In this age of over exaggerated expressions of excellence, the term "maestro" is often overused. The reality is, in a lifetime, you and I should consider ourselves extremely lucky to experience the craft of a true maestro. Luckily, I have had a few: Pavarotti (opera), Yo Yo Ma (cello), Dean Smith (coach), Michael Phelps (swimming), and Michael Jordan (basketball). Recently, I added one more maestro to my list: Lino Tagliapietra.
During a weekend trip to Washington, DC, Laura and I did what we always do when we are in DC – we dropped into the Renwick Gallery (of the Smithsonian American Art Museum). Through January 11, 2009, the Renwick is featuring an exhibition titled Lino Tagliapietra in Retrospect: A Modern Renaissance in Glass. This exhibition of 140 individual pieces and sculptures blew my socks off.
My first introduction to Lino's work was nearly 20 years ago - back when he worked with Dale Chihuly in Seattle (writer's note: in my mind, Lino was the skill that made Chihuly what he is now). It has been a treat to follow his career and watch Lino take his mastery of Venetian glass-blowing techniques to new heights. Despite being rooted in the traditions of Murano glassworks, the inventiveness of Lino's work keeps it relevant to contemporary aesthetics. It wows me every time.
I highly recommend you to see this show (or, at the least, enjoy this slideshow of the exhibition). However, be warned... After experiencing the breadth and unabashed beauty of Lino's exquisite handwork, you will likely be spoiled for all other high-end glass art.
Images: Left, Mandara (2006); Right, Nubia (2000). Both photos by Russell Johnson.