December 2011 Perpetual Motion
By: Aaron Evans
Itâ€™s been said that change is the only constant, and Iâ€™m constantly reminded of this timeless truth. Our universe is dictated by a ballet of billions of molecules all seeking the path with the least resistance. Yet, no matter how fluid and peaceful a stream may appear to be on the surface, itâ€™s almost guaranteed that below in the depths, each dropâ€™s resolve will be tested by boulders, rocks and fallen branches. Our ability to embrace adaption decides how effortlessly we, as individuals, will dance through lifeâ€™s playlist. If change is inevitable, then sitting stagnate, idling in place, is an insult to the progression of the universe.
This month, Perpetual Motion has taken on, yet, another meaning, for Perpetual Motion is in essence a synonym for change. I now see that glass is an ideal metaphor for lifeâ€™s constant twists and turns. Life, like glass, never stops moving and, therefore, never stops changing. True at most times, the change is so finite and methodical that the movement goes unnoticed; but turn up the heat and a frenzy ensues that can either be harnessed as a catalyst to reach new levels of creation, or to incapacitate those unwilling to nurture its raw power and potential.
From the Occupy protests, to the recent federal crackdown on MMJ, to the upcoming calendar year marked by the Mayans as an apocalyptic end of the world as we know it, one thing is for certain; the flame of change is burning bright and the temperature is rising by the minute, and how we respond to the current climate of our world will either usher in a new era of freedom or leave us in ruin.
Fortunately, this monthâ€™s featured blower, Chad G, is a windy city glass wizard who flourishes and thrives off change. Looking at his art, you could almost say that change is his addiction. He even told me that sometimes he wakes up in the middle of the night with a vision for a new piece and canâ€™t sleep until he manifests his idea. While most blowers in the industry focus on 2 to 4 lines at a time, Chad remains unbridled, looking to always keep his creations fresh, innovative and different.
Perusing the pictures on his website www.chadg.net and on GlassPipes.org (Where he is currently a featured artist), you can see for yourself just how many different designs his imagination dreams up. Everything from ice cream cones, potato bugs and lawn mowers, to mountable wall pieces with an almost medieval magical edge incorporated. Weed wackers, building blocks, spaceships, pinecones, and the list goes on and on. If change is a word we must reexamine, then Chadâ€™s art speaks volumes about the benefits of embracing change rather than resisting it.
As previously stated, Chad is a Chicago native with over 15 years as a torch worker under his belt, and believe me, itâ€™s a belt full of notches notating his many accomplishments. On top of being a topic of constant buzz on GlassPipes.org and making appearances at glassblowing conventions around the country, heâ€™s also been featured in Smoked Vol. 2 and had his work displayed at Easy Street Gallery. Yet, outside of being shown the ropes by a dear friend, Joshua, who has since passed onto the next worldâ€™s blessings, Chad is a self-taught artisan who enjoys the freedom allotted to him by managing his own career. Working for yourself and building your own empire is a trait passed down by his father, and this family theme resonates into his present day life where his wife and four children are the central focus of his day-to-day activities. He told me that the constant chaos of conducting and supporting a full household actually fuels his drive, as each day is full of growth, spontaneity and surprise. The change he sees everyday within his kingdom is an ongoing reminder that to stay on top of his industry, he must be ready at a momentâ€™s notice to flip the script and keep moving forward.
I caught up with Chad as he was returning from the GLASSROOTS Art Show, from which he came home sold-out! He told me that this is, hands down, his favorite show of the year, as it captures the energy and vibe of his Midwest upbringing and gives him a chance to reconnect with old friends in the glassblowing community. His voice sparkled as he talked of the Flame Off, a live competition pitting blowers in head-to-head battle. I asked him about the high level of competitiveness amongst his fellow artists, and he told me that he feels the competitive spirit is key in pushing the craft, as a whole, forward. He was also excited to share the news of the debut of Marbel Slingerâ€™s new documentary â€œDegenerate Art,â€ a film about the American glassblowing culture. You can bet your ass Iâ€™ve already taken steps to line up coverage of that in the near future; it sounds amazing.
Without further dilly dallying, letâ€™s dive into talking about his dazzling work and the pieces he created for NUG. Being that change is ever present, this month, letâ€™s start by looking at those sick glass logs seen on the left. I think this little story about their origin exemplifies taking an unwanted or, at the very least, unexpected change and turning it into a positive note. â€œA few years ago, an inland hurricane hit the town where I live. Not many human fatalities, but thousands of trees fell; 106 mph winds average. No power or water for 5 days. All I was doing was cutting and clearing trees. After the power came back on, I decided to just make some things for fun. I felt I should honor the trees that fell…â€ How about that, rather than mourn the loss, he honored what once was and moved forward making each piece a memorial to his tattered friends of the forest. If only we could all have such a positive outlook when confronted with a suddenly contorted reality.
The technique used to create these logs dates back to 16th century Italy; itâ€™s a technique called â€œIncalmoâ€. Incalmo is the process of melting two separate pieces of glass together to create the appearance of a solid structure. Now some of you may think, â€œHow hard can it be to melt two pieces of glass together?â€ And truth be told on a very simple, basic level, itâ€™s not. But to create something with such a seamless flow, both centered and straight, at the connection point is a skill not easily obtained. One slight slip of the hand and the lines at the end of the log would fall off base and the piece would lose its aura of perfection. Iâ€™m absolutely a sucker for anything that resembles pinstripes; and though this pipe has a rustic feel, it also carries a natural eloquence. Next time I have a date with Mother Nature, Iâ€™m bringing this piece along; I think sheâ€™ll be quite impressed.
Using a butter knife to shape out the texture in the bark and sculpt the knots in the wood, each piece embodies fingerprints or snowflakes. Although they may be production line work, each piece has its own subtle individuality. Iâ€™m pretty excited about the little one hitter too. Iâ€™d love to see a park ranger try to find that on the ground next time Iâ€™m out hiking around SoCal. He better have the eyes of a hawk if he thinks heâ€™ll be able to spot this when dropped into its natural environment. Itâ€™s always good to have a toss away piece for travel, and this little dude and I are definitely going on some adventures.
Next, I want to examine Chadâ€™s old school pieces, some of which he creates wall mounts for that add extra flair to the overall presentation. These creations stand on their own as impeccable works of art; but for me, the added touch of the wall mount really sends these pieces into a higher level of orbit. For as much as I love all the sculpting taking place in the culture, itâ€™s nice to see a top shelf blower staying true to glassblowingâ€™s abstract roots. His use of color and patterns is phenomenal, offsetting striking glass stalagmites against smooth areas of transition. I could see one of these pieces hanging on the wall at a recording studio or art lab, as they are just bursting with inspiration.
In closing, I asked Chad about his feelings on why we need to end marijuana prohibition and he offered this: â€œI feel people need natural medicine everywhere. I also think people need to be released from prisons on non-violent marijuana charges. It seems like the government is wasting a lot of peopleâ€™s tax dollars. In general, I feel marijuana does way more good than bad for peopleâ€™s lives.â€ WORD! I couldnâ€™t agree more. The time for change is now!
To keep up with Chad and his ever-evolving creations, stop by his website at www.chadg.net. And if youâ€™re looking for that perfect present for the persnickety loved one on your holiday shopping list, look no further because Chad G has something for everyone! And if you canâ€™t find anything thatâ€™s your cup of tea, wait a day or two; he inevitably will be forging into new horizons of expression and creativity.
With that, itâ€™s a wrap. Iâ€™ll see you all next year for more breathtaking talent here at Perpetual Motion. Till then, keep the fire burning. You know I will.
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