With the rise in popularity of glass pipes over the past decade, there has emerged a movement of glass artists that use the form and function of pipes as a vehicle for their vision. This contemporary art form has evolved far past the role of paraphernalia into a complex and visionary movement. As a result, the shift from displaying glass pipes in head shops to exhibiting in galleries is becoming a regular occurrence. In 2003, glass artist Gasp curated the first ever gallery exhibit of glass pipe art because the momentum of the movement impressed him. ?Headpiece: The Art of Glass Pipes? took place in San Francisco just a few weeks after the US Federal Government launched ?Operation Pipedreams?, shutting down major paraphernalia manufacturers.
Although this emerging art movement centers on the pipe, the function of the piece is often outweighed by the artistry and technical craftsmanship involved. To put it simply, there is a huge difference bet ween mass-produced pipes and one-of-a-kind, signed artisan creations ? just like a piece from any high-end fashion designer?s official collection. Many artists don?t produce pieces for any other reason than for art purposes. Unfortunately, when glass art can be used as functional pipes, the shadow of the law is cast over a whole niche group of artists, keeping them out of the mainstream and essentially making them criminals. With a considerable grey area existing as to what is legal concerning pipes in the United States, most companies have traditionally labeled their wares ?for tobacco use only?.
It?s more important than ever to present these pieces in the setting of a gallery in order to establish in the public?s eye that these pipes are, in fact, works of art. If these pieces are merely ?pot paraphernalia?, then why would artists spend days ? and even weeks ? worth of time on one piece, which could sell for thousands of dollars? Glass art should be well lit on pedestals with title and artist tags at professionally promoted and organized gallery opening parties.
On March 25th 2006, the Last Stop Smoke Shop in Seattle, Washington hosted a glass pipe art show at the 5th Avenue Glass Studio. The night included an exhibition of pipe art, flame and pedestals with title and artist tags at professionally promoted and organized gallery opening parties.
On March 25th 2006, the Last Stop Smoke Shop in Seattle, Washington hosted a glass pipe art show at the 5th Avenue Glass Studio. The night included an exhibition of pipe art, flame and furnace glass-making demonstrations, and live music performances. Most of the artists were on hand, and the gallery reached maximum capacity over the course of the night as patrons buzzed between the art, live demos, and party.
Seattle is notorious as a Mecca for innovative glass pipe artists, and some of the most talented locals were in attendance. Ease was on hand with some very impressive technical pieces, and made a dichroic cane tube during the demos. Pakoh featured one of his urinal bubblers, part of his series paying homage to Marcel DuChamp and playing on the pipe pun by adding tiny plumbing pipes to a smoking device. Heading off on his own tangents by combining pipes, art, and pop culture, this piece represents Pakoh?s unique conceptual style.
Bryan Dosher was in the house doing some torch demos. He had some great pieces in his signature ?doshworld? style including a very sexy His-and- Hers piece, which featured two pipes welded together side by side with the stem of one piece penetrating the donut in the stem of the other. The chunkiest piece award goes to Max Polin. His amazing works include striking color and his signature lightning bolt attachments. Even though the double bubbler he had in the show is small by his standards, with the amount of thick chunky attachments and marbles it must have weighed a ton. That?s why they call him ?Big Max?.
There was no shortage of sculptural pieces on hand. Amber Pelligrini?s latest work, a solid cobalt woman lying down smoking a hookah, was phenomenal. She?s renowned for her amazing sculpting skills and creative risk-taking. Bearclaw represented the Midwest with a couple pieces, including one of his recent works entitled ?The Weary Traveler?. When I asked Bearclaw to elaborate on the piece he said, ?It?s a physical manifestation of a constant struggle, an expression of being dissatisfied with myself, the industry, the medium ? yet, it?s a constant struggle that I continuously defeat. A complete reflection of one side of me: discouraged, defeated, challenged, overcome in the creation of the piece. It?s a self portrait.?
Nick Ashman showcased a couple of his Asian-themed pieces and did some demos, creating a figure-eight penetrated donut. His technique is pretty slick with incredible attention to detail.
The Last Stop Smoke Shop?s exhibit was a huge success, and they plan to sponsor an annual glass pipe art show. To see more examples of these and other glass works, visit www.glasspipes.org online. It?s a great resource with over 60,000 pictures and more than 700 profiled glass artists.