Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Glass Pavilion at The Toledo Museum of Art

My friends from Temple Beth Emeth's Sisterhood recently went on a Sunday afternoon excursion to the Glass Pavilion at The Toledo Museum of Art.  As much as I love art, museums, the women of Sisterhood, and lunch (which preceded our docent-led tour) ...  well, how could I refuse coming along on such a fabulous trip???

I rode with Ruth, Andy and Helaine, who were wonderful companions!  And once we arrived at the museum, we met up with the other 8 members of our group for a lovely lunch in the Cafe.  While many institutions are aware that they have a captive audience in need of sustenance and thus serve less-than-stellar items at exorbitant prices, this menu was filled with wonderful dishes: Italian Chicken Soup and Wholegrain Mustard Chicken Salad (my lunch, pictured above), Smoked Turkey and Brie Wrap with Drunken Fruit, House Smoked Pork and Lentil Salad with Dried Cherries, Oven Roasted Mushroom and Arugula Salad with Crumbled Amish Blue Cheese, and Poached Salmon BLT on Rye with Green Onion Aioli, just to name a few options.  And beautiful glass vases filled with tulips awaited at our table.

After lunch, we walked across from the main building to the Glass Pavilion, an award-winning building that is truly glorious - spacious and filled with light.  We were greeted in the foyer first by a charming host, and then by a gorgeous piece by the artist Dale Chihuly.  This is half of the Campiello del Remer Chandelier #2, one of 14 works Chihuly designed in conjunction with glass workers from the Waterford Crystal Factory for "Chihuly Over Venice" in 1996.  Chihuly subsequently split one of the chandeliers after the installation in Italy, giving one portion to the Kemper Museum in Kansas City while the other came to Toledo.  He and his team rearranged the 243 individual pieces - each with its own intricate cuts - to make the artwork unique to its location.

Our tour was led by the warm and wonderful Brenda Sweeney, who was exceptionally knowledgeable and specifically pointed out some pieces in the collection which had distinctly Jewish history.  She was so sweet that at the end of our visit, Sonny - a 90-year-old Sisterhood dynamo with a radiant smile - even invited her to come up to services at the Temple some time!  They became fast friends.

In the Modern and Contemporary collection, there were some extraordinary pieces, such as the colorful wall-mounted "Vitrana" by Dominick Labino.

But you know my attention was immediately drawn to this charming work by Emily Brock, entitled "The Counterman Diner."   Just look at the minute details, from the straws in a glass to the salt and pepper shakers, from the spatula on the stovetop to ice cubes that fell onto the counter.

In a gallery dedicated to decorative serving pieces, we found this gorgeous vase, created by Norwegian Marius Hammer, who was a contemporary of Fabergé.  However, because of its small size - slightly taller than a champagne flute - there was a consensus that it would make a gorgeous Miriam's Cup at a Passover Seder.

The last piece we saw was so beautiful and extraordinary!  This is "Dress Impression with Train" by Karen LaMonte, who "(probes) the disparity between our natural skin and our social skin, clothing which we use to obscure and conceal, to protect the individual and project a persona."  One of the guards came up to our group to tell us that the process of creating this work involved a live model, 5 hours of body casting, and 24 cans of hair spray to firm up the draped clothing sufficiently for molding.  There is a very clear human form within the fragile glass, and a lovely sense of movement and fluidity despite the solidity of the piece.

Toledo became known as "Glass City" after the  Libbey Glass Company moved there in 1888 and other manufacturers then began working in the area, too.  So it was most fitting that the museum would have an entire pavilion dedicated to the astounding variety of pieces - from ancient bottles to contemporary punch bowls, from painted mirrors to decorative sculptures - displaying the fascinating history and potential of the medium.  If you're ever in the Toledo vicinity, I so highly recommend a visit to this extraordinary place!

After our tour, Ruth, Andy, Helaine and I took a side trip to the Libbey outlet store at Ruth's very wise suggestion, and we were amazed by the array of dishes, glasses, serving ware, and more!  I, of course, saw everything in terms of photo ops; so you'll soon find my red, yellow, and white dishes, not to mention some very simple but festive polka dotted glassware, making appearances here on ye olde blog to serve lots of tasty treats.

The white bowl that my soup was served in at the museum is just one of Libbey's distinctive designs.  I was sorely tempted to buy a few of them, as well as many, many other items ... maybe on another trip.  Yes, there will have to be another trip!  We've already talked about it, since we had so much fun on this adventure.  More glassware, Tony Packo's famous hot dogs and relishes, the Handel's ice cream that another car of Sisterhood members enjoyed while our group was shopping for dishes ... so much more fun - and food! - awaits ... :)


Unknown said...

Wow, some amazing art for sure. I love the diner too.. that's probably my favorite :)

Andrea the Kitchen Witch said...

What a fantastic place!! The dress sculpture is so cool. I'd love to see that museum sometime, glass work is some of my favorite! Excellent food in the cafe, too, wow!

Cranberry Morning said...

I would have been tempted to buy that 'soup bowl' too! How cool is that! And I'm with Jenn, the Counterman Diner is my favorite. Love it!! Sounds like a fabulous time, Mary.

Debra Kapellakis said...

I enjoyed reading and viewing here today.

Chris said...

I'd be so paranoid that I might accidentally knock something over the whole time I was there.

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