By: Aaron Evans
BANG! The starting gun has sounded. The real race has just begun. Ladies and gentlemen, I hope you didnâ€™t place your bets early, for thereâ€™s a new contestant in the competition, and the odds have just been changed. This monthâ€™s featured artisan, Aaron Sokol, isnâ€™t new to the field; in fact, heâ€™s been hiding in the shadows of the packsâ€™ leaders, meticulously plotting this moment for over 8 years, drafting their winds, perfecting his technique, waiting for the perfect moment to take the world by storm. The time has finally come to place his name in the hat and see how far he can go in this rat race alone. If life is the art of war and this is the sprint to reinvent the art form, then this author is placing his chips on the rookie busting from the gates.
Iâ€™ve always liked the underdog, the long shot, but thatâ€™s not even it this time around. Aaron has truly earned this opportunity to shine and seems poised to seize the moment. After all, like I said, itâ€™s not exactly his first time on the track. With a degree in scientific glassblowing from Salem Community College, the only school on the continent to offer such a diploma, and having just completed a 3-year apprenticeship with J.A.G., one of the kings residing at The Glass Palace, and inarguably one of the best pipe makers in the world, it quickly becomes clear why I have such high expectations for Mr. Sokol. But, every story has a beginning, so letâ€™s not get too far ahead of ourselves before we canâ€™t find our way back to where it all started.
Originally from Vermont, Aaron, like all true artisans, had a rebellious spirit since his inception and was thrown out of school for the first time in the 7th grade. I can tell you with certainty that it wasnâ€™t because he wasnâ€™t smart. The problem was that he was too smart, and, once again, a trait seen in almost all great artists. Around this period, a local bead maker named Karol Shirver took Aaronâ€™s misunderstood genius under her wing and introduced him to the basics of torchworking. Yet, unbeknownst to her, at only 16, he began making pipes at another studio, putting a steady cash flow in his pockets by slanging old school spoons to local shops. But this financial stability was short lived, as he saw his profit margins drop over 75% as mass produced glass from India and China were introduced. Like everythingÂ else in our country, hisÂ job had been outsourced. So, back to school it was.
Now Iâ€™m not going to talk about scientific glassblowing too much because, well, itâ€™s boring. I have the upmost respect for the skill taken to make lab beakers and designs for crazy experiments for scientists, but in my eyes, it lacks an artistâ€™s edge. Thereâ€™s just no pizzazz. I will mention that Aaron received a full scholarship based on his badass, inherent talent, but itâ€™s really no surprise that his spirit was discontent in a world with a (pun intended) glass ceiling. Making, at best, a middle class living working for a university simply wasnâ€™t going to fly. See, we artists like to dream.
At this juncture is when he originally connected with The Glass Palace shop mates J.A.G. and JOP, finally giving him anarchist companions in pushing the boundaries of glass sculpting. However, the pipe cultureâ€™s economic downfall had still to manifest a solution to the flood ofÂ overseas glass; once again, back to school it was.
This time he studied mechanical engineering management where he was an A+ student, which is the only thing I can think of thatâ€™s MORE boring than scientific glassblowing. Just saying it out loud makes my mind go a little numb. Straight up, this would be the one angle of Aaronâ€™s life I didnâ€™t understand. I guess he just thought if he had stable work, he could make his art on the side and not have to stress the daily grind. But thatâ€™s not how this story ends; it wouldnâ€™t be a great story, and then I tell you this race will be epic.
Three and a half years into his studies fate called and J.A.G. was on the other end of the line. He had just returned from C.H.A.M.P.S, the industryâ€™s largest glass trade show, and had seemingly done the impossible; he made enough money that tangible financial stability was finally within grasp. In a moment, Aaron flashed forward in his mind thirty years, visualizing a life of drudgery chained to a desk. The decision was clear, accept J.A.G.â€™s offer, move to Cali, and finally pursue his true passion, pipemaking.
The plan was set, grind around the clock in preparation for the next big show, as to secure the funds to facilitate the move, and then take a leap of faith. Seeing that Aaron is an avid skydiver with over 100 solo jumps under his belt, itâ€™s no surprise that when he did leap, he leaped head first, fully focused and prepared to soar. Now, only one year after touching down in SoCal, heâ€™s setting out into the spotlight. I tell you, if this is his first step out of the gates, then the rest of the field better have been upping their workout regimen. Aaronâ€™s going in hard and I can hardly wait to see what the future holds for this master in the making.
What I havenâ€™t told you yet is that Iâ€™ve had a little secret, but I love my NUG F.A.M. so much that Iâ€™m going to share. This stunning, dazzling display of artistry youâ€™re currently staring at, drooling over its clean lines and golden highlights; itâ€™s playful, yet classic and timeless and has never been seen by ANYONE, ANYWHERE.
The large piece youâ€™re staring at is titled â€œWar Economyâ€ and is the debut piece in Aaronâ€™s Japanese Rock Garden series. Inviting the smoker into his world and asking for their participation in its artistic completion is something quite unique and unlike anything Iâ€™ve seen within the glass culture. If pipes are considered functional art, then I would have to say this is functional, functional art. Viewing the Japanese Rock Garden and getting lifted, both ritualistic and meditative, the marriage of the two seemed natural and obvious to Aaron. Itâ€™s so simplistic in its truth, but often, lifeâ€™s most beautiful things are just that, simple and true. Even at the most basic level the two mediums are married, as both glass and sand are silicate and, thus, molecularly identical. What more can I say, thatâ€™s just some next level shit.
The grenades in the sand represent our constant â€œmilitary expenditureâ€ and our â€œsystem of bondageâ€ while the corn represents our â€œagricultural expendituresâ€, notating the â€œalteringâ€ and â€œsubsidizingâ€ of crops here in America, asking the patient to ponder these subjects in their daily reflections. I told ya, Aaron was one smart cookie. Each piece in this series will be one of a kind with different marbles, glass stones, and miniature sculptures deciding the theme. Aaron is still fully conceptualizing, yet, Iâ€™m sure all further commentary made will be thought provoking and pertinent.
Next, letâ€™s look at the â€œReality TVâ€ line. Iâ€™ve stated in past articles that I believe our whole world has become voyeuristic. We each love peering into each otherâ€™s lives and this series falls right in line with those beliefs. You can literally watch your fellow patientsâ€™ smoking experience in real life 3D. One thing I really like about these slides is that they are perfectly designed for a Cali snapper, and when I used it, one hit put my mind at ease. His tank logo overlaid in gold makes these pieces just gangster, which is exactly what I said the first time I saw them.
The last line heâ€™s introducing returns to the same lane as the Rock Gardens, bringing an Asian flare with inscriptions from â€œThe Art of Warâ€ overlaid, once again, in gold. Oh, did I forget to mention that itâ€™s real gold; not gold paint, but real gold precisely laid on top and then affixed in the kiln during the cooling process. Yeah, Iâ€™d say â€œgangsterâ€ is the right word to use for this catâ€™s art, but Iâ€™m talking old school ancient gangster, back when war was sacred. In todayâ€™s current world, it may be wise to remember lost lessons. I know the tiny scroll that rolled into my submission box as I was getting ready to leave the shop certainly did. Telling me once again never to underestimate my opponent and that a man who rushes forth doing so is sure to be captured. Having patience and waiting for reinforcement is the path of the enlightened warrior.
All the pieces hit incredibly smooth and the red embers of my Yoda O.G. glowed like the fiery breath of a dragon reflecting against the silky black sides of the â€œArt of Warâ€ spoon he gave me. This feature intently drew my eye in and gives his work a signature style.
Aaron Sokol isnâ€™t leaping out of the box; heâ€™s obliterating it right from the beginning. He should be. If Iâ€™ve painted this as if Mr. Sokol is the next Zen master to arise from the â€œPhilly Glass Movementâ€, itâ€™s because he undeniably is. He not only fully credits his shopmates at the Glass Palace, J.A.G. and JOP, but he also gives credit to fellow Philadelphia glass gurus SLINGER and SNIC for their influence and inspiration along the way. The reason I believe in Aaron Sokol so much is that I can directly relate to being the next to bloom in a long legacy of greatness. The pressure it lays upon your shoulders is incredible, but when harnessed correctly with meditations, like yoga and inner meditation, it can catapult you to the front of the pack and beyond. As both a writer and musician, Iâ€™ve grown up in the legacy of hip hop legends like RJD2, Blueprint, Illogic, Copywright, Rashad, and many others being from the musical hotbed of Columbus, Ohio. I know Aaronâ€™sÂ story oh so well. In fact, Iâ€™ll admit that several times while writing this, Iâ€™ve seen our stories overlap our paths to 2012 and our moment to shine as solo artists. Aaron Sokol has been blessed as I know Iâ€™ve been blessed. And moving forward into 2012, I believe itâ€™s important that we all remember that weâ€™ve each been blessed if we hope to manifest our collective dreams. The future is now, and with artists like Mr. Sokol, myself, and a million other brilliant stars standing beside us, our worldâ€™s future is surely bright. This story is epic because this race is just beginning and itâ€™s in all of our hands to make sure the race ends in our favor. To keep up with Mr. Sokolâ€™s role and progression in the culture, visit him on Facebook at Young Sokie or drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a thank you to NUG, our many loyal readers across the world, my amazing fans, The Green Brothers and Dove Ink F.A.M, Mr. Sokol, J.A.G., JOP, CREEP, RYNO, MAXIMUS, CHAD G and YOU, I would like to take this moment to announce the release and FREE DOWNLOAD of my debut single as a solo musician, â€œIâ€™ve Been Blessedâ€ by Aaron Evans.Â Now available at www.aaronevansimagination.com.
I told you our paths crossed quite a bit. Till next time, keep the fire burning. You know I will.