on today. That’s frankly (yes, intentional pun) too impressive to comprehend and likely the reason we don’t celebrate this genius the way we should. The comparison hurts too much. Obviously the man needs a Broadway Musical. But in the meantime you can redeem yourself by acquiring this very finely rendered likeness of the man whom many scholars think of as one of the two greatest Americans. (No, the other is not Tom Brady.) Yes, it was made in France but after all, we modeled our own revolution after theirs. And not long after we won independence the French sold us the rest of our future country for a song. It’s just too bad they didn’t own it. And “odd looking” – well some sources claim that it was Ben’s first wife’s first reaction upon seeing him. Thankfully he wasn’t perfect. The weight is, though.
The Breath of Life Itself…Held Forever!
This looks natural and effortless, a look all artists aspire to accomplish. Feel the elements, flowing around in the glass almost casually – it breathes; nothing is forced or too stylized; we’re especially taken with the graceful line work on both the leaves and the blueberries. The bee is stunning of course, and here also the single human figure (or spirit person if you meditate) integrated quietly and effectively. Pleasing and harmonious colors. The magnification in this dome is unusually strong and illusionistic. Playfully lyrical and perfectly executed.
No Need for Panic!
Well, weren’t we pleased to discover that an Agoseris is such a strikingly beautiful multi-tiered flower, and not something dragging its armored tail around in Jurassic Park! The nascent flower as well as the one in full bloom displays a gossamer delicacy that needs to be seen to be appreciated. With this graceful offering this artist proves again how less can be more. In art works the spaces between are also part of a successful, intentional design, just as the spaces between the words you speak carry their own import. Positive needs Negative to be whole and Chris Buzzini imbues most of his fine work with this simple but profound message.
Okay, Forget Everything We Just Told You!
From the sublimely spare to the strikingly sumptuous; in just two lots! Yes, there is also much to be said for the feeling that this carefully designed celebration (a tired word, we’ll only use it once) of a garden in renaissance brings to your sensibilities. The sensuous curling and folds of the petals combined with a soft spring palette bespeak a limitless fecundity. The six green leaves hosting the design are so deeply rich in hue as to make one think they’ve been recently watered. Here is your garden in a glass. “Enchantment” is a perfect name for this, since “ensorcelled” was claimed by lot 1. And there has been no more dedicated an artist that Rick Ayotte, who spent so much time studying nature firsthand, that the family filed a missing persons report each morning to get him home for supper.
Think of It As a Visual Vitamin for the Soul.
Not only do good things come in small packages—some of the best things do also. Such is the case at hand. This modest at a glance little offering, half-hidden in our display, nonetheless catches our eyes every time we walk past. A compact ode to life that punches above its weight, as they say. Meticulous variegation in the lifelike leaves embracing incredibly subtle gradations on the berries. This is so well and lovingly done we should be allowed to sell each berry separately, but management says no, if you win the lot, you get the entire cluster!
“Who can turn the world on with her smile…?”
10 points if you caught that. That’s right. If you peer closely into this joyful tale of a young woman coming into her own as she’s coming into the big city, you can almost imagine the hint of a smile on her face while she strides triumphantly through her new home. You can see the auction catalogue for an explanation of the biblical labor that brought this uplifting little biographical profile into being. We’ll say here though, that the trees in spring flush and the light-catching crystal ground rising to meet her all serve well to create a sense of fine storytelling supported additionally by the stylish painting of the happy-to-see-her city. She’s got this hands down. After you scan left on the lot 120 to see the extra photos, feel free to ask for even more details; this work offers a multitude of different visuals. And with this work of glass art (7 layers) behind you, “You might just make it after all…!”
Overwhelmed Yet By All This Happiness?
Clearly spring is coming. This bulbous beauty is another weight that needs to be seen in order to be seen. We mean the leaves on the pansies alone are worth the price of admission. And as nice as our catalogues can be, we can’t always control the look of the final printing. So if you fancy this, please check the online catalogue or call us for extra images that feature the almost iridescent velvet glow of the pansies. Gorgeous. Here Bob has created a design that is stately in its balance and formalism but one that also delights with playful swirls encircling unopened buds and petals on other stems that look to be open almost in laughter! The clear strawberry cut ground brings a sense of movement to perfectly complement the arrangement. This is a mature and confident work.
Too Amazingly Unusual Not to Mention!
Here is another design that begs for multiple images. This twisting, turning, flowering, frightening, incantatory glass artwork that would be at home in the wizard’s chamber in Game of Thrones is somehow also playful. In certain angles with its head bowed and its paws/talons perched like a puppy’s it looks to be waiting for you to throw the ball, or a skull? So there’s something for everyone here, created by a masterful hand. The balance, the harmony between the elements is perfect. Where else will you ever find the most beautifully wrought bell Flowers flowing into the abdomen of a magnificent miniature dragon?
A Classy Piece by a Classic Artist
Ysart’s lively crown cushion also grabbed our attention with its airy flowing ease of motion and direction, as it features a lovely arrangement of delicate flowers with what looks like brushwork from a tiny oil painting palette. There is a lot of motion for the eye to follow, from brushy flowers and delineated stems into the radiating rivers of latticinio. Hey, that’s why it caught our eye; we thought we saw it move!
“We’re Off to See The Wonderful Lizard of OZ!”
Okay, so Kansas isn’t in the UK! This is still a splendid work by Scotland’s own Michael Hunter. We won’t claim this as a piece for the men, but the subject matter, a lizard confidently sitting astride the world in his victorious grasp together with the semi precious silver and gold treasure (captured from the enemy?) enveloping a royal marine blue (or cobalt?) core safely in his clutches resembles more than a few graduation portraits we’ve seen from some of the military academies and business colleges! A perfect graduation gift!
Simply too Wonderful Not to Bring to Your Attention!
We happy to have 18 lovely contemporary Saint Louis weights this time around but since we can’t show them all, this stunning piece won the coin toss. As beautiful as the discipline of mathematics itself, with the most reassuring blue that was ever to infuse a paperweight, this work, just sitting there is the very embodiment of contentment. Let the oceans rise. Let Netflix fail. None of it matters if you have this paperweight at home.
WOW – We lost track of Your Time!!
Okay, you may go home now but we hope you’re excited about just a few of the highlights awaiting your investigation as Auction catalogue 71 begins to wing its way to you. You can also view the auction on our LH Selman site.
As Johnny Carson used to say, “We’re sorry we ran long and couldn’t have Zambor the Magician on tonight, we’ll reschedule…” In our case we’re sorry we didn’t get to pay homage to our Trabuccos, Tarsitanos, Kaziuns, Whitefriars, Lundbergs, Perthshires and a host of other talented performers starring in our upcoming extravaganza, L.H. Selman Auction #71!
Thank you, Goodbye for Now and Drive safely!
Where to begin? We are over the moon with the results of the Glass for Life / Project FIRE Auction, which finds the auctioned artworks en route to new homes as far flung as Japan and England. Over $3700 was raised to support one of the most deserving causes we’ve come across, a cause that has allowed you to combine your love of glass art with a giving heart. In addition to the auction itself, additional monies were sent in simply as checks made out to the effort. We also thank the under-bidders in this auction as well those who purchased works directly from the young artists at the studio during our visit this past September’s “Celebrate the Paperweight!”
Pearl Dick, the glass artist heading Project Fire wrote this in thanks to share with you, “There are no greater gifts you can give a young person who is overcoming adversity in his or her life than self-worth and opportunity. Your generous support promotes healing through art and the possibility of a limitless future. I am so grateful to be a part of this amazing and inspiring community. Please come see us in action in our studio.”
And to cap things off (for now) there is also a sizable donation to Project Fire in the works by an anonymous donor on behalf of the Glass Paperweight Foundation to support a special project helmed by glass artist David Graeber. With this donation Dave will construct a much-needed, permanent flame-working station in their studio, and he will teach the first class using the new equipment this upcoming April! Stay tuned for more details. And thank you again as you make art make a difference!
THE MORE YOU LOOK THE MORE YOU SEE – Sharing a few Eye-Catchers from Our 70th Outing
WHAT?? YOU DIDN’T GET AN IN-PERSON PREVIEW OF AUCTION 70 AT CELEBRATE THE PAPERWEIGHT!!! (what WERE you thinking…?)
Anyway, just to play fair with the rest of you out there, we had to cajole and wrestle a number of weights from the grips of several festival attendees who were trying to convince us to let them buy them on the spot! But they’re all still here, safe and sound and all of you out there have an equal fighting chance for them. Can’t blame them for trying, though – some of these lots are a real steal! So please peruse this little blog and see if you agree with us on our excitement…
Speaking of Stealing, this Clichy Could Have Been in a 1960s Heist Movie with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn!
DROP DEAD GORGEOUS. This is a luxuriant antique glasswork—with brilliantly colored canes basking on a stately carpet of rich, almost breathing green, (as those who saw it can attest). This paperweight is redolent of royalty, like a large emerald, studded with precious gems. Yes, it comes with a stand, but you have to pay for the security systems. Watch out for attractive couples who are really cat burglars…
From the Queen of the Adriatic to the Queen of Greece!
This next offering actually does lay claim to royalty. When Queen Amalia, wife of the King of Greece, visited Venice in 1845, there was a scramble to impress her (…did you like that one?) and to the best of our knowledge she was given the weight that you see here. With its veritable explosion of shapes, colors and images the whole effervescent spirit of Venice is barely contained therein (Franchini pulled out all the stops with every cane) this creation all but bursts from its glass skin. Made to impress, and very successful…
The Year Queens Made Themselves Scarce!
Simply put, the blue carpet ground of this stately arrangement of stars, arrow heads shamrocks and the animal kingdom finished off with an elegant “B 1848”, is like little else. This is not quite a cobalt, navy or royal blue. It is a charming and reassuring blue—beautifully offsetting the elements embedded in its surface. A seriously stunning artwork. You would never guess revolution was in the air – and in the streets. Absolutely ask for extra pictures.
From Queens to Goddesses
Hard to imagine anyone stealing from a goddess but there you have it. The goddess Venus had a mirror. A conniving thief stole it and it wound up shattering on the ground. The shards became bellflowers, which is why this plant is called “Venus’ Looking Glass Flower.” And we swear to goddess this is all true. And here you have a rare and beautifully shaped shard with no sharp edges. It does boast a beautifully balanced design and execution. The star-cut ground does hint nicely at the myth’s origins.
Okay, One More Reference to the Heavens!
Call us sensualists but this sumptuous, softly glowing beauty reminds us of a (very hard) pastel pillow or cushion – restful to the eye, and calling you perchance to dream, not unbefitting the theme of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine. It would look right at home in Caravaggio’s masterful portrait of him. With beautifully designed fluffy ruffles and a serene palette of blues, pinks and whites, we dare you not to feel yourself relax—making this weight a veritable bargain compared to all that blood pressure medicine you will otherwise have to shell out for someday.
And, Back to Royalty!
We’re telling you right now that if you have any pretensions to the throne, you better have one of these in your hand! It’s unusual to feel like bowing and curtseying to a drinking vessel, but this amazing goblet is awe-inspiring. The sensually curved glass settles perfectly into the ornate, finely detailed bronze support and base. You won’t believe the delineation on the glass leaves. Sorry, we only have this single goblet one to offer, but with such an engraved, millefiori-studded and gilded glass treasure filled with fine wine in your hand – who needs friends and guests? Let them eat cake. Please ask for close-ups.
This Has a Provenance that Can Only be Called Royal!
Exceptionally heavy, this stout fellow sports a generous dome, within which is a lushly constructed bouquet protected by a strikingly designed white and amber interlaced torsade. The weight is stunning, with a small, perfect star-cutting to the base. And the unseen detail of this rarity lies in its history—its labels! The labels on the base chronicle its sales history from the historic Maurice Lindon 1957 Sotheby’s auction on through Spink & Son and the Cambridge Paperweight Circle. Ask for a picture of the base. Worth the price for the elegant torsade alone. No, the torsade doesn’t come separately…
Just a brief note to you, gentle reader; the most painful part of this overview is the difficulty in deciding on the relatively few weights we can cover, versus the embarrassment of riches here on the shelves which all deserve! But that’s Life!
When Glass Takes Vitamins
Honestly, this weight just looks sumptuous and healthy. With its red, white and blue signature date cane resting on a lush field of upset muslin amidst a generously spaced array of silhouettes and other designs casually filling an impressive magnum of glass, it can barely be contained in one hand. An exuberant example of a classic.
How Did Queen Cleopatra Die?
Originally we thought it might have been by the poisonous bite of this asp. But then we looked closer and saw that it is not an asp. Neither is it poisonous. As a matter of fact it looks pretty darn friendly. Nice eyes. Playful and well-proportioned body in cheerful, mottled shades of green. This little guy actually has the spirit of a puppy that wants you to throw the ball! And like so many puppies, it needs a home! (Bet you didn’t see that coming.) And unlike a puppy, it will never bite you. Comes with a rocky ground at no extra charge.
My Kingdom for a Rose!
A pentagram has long held mystical notation. The uppermost point is the spirit; the others represent earth, air, fire and water. It’s symbolic, a fitting holistic setting for a perfect rose in a small circular garden, a fine Clichy diamond set in a field of tiny precious stones. The gracefully concave facets invite the hand. Come to think of it, aren’t mushrooms also said to have mystical properties? Rest assured this mushroom will never get you in trouble…
Were YOU Ever a Wallflower? Oh, Get in Line!
Maturity, beauty and rarity – what more could you want? This unusual wallflower with its subtly beautiful petals does indeed need a little room on your table or shelf; do not attempt to affix to a wall as the name implies. With its very well shaped and satisfying design (not to mention the delicate aventurine gloss on the leaves) several of you will likely be asking this glass to the dance…
Crazy & Calm!
This scramble, with all its bright little fireworks and pieces of everything but the Clichy kitchen sink that you’ve come to know and enjoy in these works is special in its internal harmony. The over all effect of this weight is one of balance and order, belying the fact that within is a wild playground for your eyes. There’s a reason the word “paradox” exists…this is one such.
Operate Only From a Sitting Position
We’re only slightly exaggerating! Seriously, this Saint Louis has a wonderfully magnetic pull on the eye. Between the base of the bouquet and the flaring moat of a handsome blue and white torsade is an inviting drop down into Wonderland with Alice. With colorful flowers and millefiori buds, the bouquet lures you over and into a stronger than usual optical joyride that pulls you down the stem and fans out onto a small perfectly proportioned star-cut ground.
And Now on to Some Artists You May Actually have Spoken With!
All the deliciousness of life—supremely crafted, and presented as a lavish handful of nature at full throttle, and completed by a lovingly sculpted, very appealing human face breathing her/him self into existence, while encircled by a wreath of rich green moss. This glasswork is a paean to existence.
Watch Where You Step!
Paperweights possess many qualities; however dramatic tension is not generally one of them. But here, in this offering from James Kontes we have what appears to be an evenly matched rivalry between a salamander and a snake. As they eyeball each other with heads in close proximity there is an air of possible conflict. The match is made more dramatic by the faceting which enhances and multiples their engagement. Or are they two pals who just stopped wrestling because mom called them to dinner? A delightfully designed pair.
Yes, We Know It Won’t Fit on Your Shelf!
This cool, stately bouquet, forever fresh frozen—is quite the elegant addition to your collection. A crossover work, it is also a conversation starter. Elegantly slender with a quietly commanding presence. Ask for more photos. And position this on your table during the hot summer to get psychic relief…
Some People Think Art Should Challenge You; This is for Them!
Our mail carrier thought we were pulling his leg to say that this imposing creature was never alive. We also love excuses to trot out big words such as “Verisimilitude” which is so true of Victor’s work here that it could have been the title of this bad boy. You could put Lot 1 next to this and that would be all the security system you’d need. Be careful, this paperweight eats other weights for breakfast. Seriously, this is a stunning artwork.
A Playground for the Mind on a Summer’s Day!
This is a joyous assemblage of lovely shapes and delightful creatures.Pastel colors find a happy rhythm with the more primary palette that strikes stronger notes here and there. Pure joy, delightfully conceived and executed.
Not Everyone is Waiting for the Holidays!
Growing up is hard, isn’t it? One idol after another falls by the wayside…or slides off the roof! We hear Santa doesn’t drink any more. Problem is – He Doesn’t Drink Any Less, Either! (Thank you, thank you, – we’ll be here five nights – try the pickled herring!)
Where You Get the Staircase is Your Problem!!
We wish you could all really see this one in person. Beautiful and stately, this bright, almost beaming work would anchor any table setting and enhance any collection. The combination of the sparkling orb, perfectly punctuated by beautiful millefiori, gives the sense of an early French Hot Air Balloon, bound to the earth only by the supporting brass basket. The clear glass pedestal joining them gives a hint of lift off.
For Long-Lasting Love!
A graceful, airy and delicate anniversary creation from Saint Louis, created to celebrate their 225th year… Fit right now though, for any occasion, please don’t think you have to wait that long to delight someone with this crystal gem.
How Many Weights Were in That Church, Anyway?
Not that we’re not thrilled with all of them, believe us! They remain among the more sought-after examples of the art form. Counter-intuitively to where the original church weight was discovered however, everyone’s horoscope is now included at no extra charge in the more contemporary iterations offered by Baccarat!
Okay, One More Attempt at Christmas Cheer!
This modest and tasty little concoction says it all…thank you, William.
And thank you for your time, perusing these musings on the final auction before we celebrate our Golden Anniversary! Good Luck to you all and call with any questions or to request extra images of those weights that catch your fancy!
L.H. Selman, Ltd. is very pleased to announce our Fall 2018, Glass Paperweight Auction, featuring 360 lots, antique and modern, as well as choice paperweight-related objects.
Initial Bidding commences Monday, October 15th at 9:00 am CST. Initial bidding ends on Monday, October 29th at 5pm CST by phone, and at 11:59pm CST by Internet. The auction is fully online, hosted on our AUCTION WEBSITE. A web friendly digital e-catalog can be viewed at E-CATALOG, while a printed copy of the catalog is for sale at PRINT-CATALOG. For those of you who have enjoyed watching spin videos of featured pieces, they can be accessed via our YouTube Channel. For highlights on some of the stunning antique and modern lots featured in this auction, click on AUCTION BLOG.
If you see something to your liking, please do not fail to place an initial bid in order to ensure that you have a position in the competitive bidding that follows in the second half of the auction. Competitive bidding begins on Tuesday, October 30th.
We recommend that you give the catalog’s Conditions of Sale a careful examination for a full understanding of the protocols, and please note that we have adjusted the language on our condition statements. A key can be found in the Conditions of Sale on page 66 of the catalog. Please call the gallery with any questions about these changes or the auction format, and don’t forget, we’re always happy to send additional images, videos or condition reports upon request.
You can also make an appointment to see every lot in person at our gallery in Chicago, 410 S. Michigan Ave., suite 207. We would love to see you all in person. (Try to spread it over a couple of days, though!) If you prefer to place any or all bids by phone, or have any questions, just give us a call at 1-800-538-0766.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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!
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!
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.