by Kim Carpenter/ photos by minorwhitestudios.com
The Encounter, November/December 2009
Hot Shops’ Studio 105 may have only 700 square feet, but it is filled with art that is deceptively delicate as well as stunningly colorful. That is because artist Gerry Klein creates glass works that feature deep, rich hues as well as complex patterns ranging from geometric crosshatches to lightly lacy swirls.
Originally from New Orleans, Klein was always drawn to visuals that most people see but don’t necessarily notice. For example, when she accompanied her family down the city’s famed St. Charles Avenue to view the annual Christmas decorations, the young girl wasn’t interested in the moving reindeer and twinkling lights. “I was drawn instead to the multicolored lights that would shine through the beveled glass windows and created designs of their own,” reflects Klein. “It fascinated me.”
Decades later, the artist – who has two children and two grandchildren – continues to draw on her childhood ability to see the extraordinary in the quotidian. “Everyday things you see, like when you go for a walk and see a rusty, old iron gate, can be an inspiration,” offers Klein. “Patterns are everywhere. It’s just a matter of seeing them.”
Klein translates such patterns into glass, a medium that involves turning something solid into a molten material and then blending, structuring, and molding it into something anew. It’s a challenging process that requires both technical prowess as well as a keen eye for design. To create her work, Klein uses a wide range of techniques, some requiring temperatures as 1700 degrees. For example, one includes using quarter-inch glass strips, which she glues together and wraps with fiber paper to hold them together. Another involves bending fine glass strings over a candle flame, while yet a third combines crushed glass and pebbles of achieve beautifully textured effects. Klein also molds, fuses and even sandblasts some pieces. And for as many techniques and materials exist, there are perhaps even more satisfying results.
“Gerry has an incredible knowledge of her materials and processes,” says painter and friend Jean Mason. “Her fused-glass pieces fascinate me the most – they radiate pure color and light.” And whether it’s an intricate piece of jewelry, a stained glass window, or a curving elongated tray, Mason is struck by Klein’s creations. “Each one is a beautiful composition in a very tiny format,” she observes. “[Gerry] has a way of creating contrast to set off the bright bits of glass.”
Klein elaborates, “Glass is a study in contrasts…it can be opaque or transparent; it can have a smooth surface, or it can be textured, rough, and uneven.” She finds these possibilities endlessly attractive. “Properties of glass allow unlimited combinations and a multitude of options, so I never get bored with it.”
The public, though, doesn’t always view glasswork as an art in its own right, meaning that artists like Klein don’t always receive the attention or accolades they deserve. Says Mason, “Gerry is one of the hardest-working artists I know.” But, adds Klein’s colleague, “She’s in the background of almost every significant art event in the city…she’s highly creative.”
This creativity has been rewarded in a variety of ways. In 1990, the White House Communication Agency commissioned Klein to reproduce a crest for Air Force Wives. Her work has been featured in international publications such as Best Designs Showcase. And just this past October, her work was included in Expressions in Fiber Art exhibition at Hot Shops.
But for Gerry Klein, the greatest reward comes not so much from working with glass as making people happy. Indeed, recent visitors to Hot Shops commented that she has a “happy studio with good vibes.” She reflects, “I simply want them to smile and have them enjoy what they are looking at. And in this respect, the glass artist certainly succeeds.
To view the artist’s work, visit: www.GerryKlein.com
Story and photos by Wendy Barnes
Forget tinsel and the other familiar Christmas tree trappings. Steel, glass, plaster and even Mardi Gras beads served as the elements and ornaments that comprised the artistic trees that comprised the Joslyn’s Christmas art exhibit “Artistree: A Festival of Trees”
Thirty-one artists created the 27 sculptures of the exhibit, which was displayed in the museum’s atrium through Dec. 12th. Height of the trees varied from one foot to as tall as 15 feet.
A preview party was held in the museum’s fountain court in November to celebrate the exhibit and the participating artists.
Proceeds from the purchase of the trees went toward the Joslyn’s educational programs.
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
For some ideas on how to decorate your Christmas tree this year, head over to Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha to enjoy their newest exhibit.
“Artistree: A Festival of Trees” is a dazzling collection of tree sculptures – 27 sculptures to be exact – created by 31 area artists.
Available for viewing in the atrium and fountain court, the trees range in size anywhere from 1 foot to more than 15 feet.
The display opens publicly today and will continue through Dec. 12. The display features magnificent and charming trees made out of materials such as glass, paper, clay, metal and weathered redwood fencing. The trees are just that – artists’ creative interpretation of a tree.
“They’re not all holiday-themed. It’s just more of what has inspired them,” Director of Marketing and Public Events Linda Rajcevich said.
To get an idea of what some of the trees’ concept designs are, a few of the titles are: “Glisten and Glow” with surface bonding cement on steel re-bar armature, “Kaleidoscopictree” with hand-blown marble and a special mirror system, “Desert Christmas” with copper cable and fused glass and “The Spirit That Inspires Us” with Styrofoam board, fancy trim and an assortment of other beads and buttons.
Nothing like this has been done before at the Joslyn.
“First of all, it’s a unique event in which you have area artist creating their interpretation of a tree, and it’s an additional fun thing to do over the holidays,” Rajcevich said. “And you might find it’s something you might enjoy (at) your home.”
People who attended Thursday night’s special Treeview event were able to bid on the trees through silent auction. Sculptures that did not sell Thursday will remain for sale through Dec. 12. All purchased trees will be available for pick up on Dec. 13. Artists will receive one-third of their work’s purchase price, and two-thirds of the proceeds will benefit Joslyn’s educational programs.
By Theresa Valentine, Master Gardener
Master Gardeners’ Roots & Shoots
Douglas/Sarpy County Extension
Dec 2003, Vol. 8 No 12
Those who visited Darlene Gordon’s garden during the MG Garden Walk last August might remember that she arranged a little contest. The most observant visitor to her place won a lovely stained glass butterfly that was donated by local artist Gerry Klein. I am always drawn to butterflies and was impressed with the quality of the prize, so I decided to get to know the artist; you might enjoy meeting her too.
Gerry is a “new” Master Gardener, having participated in the class and completed her volunteer hours, working in the gardens at the zoo in 2003. Her interesting gardening was sparked when she was a child helping in her mother’s flower beds. Her own gardening experiences began long ago when she discovered how relaxing it was just to be out “digging and moving things around.”
Growing up in New Orleans, she was enchanted with the many beveled and stained glass windows and doors. Her interest led her to take an art glass class in 1979 and she has been designing and fabricating stained glass artwork ever since. In order to achieve the effect she was looking for in some of her designs, she studied the techniques of sandblasting and fusing the glass.
As a stay-at-home mom for many years, working in glass was a hobby. After a divorce, she realized that her resume was a little thin and that the only “job” she was qualified for was likely to be a minimum wage position. It was then that she decided to take the plunge and work for herself, doing the things she loved to do. Her business is Gerry’s Glass Garden. The name is an expression of the two things she enjoys most – working with glass and digging in the dirt. As you look at examples of Gerry’s work, you can see that many of her award-winning designs were inspired by flowers and nature. Several designs have been published in books that are distributed internationally. Her creations include stained glass windows and panels, as well as sun catchers, night lights and garden stones. She also designs and creates jewelry from glass and makes lamps, kaleidoscopes, and other three dimensional pieces. She was recently honored by a commission from the White House Communication Agency to reproduce a newly approved crest dedicated to Air Force Wives (see below.) You can see her work at the Passageway Art Gallery in the Old Market, where she has been a partner for the past twelve years, and also at her recently opened studio in the Hot Shops.
Gerry is one busy gal. In addition to her business, she is a judge for state-wide stained glass competitions. Recently, she has taken up glass blowing and spends some time perfecting those skills in a studio at the Hot Shops. In 2002, she completed a degree in Human Services “just because I wanted that piece of paper that said I had graduated from college.” Along the way to that degree, she studied a variety of subjects, including classes in construction so that she would be able to manage home repairs on her own. In fact, she recently put this to good use repairing some termite damage at her home. Gerry also utilized those construction skills volunteering with the Appalachian Construction Crew, a program similar to Habitat for Humanity, associated with her church. This summer she traveled to Kentucky with the group and was put to work on the roofing team.
She became interested in the Master Gardener program after taking some horticulture classes at Metropolitan Community College. At home she maintains a perennial border that surrounds her small shady yard, generously spacing annuals throughout the border for blooms and color. Her yard includes two ponds connected by a stream. She had someone install a pond. When it was finished, there was a fairly large piece of liner material left over. Being a “can do” kind of person, Gerry used the leftovers to construct a second, smaller pond and joined them with a stream. The environment she has created attracts a lot of birds and wildlife, including a squirrel that she hand feeds. It also provides a perfect spot for relaxing, thinking and studying.
Gerry has a large collection of houseplants and tropicals which spend the summer on her patio. She often can’t resist adding a new plant or two. The collection has grown – this fall she brought in about 100 pots. These spend the winter in whatever indoor spaces have enough light. They are kept company by three koi from the ponds that spend their winter snug and warm in an aquarium.
When asked what aspects of the MG program she enjoys most, Gerry talks about the people – how willing everyone is to share their talent, experience and knowledge with others.