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Featured artist in Oregon loves glass Special

By Scott Ungerecht     Jun 20, 2011 in Entertainment
Baker City - Friday, June 3, 2011 - Glass blower & artist John Nelson traveled 300 miles from Portland, Oregon to display his beautiful exhibit of glass art at the Crossroads Art Center in Baker City. After all, it was a big moment for him.
He had been selected as a First Friday featured artist, and his opening show was on Friday, June 3rd.
John's exhibit was combined with a photo exhibit from Baker City photographer Megan Dorrah. Megan was also a First Friday featured artist as well. The convergence of the two exhibits under one roof created a spectacular display for visitors.
When I first met John during his opening show, I noticed how relax and comfortable he felt while waiting for the crowds to arrive at Crossroads. This was not his first public exhibit. I then asked John if I could take some pictures of him and his exhibit for my news website. John gave me his permission and I started snapping away with my digital camera.
Although a little shy when standing in front of a camera, John felt at home talking about his art to interested visitors. A few people approached John and started asking him questions about his work. John smiled and pointed to some of his art pieces while explaining how & why he created them.
John is as much a philosopher about his art as he is an experienced guide in the world of blowing glass and how to fuse them together with metal objects. He truly understands the process of exploration and discovery, including what it means to seek new horizons.
Never showing a desire to choose a readily recognizable style and stay with it, the work of John Nelson exemplifies unique beauty, amazing talent, and the process of creating something special from what John refers to as a gift from the universe.
Last week I had an opportunity to email John some questions about his experience as a featured artist at Crossroads. Below are his answers. Also, if you would like to see a slide show video of my pictures of John Nelson and his exhibit, please click here.
SCOTT: How did you feel during your opening show at Crossroads? Did you expect anything from the crowd?
JOHN: How did I feel? Not nervous. I've hosted 5 annual Christmas Shows and 3 Open Studio Tours at my home gallery. I just focus on being myself, meeting the visitors, and enjoying the moment.
The crowd? No clear expectation - thought maybe a good turnout because I shared the show with Megan Dorrah who has local roots. Expectations can get "tricky" and backfire. For me, just remaining open to the moment works far better.
SCOTT: What did you hope to accomplish during your opening?
JOHN: I wanted a chance to share my work with more people & get feedback/response to my work, like which pieces they were particularly drawn to. Would the cast glass pieces with rusted found objects (many found in the area) have local appeal? Also to be more visible.
It's only recently that I've moved from "always wanting to be an artist" to accepting that I am one. For me that means allowing my work to be shared.
The inspiration for the pieces I've created comes to me as a gift from the universe. Being willing to share them is important to completing the cycle. On a purely pragmatic level, being part of this show will have future value, hopefully leading to more opportunities.
SCOTT: Was this your first exhibition in Baker City? If so, was it enjoyable and did you have fun?
JOHN: Yes, this was my first exhibition in Baker City and it was fun. I enjoyed working with Crossroads staff members Cynthia Newman and Ginger Savage while setting up the show.
I enjoyed the "road trip" & another chance to spend some time in Baker City, stay at the Geiser Grand Hotel, experience the grandeur of the land around me, and meet wonderful people.
I enjoyed meeting and working with Megan Dorrah. I liked the interplay between her photos and my glass and the serendipitous ways they came together.
SCOTT: Why did you choose to have an exhibition at the Crossroads Art Center? Why were you selected as a featured artist?
JOHN: In 2009 I took a road trip through northeastern and central Oregon to look for galleries to show my work. I had several pieces of my work with me, which Ginger Savage, the gallery director, kindly took time to look at.
She encouraged me to submit photos of my work for the gallery committee to consider. I was pleasantly surprised when they invited me to have a show. I can't speak for their reasons, perhaps that my work is somewhat unique. The mix of blown and cast glass and the incorporation of found metal objects which might have local appeal.
SCOTT: Do you have any plans for future shows?
JOHN: Of course I am open to future show opportunities. I do plan to pursue finding more gallery representation beyond the Love Art Gallery in Portland, which currently has some of my pieces on display.
SCOTT: Do you have any new projects or coming events you would like to mention?
JOHN: Nothing specific at the moment. Looking into some leads in the Portland area for funding/support/exposure for "emerging artists". My body of work is a collection of various "series" which evolve/relate/inspire new directions. I look forward to what awaits on the horizon.
SCOTT: Would you recommend Baker City to other artists?
JOHN: Sure! Yes, I am definitely drawn to Baker City. I felt a genuine sense of openness and appreciation for all art forms, and glass art is currently experiencing broad and enthusiastic reception.
SCOTT: Do you have anything else you would like to say?
JOHN: I use to accept the myth that to be a successful artist, the artist must "choose" a readily recognizable style and stay with it. That's not me! I thrive on the process of exploration and discovery and revel in knowing there will always be more to experience. My show at Crossroads clearly exhibits that variety.
It was reassuring that on opening night, visitors seemed to respond to each piece or grouping on individual merit. As the vehicle for bringing the final piece of art into existence, I sense when something special has happened. Sharing my work and experiencing how others respond is especially gratifying.
If you would like to learn more about John Nelson and his work, please visit his website by clicking here.
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