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The possibilities of glass and steel

Celebrated metal artist Albert Paley brings mixed-media sculptures to Museum of Glass

“Arc,” a sculpture made of cast glass and stainless steel, is one of 29 works featured in the Museum of Glass’ new “Complementary Contrasts: The Glass and Steel Sculptures of Albert Paley” exhibit. Photo credit: Chuck Lysen, courtesy of Albert Paley

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Since the Museum of Glass opened in Tacoma in 1992, it has brought cutting-edge, contemporary art to audiences each year. The museum's tilted, steel and glass cone has even become a symbol of creativity as artists collaborate in the glassblowing studio beneath it and audiences look-on nearby. The museum draws people in, and this fall's new mixed-media exhibit, "Complementary Contrasts: The Glass and Steel Sculptures of Albert Paley," is no exception. 

"'Complementary Contrasts showcases the possibilities of glass, both as a sculptural material and a medium in contemporary art," said Jana Marcella, director of communications at Museum of Glass (MOG). "Paley's abstract sculptures truly illustrate how to use glass in an innovative way."

Paley's "Complementary Contrasts" exhibit, which opened earlier this month, is the American artist's first exhibit offering a comprehensive look at his combined glass and steel sculptures. Paley is a prominent metal sculptor based out of Rochester, New York. He's known for creating innovative, large-scale metal sculptures with nods to the human presence in natural and built environments. His work is highly celebrated around the world and is often noted for blurring the line between sculptures and architecture.

"'Complementary Contrasts is the celebration of nearly 20 years of Paley's exploration and experimentation of sculpting with metal and glass," said MOG curator Katie Buckingham. "This journey has resulted in an innovative body of work which plays off the energetic similarities and dynamic contrasts of glass and steel."

Paley's exhibit is made up of 29 works of glass art that span two MOG galleries. It includes pieces created during the artist's two previous residencies at the museum's Hot Shop glassblowing studio, as well as additional works from Paley Studios' archives. The exhibit will run until September 2018.

"We have an integral relationship with Albert Paley, which has enabled us to support him as he continues to develop this body of work," said Marcella. "This exhibition was seven years in the making and ... it's with excitement that we bring the artistic process full-circle and see how the metal in each sculpture evolved to complement the glass created in MOG's Hot Shop."

Since Paley started working with glass in the 1960s, he has created over 100 glass sculptures and collaborated with celebrated glass artists Martin Blank and Dante Marioni. He is the first metal sculptor to have received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

Paley's creative body of work includes jewelry, functional metalworks (furniture, gates, lamps, tables, etc.) free-standing sculptures and architectural pieces. He holds a BFA in sculpting and an MFA in goldsmithing from Temple University in Philadelphia. Over the last 20 years, he has held residencies at the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York, Museum of Glass in Tacoma and Pilchuck Glass School in Rochester, New York.

"This exhibition is a unique opportunity to view the work of this internationally acclaimed artist in our region, as there is only one Albert Paley sculpture in the Northwest," said Marcella.

"Complementary Contrasts: The Glass and Steel Sculptures of Albert Paley," 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday-Saturday; noon-5 p.m., Sunday, through Sept. 3, 2018, Museum of Glass, 1801 Dock St., Tacoma, $5-15, 866.468.7386, museumofglass.org 

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