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The maestro at work

Lino Tagliapietra in the Museum of Glass Hot Shop.

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Lino Tagliapietra is a glass maestro from the oldest international glass art capital in the world — and no, I don’t mean the upstart glass capital of Tacoma, Wash. I mean Murano, an island off the coast of Venice, Italy, that was a recognized world glass center before the United States was a country.

Americans don’t even have such things as maestros — although we do sometimes use the word as a term of respect. A real maestro in the European tradition is someone who has served an apprenticeship, mastered his craft and taught it to others. Tagliapietra began his glassblowing apprenticeship with Archimede Seguso at the age of 12 and became a maestro at 21. Now 72, he is lauded throughout the world for his skilled craftsmanship and classical design.

Upstart “masters” such as America’s renowned Dale Chihuley have looked up to him as an elder statesman of glass art. And he has long since returned the favor. In 1979 he accepted an invitation from the newly formed Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood to come to America to share his technical expertise with our native glass artists — much to the chagrin of his fellow artists in Murano who did not want him giving away their trade secrets. Since then there has been an ever-expanding mutual influence between Tagliapietra’s traditional art and the more experimental art of the Northwest glass artists.

Tacoma’s Museum of Glass will host Tagliapietra’s first retrospective exhibition beginning Feb. 23. In conjunction with the exhibition, Tagliapietra will come to Tacoma for two five-day visiting artist residencies working in the museum’s Hot Shop Feb. 13-17 and Feb. 27-March 2. He will give a presentation and book signing Sunday, Feb. 24, and Curator Susanne Frantz will lecture on his work Saturday, Feb. 23.

“Lino Tagliapietra is a living legend in the glass community, and we are thrilled to be collaborating with him,” says Museum of Glass director Timothy Close. “The museum facility allows visitors the rare opportunity to not only come and watch Lino at work in the Hot Shop, but then to step into the galleries and see his finished work on display and watch a documentary film or hear a lecture in the theater. This is exactly the type of experience the Museum of Glass wants to provide to our visitors.”

[Museum of Glass, Feb. 13-7 and Feb. 27-March 2, $10, 1801 Dock St., Tacoma, 253.284.4750,]

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