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.

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