With the arrival on Saturday, July 18, of day visitors, the number of attendees at the 2009 GlassWeekend at Wheaton Arts seemed to double. Throughout the day of panel discussions, 16 gallery exhibitors plying their trade, and hot glass demonstrations, the attendance hovered around 300. The event’s organizers, faced with a handful of galleries that pulled out of this year’s exhibition citing the poor economy, made creative use of the available space in the exhibition hall, offering galleries a bonus space to display a single work.
Helping to fill in the empty booth spaces, Wheaton Arts organizers also took the opportunity to present the work of artists who were not represented by any of the exhibiting galleries with a display of their own that included the work of Toots Zynsky, Gianni Toso, and Charles Savoie among others
One dealer specializing in secondary-market sales introduced a novel selling technique tailor-made for leaner times. Uninterested in haggling over every piece, Lewis Wexler of Wexler Galleries, Philadelphia, held a silent auction of several of his pieces for sale. As Wexler explained, it was a new way of handling the negotiating by prospective buyers, and a way to build additional excitement. Since the auction ended on Sunday, there were limited bids by Saturday afternoon but a steady level of interest was evident by the number of visitors to his booth.
The other 15 dealers exhibiting work took a more traditional approach to selling. Though there were many prominent collectors among the attendees, red dots were not easy to find. One dealer, Duane Reede of the Duane Reede Gallery in Saint Louis, Missouri, reported a lot of interest in a new body of work by Jamie Harris. By Saturday afternoon, he had sold three of Harris’s colorful new panels.
Other dealers reported plenty of activity, limited buying, and talked about building relationships and interest among collectors instead of having made many successful sales. Many artists had made the trip to help represent their work, some traveling from as far away as Portland, Oregon, such as Jeremy Lepisto who was on hand at the Thomas R. Riley Gallery booth to help present his latest “Watertower” series that presents his unique illustrations on glass in new forms.
GlassWeekend 2009 included a special retrospective exhibition of the work of Joel Philip Myers, the first time such an exhibition has been presented.
A full day of presentations and demos rounded out the action-packed Saturday. The days events began with a lecture by “collaborating couples” and featured presentations by Sybille Peretti and Stephen Paul Day as well as Kerri Russell-Poole and Marc Petrovic. A quick round-up of other events included:
- “Glass in 2020 – A Gaze into the Crystal Ball” – a Curators’ panel moderated by well-known art critic James Yood. Panelists were: Neil Watson, Executive Director, Katonah Museum of Art, Melissa G. Post, Curator, Museum of Glass, Tacoma, Tina Oldknow, The Corning Museum of Glass, and Andrew Page, Editor of GLASS Magazine.
- “Collectors’ Shopping Spree” - a panel of collectors will “shop” the gallery exhibits, with cameras in hand, to assemble and present a $1,000,000 collection.
- “Who Really Made it?” – a panel of fabricators and assistants who have worked for other artists.
- “Centers of Glass” – a presentation by representatives from the major glass centers in the United States.