E-Newsletter : Issue #080 October 2014 – Interview with Alex Bernstein

October 2014

Holsten Galleries newsletter

Note from Kenn Holsten

Greetings! I hope this finds you and your family well. This issue features some wonderful new works by some of my favorite artists and an interview with Asheville artist, Alex Bernstein. I look forward to hearing from you with any questions or comments you may have.

Kenn Holsten


"I wouldn’t change that experience for anything. It was challenging, rewarding and heartbreaking."

– Alex Bernstein
This quote comes from a part of the interview below when I asked him about the three years he spent between college and his MFA work at Rochester working in a psychiatric hospital for young children

INTERVIEW: Alex Bernstein


KH: Alex, I remember showing some of the early glass sculptures of both of your parents, William and Katie Bernstein, back in the 1980’s at my Palm Beach gallery. I assume your interest in glass started by growing up in that family?

AB: Yes. My parents were part of the early studio glass movement. In fact, my father is one of the founding members of the Glass Art Society (GAS), along with Mark Peiser. Our home at Celo Community, North Carolina, is only a few miles away from Penland School of Crafts. I have a photo of me doing flamework at age five and at age 7 I blew my first small piece

Lino Tagliapietra
Royal Point,
25″ x 12″ x 4″

Early Spring Vine
21″ x 12.5″ x 3″

KH: So did you know that you wanted to become a glass artist yourself way back then?

AB: No! Like many children, I wanted to do something totally different than what my parents did and I got my B.A. degree in clinical psychology. At the same time I resumed experimenting with glass and took some classes. When it came time to go to graduate school I had applications for MFA programs and also for Ph.D. programs in clinical psychology. In the end, my passion for art won out and I did my MFA work at Rochester Institute of Technology.


KH: Tell me about this new piece, "Twilight Half Moon."

AB: This piece is one of my favorites in quite some time. I think that the steel work combines with the glass in a really beautiful way. The piece is somewhat narrative in the sense that it has an abstract landscape quality. I like to hint at the landscape reference but also to leave the interpretation up to the viewer. To me this piece is like mountain peaks that are reaching up to the sky and the central burst or spark of color might be a single colorful tree. But many people would see this type of piece as an underwater scene. Either interpretation works for me.

Lino Tagliapietra
Twilight Half Moon,
10″ x 17.5″ x 3″

Forest Green Seed Pod,
20" x 7" x 3"

KH: Tell me a little about your technique of combining steel and glass.

AB: It all started in graduate school with a happy accident. I was grinding steel near one of my father’s glass sculptures and when I was finished I discovered that the sparks of steel had imbedded themselves into the glass. This has led to many years of experimentation and refinement of my process but the basic idea is that sparks of steel near glass fuse with the glass.


KH: Do you have a favorite series?

AB: There are many of my past series that still intrigue me but this recent direction with the semi-circular horizontal format is what most interests me at this time.

KH: I know that you like to travel. What is your most memorable trip?

AB: I would have to say that the trip my wife Jessica and I took to Korea to visit her father while he was living there really stands out for me.

Lino Tagliapietra
Electric Mountain

20" x 7" x 3″

Tall Orange Vine,
23.5" x 7" x 2"

KH: What was your favorite part?

AB: In all honesty, the food! I particularly love the way the Koreans take so much time and care about the quality of the food they prepare. There is also a lot of ceremony around food preparation and eating. The people in Korea are so gracious and hospitable. Everywhere we went people were kind and helpful.
And in all of the lectures I gave at various universities there people expressed so much appreciation and excitement about my being there.


KH: Name your favorite artist or artists outside of glass:

AB: I have been very influenced by some of the seminal sculptors such as Brancusi and David Smith. These days I am very influenced also by music, particularly jazz and bluegrass.

Half Moon

Featured Works:

Dinosaur by Lino Tagliapietra
This new piece from Lino’s signature "Dinosaur" series is shorter than most of the works from that series but no less dramatic in its impact. The form is so graceful and the subtle palette of colors lends it an understated elegance. Both the cane work and the surface cutting of this piece show us once again that it has come from the hands of the Maestro himself.

Lino Tagliapietra
41″ x 18.75″ x 8″

Aria Seed by Nancy Callan,
20″ x 14″ x 8.5″
Aria Seed by Nancy Callan
I was excited to receive this new piece from Nancy just a couple of days ago. While somewhat reminiscent of some of her previous forms, "Aria Seed" is unique in its form. Inspired by Nancy’s keen observation of nature (in this case, a seed), it has the natural flowing quality of almost all truly organic formss.

Sassy Jealous Tickle by Stephen Powell
I am so happy to add another of Stephen Powell’s "Screamer" series to my website. This one is particularly eye catching in its rich combination of colorful murini. The form is both playful and elegant. There are very few glassblowers anywhere who have reached the degree of technical mastery that Stephen has and it shows in every piece that comes out of his studio.

Sassy Jealous Tickle
36.75″ x 25″ x 16″

Dale Chihuly

Many of the previous years’ Studio Editions have now sold out. While all four of the 2013 Editions are still available I wanted to feature them once again. I thought that the variety in colors and forms last year was particularly outstanding.

Saffron Seaform Pair
" wide

Cinnabar Basket
6" high

Brandywine Macchia
11" wide

Chartreuse Persian Pair
11" wide

I hope you have enjoyed this issue of Holsten Galleries News and I look forward to staying in touch. Until next time, be well!

Kenn Holsten

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