Galleries — Swan Song for a Glass Virtuoso

William Morris says he has blown his last glass sculpture

The word on the street was true all along. James Yood confirmed it in the summer issue of Glass magazine: William Morris — who parlayed his craft into powerful sculptures of anthropological expressionism and whose Myth, Object, and the Animal exhibition broke attendance records at Palm Springs Art Museum — has retired.

Midlife crisis (he’s 49)? Publicity stunt?

Not so. “Retirement is usually not an option for those who make art,” reports Yood, author of five books on Morris’ work. “More typical is to rip the chisel, blowtorch, or paintbrush out of their cold, dead hands. But Morris is not your typical artist, and when he told friends that he is retiring to immerse himself more fully in the ‘activities and adventures that have fueled (his) art, creativity, and life,’ I am sure he meant it.”

Morris isn’t leaving the desert high and dry. Imago Galleries in Palm Desert opens a show of the artist’s last series of glass sculptures on Nov. 24.

Owner/Director Leisa Austin says Morris is leaving the physically grueling life of contemporary studio glass to spend time spear fishing — a theme that inspired many of his last sculptures. The new works seem to reflect what’s on his mind: fishhooks and traps, lau lau (the Hawaiian dish consisting of taro leaves and salted butterfish), as well as his familiar drums and figures.

Throughout his career, Yood says, “Morris [has been] able to suggest a connection to some universal unconscious, that the forces that moved the ancient Egyptians and Native Americans and the Aztecs are still embedded within us, that we recognize in his work not just what was, but what is, even if we have lost our way more than a bit. Finally, Morris to me was not an animalier, a historicist, or a nostalgist; he was and is a remarkably sensitive humanist.”

The gallery is also featuring constructivist steel sculptures by Fletcher Benton.

Imago Galleries: 776-9890
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Modern Masters Fine Art — One With Nature

It’s hard to believe that Braldt Bralds’ breakout moment came almost 30 years ago — when, on the Dutch artist’s first trip to New York, Time magazine commissioned him to illustrate a cover. The graphic arts education he began in Rotterdam when he was 12 years old paid dividends, as he landed assignments from Esquire, The Atlantic Monthly, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and many other magazines, as well as commissions for advertising campaigns (Grand Marnier, Crabtree & Evelyn) and product packaging (Celestial Seasonings). Now focused on fine art, Bralds executes Realism with a whimsical flair.

In his first exhibition at Modern Masters Fine Art, he’ll show new oil-on-masonite paintings of heart-shaped stones hanging delicately by twine and wire — symbolic of his appreciation of life and nature. 

Modern Masters Fine Art : 340-4869
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The Hart Gallery — A Study in Passion

A student of classical art history and restoration, Sharon Okun is beginning to come into her own as a painter and a sculptor. In her first exhibition at The Hart Gallery on El Paseo (throughout November), the 31-year-old Canadian artist reveals the fruits of her labor while living and working in Florence, Italy, for the past decade. Genre paintings, still lifes, oil portraits, drawings, and sculptures reflect the influence of the Charles Cecil Studio, an art academy with a curriculum modeled on the major realist ateliers of the 19th century, and her apprenticeship in the studio of Richard Serrin, an artist who has spent 50 years studying and teaching based on the techniques of the 16th and 17th century masters.

The Hart Gallery: 346-4243
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Edenhurst Gallery — First Impressions

Early California Desert Painters: 1900-1960 — a group show featuring the finest examples of early California paintings by Jimmy Swinnerton, Paul Grimm, Charles Arthur Fries, Edwin Forker, John William Hilton, and Agnes Pelton — opens Nov. 1 at Edenhurst Gallery. By 1900, Impressionism had become the prevailing style on the East Coast and was beginning to flourish in the West. Many artists seeking fresh sources of inspiration and a healthier climate came to California’s deserts. Their work fueled an existing tradition of plein air, known for its quick, loose brushstrokes and bold color. This treasure trove of an exhibition will be on view through Dec. 31.

Edenhurst Gallery: 346-7900
More information, maps, web site

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