Preview: Lino Tagliapietra: The Rainbow Island

  • “Fenice,” by Lino Tagliapietra
By Columbus Alive
From the May 31, 2012 edition

To those in the know, there are two glass artists for whom only one name is required — the Madonna and Gaga of the hot shop, if you will. One is Chihuly, the internationally known Seattle glass artist and Central Ohio favorite. The other is a 78-year-old maestro from Murano, Italy, named Lino.

Lino Tagliapietra is an artist of extraordinary grace, skill and generosity. If you’ve been to the Columbus Museum of Art recently, you may have seen his sublime installation “Endeavor,” which has held a gallery and the combined gaze of thousands since January 2011.

This Saturday, Tagliapietra will make a personal visit to the museum for a public discussion with Executive Director Nannette Maciejunes before introducing a show of new work at Hawk Galleries, which represents the artist locally.

As Dale Chihuly said of Tagliapietra in the short documentary “The Time of Lino,” “As far as I’m concerned, he’s the best glassblower I’ve ever seen. I wouldn’t doubt that he’s the best glassblower that ever was.”

They met in the 1960s while Chihuly, part of the burgeoning glass art movement in the States, was apprenticing in one of Murano’s many glass factories. In the ’70s, after founding Seattle’s Pilchuck School, Chihuly offered Tagliapietra a residency.

There he shared the closely held secrets of Murano’s ancient glassblowing tradition, and to this day he spends as much time in Seattle as immigration law permits. As a result, Tagliapietra has had an immeasurable influence on generations of American glass artists.

Another result, according to gallery owner Tom Hawk: “Back home in Venice, he says he still doesn’t get invited to parties.”

What Tagliapietra misses on the social scene, he makes up for in the studio, creating a dense, diverse collection of simply gorgeous work.

At Hawk, sleek “Endeavor” boat forms and elegant, long-necked creatures with diamond-cut surfaces named “Dinosaur” and “Fenice” are shown with thick, flat wall hangings with deep, translucent blocks of color and fat vessels with dancing cane lines. Teardrop-shaped works dazzle with layers of line and color, but also the tiny, gravity-defying points on which they balance.

“He’s still trying new things at 78,” Hawk said. “He’ll wear a young team out in half a day.”