“Randy Strong – Glass Master,” a collection from the artist’s 45-year career in the historic American Art Glass movement, opens on Saturday, July 14, at the Napa Valley Museum.
The opening celebration is 4-6:30 p.m. and is free for museum members, and $10 for non-members.
The exhibit showcases Strong’s work from early groundbreaking glass techniques to his present one-of-a-kind veiled sculptures. Many sculptural works will be available for sale, with a portion of proceeds benefiting the museum’s arts and education programs.
Strong will be at the museum for an artist talk from 2 to 4 pm on Sunday, Aug. 5 and will also participate in a free Family Fun event on Aug. 11, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Strong, an award-winning artist, designer, and master craftsman, has created elegant works in blown glass for more than 40 years in his East Bay studio. Strong’s work, which combines his eye for contemporary design with ancient techniques, has been characterized by the use of challenging techniques, materials, colors, and forms. His latest sculptural work challenges the concept of solid form in glass with lightness and movement that seem to defy gravity.
Before entering the world of glass, Strong worked as an events photographer in the late ‘60s for the Oakland Tribune, and for a brief period worked with photographer Ansel Adams. He studied ceramics at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, where he was mentored by Peter Voulkos.
Upon graduation he received a scholarship to the University of Art in Osaka, Japan as one of the first exchange students between the schools. This grounding in ceramics soon led him into the largely unknown frontier of studio art glass.
As a modern master of this ancient craft, which had all but disappeared in the United States with the advent of mass production, Strong is one of a handful of American glass artists, including Dale Chihuly, who was instrumental in reviving the studio art glass movement. He was with Chihuly in 1970 when Dale and John Hauberg selected the location for the Pilchuck Glass School in Seattle, Wash., which set the modern studio glass movement in motion.
Strong won the juried 2005 and 2008 Niche Award for blown glass awarded by Niche magazine for the best of blown glass in the United States. His glass sculptures have been acquired by international collectors and are a part of collections ranging from the Corning Museum of Glass in New York, to the Louvre Museum in Paris.
“What I love is to see if I can capture the life that glass has when it’s at 2,000 degrees,” Strong said. “In its liquid form, hot and flowing glass is a mesmerizing, crazy and wonderful material. The challenge is to capture the life and energy of its liquid state when it has cooled to a solid form. This is insanely difficult. I’ve always been one to take the hard road. I must love beating my head against that wall because I keep doing it.”
“The best part of glass is the people you meet that make life enjoyable. After 45 years, I still love making glass and dancing to music while working. I still wake up every morning asking myself, ‘What if…’”
“Randy Strong – Glass Master” will be at the Napa Valley Museum Yountville through Aug. 19. The museum at 55 Presidents Circle in Yountville, is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 11 to 4 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for seniors, and free for students, veterans, active duty military and museum members.