I have ceased to be amazed how paths cross; the world is an ever-shrinking place. I thought the ‘six degrees of separation’ theory was pure bunk! Mere hocus pocus dreamed up by some PhD that could not find a proper job. As I get older I see that the theory is true.
Several years ago a good friend of mine, Los Angeles attorney Mannie Barling and I were chatting about nothing in particular. As I recall I was griping that it was too hot and humid to sit outside and read, and too gloomy inside to read without using artificial lights. He laughed and said he would send me pictures of two windows he had in his home.
To add insult to injury he sent me this one, it shows the light dancing off the walls.
I had once again been Mannied! I loved the windows, they were pure magic. I dropped the subject, beaten and bruised, I moved on.
Recently the subject of the stained glass windows once again came up. I made some fatuous comment that there were no artists in my small town that had the skills to create such splendid work; our most gifted artisan is the guy that cuts our lawn. Mannie took the rebuke in good humor and suggested that I contact Mark Levy, the creator of the windows. I did.
I love stained glass, I always have. I grew up in a small village near Oxford. The one outstanding feature was a small church built hundreds of years previously.
I am not a particularly religious person but I was always in awe when I entered the church. Yes it had the musty smell of age, but it was anything but dark and dingy. It was a celebration of light; it was as if a rainbow had been transported into the building. The reason was because of the stained glass windows. In a strange way, the colors changed by the time of day and the season of the year.
Stained Glass as an art form of pieces of glass combined with lead ‘came’ has changed little from hundreds of years ago. However, the tools that have been adapted to add a whole other realm of fabrication options have been a modern-day wonder. Add to this modern and contemporary design interpretation and you have a traditional art form manifesting in the most current of fashions.
Mark Levy is keeping the tradition of the art form alive. He works with Traditional, Modern and Contemporary designs, and is always keen on expanding the pre-conceptions of the art form. On the phone I asked him if there was a way that he might be able to email pictures of some of his works:
“Well many are available on my web site www.marklevystudio.com There is also a publication of my work “Windows From A different Perspective”
At the mention of a book my ears perked up, I love books. Books (excuse the pun) are windows on the world. Mark was kind enough to send a copy to me. The images are stunning, but even more so is the text.
The book begins with the events of January 19, 1994. In a strange way on that day our worlds collided. We are both into glass, and know that earthquakes don’t mix well with it . My glass was replaceable; it was automotive glass, Windshields etc. Mark’s was not. He lost 20 years of his glass inventory, like a cook losing their recipes. Also a number of completed works were lost.
By 11am that morning I was on route to Los Angeles to see what had happened to my automotive glass. Our main warehouse had been spared. The other locations were not so lucky.
Mark also found destruction. With an important glass show looming, the new works he’d created were causalities . Months of work now were fragmented victims on the floor. A lesser man might have crumbled, not so Mark Levy. He carefully collected these fragments. The sense of a glass graveyard was overwhelming, so he created acrylic “coffins” for each and displayed them with R.I.P. headstones.
What Mark had planned as an act of rebellion against the hand of Mother Nature took a strange twist. The attendees of the art show responded positively to how Mark used the theme of glass graveyard, so much so that the works began to sell very quickly. Only one of the exhibits is still in his possession, the one shown below. He declined to sell it, for “The Northridge Earthquake” had been a watershed moment where personal tragedy inspired creativity in a way that could not have been planned.
He also impressed the judges, leaving the show with a much-coveted award.
Windows From A Different Perspective very much celebrates Mark Levy’s’ work between 1976 and 2001. However Mark does point out that while the basic techniques of producing stained glass have changed very little over the centuries, the art form continues to grow and evolve. The same is true of Marks’ work, with the book offering an engaging look at his journey with the medium.
Books are fine, but could you imagine having this to greet you as you enter or leave your home?
If you love light, color and art, take a look at his website I wish I lived in the Los Angeles area, I would love to see what can be done in Stained Glass by an artist and craftsman like Mark Levy.
Mark has agreed to collaborate with me on some articles exploring the wonderful world of Stained Glass and its continuing evolution as an art form
Stay tuned, for those to start very soon.