Out of the Fire & the light: The Bowmans in Plano

Out of the Fire
glass artists Jim and Mary Lynn Bowman at the ArtCentre of Planothrough January 18

detail photograph of the optical games Jim Bowman's Opaline Vessel plays with late afternoon light bouncing through it onto the wall behind it and shelf below it JRCphoto
Jim Bowman - Opaline Vessel with projected highlights

I'm prejudiced, of course. I own several Bowman blown glass vases — and I will probably get more. I've been gifting their Christmas ornaments for many years, and I'm entranced by both Bowmans' work. They are friends who used to live down the street. And they are DARts Supporting Members.

The Plano Art Centre is a wonderful place to show paintings, but the staff seems clueless about the special need glass has to for light translucing through the work to be seen in its special glory.

Colorful work but the light on, instead of through
these glass works, renders them sadly lifeless

We came in the back door, and as much as we like Mary Lynn's work, we were disappointed to see it hanging on the wall, where light couldn't get into it for proper viewing.

Making matters worse, many of the wall pieces were mounted on black blocks, further robbing the translucent material of its color.

Mary Lynn's glass pieces look so much better in their natural habitat, with light streaming through it on a light table in their studio (See links below). One each of Mary Lynn's and one Jim's pieces were hung in the centre's windows, and there they look just short of spectacular.

Mary Lynn Bowman- Jacob's Ladder

We especially liked her Big Ole Tangled Up Family, Leaded Tower (on the DARts Cover) and the hinged Jacob's Ladder, which at least was displayed away from the wall, so light could bounce through it.

Jim Bowman - Charcoal Serpentine

Even in the multi-windowed, big front gallery, Jim Bowman's work was displayed as if it were ordinary sculpture, with lights aimed down on the fronts of pieces, deadening the colors and nearly disappearing their translucency.

We were, however, lucky enough to have visited in late afternoon, when setting sun light streamed into the big storefront windows, so we able to see some beautiful — though transitory — effects like the specular projection optics on the wall behind and on the shelf under the piece at the top of this story box. - JR Compton

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