Craig Mitchell Smith’s glass garden includes a bounty of massive dandelions gone to seed, graceful grapevines on bowing arbors, and brilliant fields of poppies and sunflowers. The Lansing, Michigan, artist has been creating floral forms in kilnformed glass since 2006 using revolutionary techniques that have poised him as one of the most innovative kiln glass artists in America today.
Originally a painter, theatrical set designer, home restorer, and flower arranger, Smith followed a random road into fused glassmaking that has now taken him around the world. Entirely self-taught in glass, the artist believes that his eclectic background and skills with stagecraft influence his methods and how he thinks about his current medium. Smith’s aesthetic is decidedly theatrical, his style quite painterly.
Split nearly evenly between private home installations and custom work including chandeliers, Smith’s glass art is displayed at the Canyon Road Contemporary Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico, at galleries in Orlando, Florida, and Minneapolis, Minnesota, and in two galleries in his home state of Michigan. His glass creations range in size from small precious pieces such as an ornament he fabricated for the National Christmas Tree in 2010—a red cardinal in a crystal nest designed to rest on a branch—to large multipiece installations exhibited in botanical gardens.
Imagining himself painting a flower, Smith thinks of cutting glass as brush strokes and of the kiln as a canvas. Self taught in engineering and welding, the artist creates all armatures and frames for his glass flowers. To introduce movement, to allow his glass to be more organic and beautiful, custom-bent stainless steel and molded components are designed to follow the current. With grace and kinetic capability, Smith achieves the loose, organic qualities of living botanicals.
Smith’s artwork has been displayed in locations such as Cooley Gardens and Michigan State University, Lansing, Michigan; Epcot Center at Disney World, Orlando, Florida; the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Chaska, Minnesota; Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha Botanical Center, in Omaha, Nebraska, and many more. His largest show to date took place at the Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis, and was on exhibit through August 2017. The artist designed 30 brand new sculptures for this show at the famed Climatron. Currently, Smith is developing new detailed sculptures including myriad orchids for a future botanical exhibition.
He says: “I don’t want my work to be an exclamation point in the gardens. I want it to be the comma.”
Joseph Cavalieri’s merging of contemporary imagery with the traditional processes of painted stained glass has resulted in a highly recognizable and unforgettable body of work. Using an art form with a powerful spiritual history, the artist pays homage to historic fables, contemporary pop art, and human and architectural icons in autonomous panels that often combine detailed narrative and humor.
Cavalieri’s 2017 solo show at the Ivy Brown Gallery, in Chelsea, NewYork, featured 15 new works portraying personalities such as San Gennaro, Jackie O, Helen Hayes, and a young Ulysses S. Grant, as well as architectural landmarks like the Flat Iron building and the Dakota. His work is part of permanent New York City collections such as that of the Museum of Arts and Design; the Italian American Museum; and the Leslie-Lohman Museum. Cavalieri’s collectors include two Simpson’s writers in Los Angeles, California, and movie director Morgan Spurlock.
In addition to work for gallery exhibitions, Cavalieri creates both private and public commissions. He was selected by The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Arts for Transit department to design a public art installation at the Philipse Manor Train Station in Westchester, New York. Additionally, in October and November 2017, the artist fabricated and installed a six-foot stained glass church window during a two-month residency in Salvador, Brazil. In the last 10 years, Cavalieri has been awarded 15 different art residency programs around the world.
A native New York artist and educator, Cavalieri has taught painting, airbrushing, and printing on stained glass in over 30 different locations including the Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York; Penland School of Crafts, Spruce Pine, North Carolina; and UrbanGlass in Brooklyn, New York. The artist also teaches internationally, including workshops at Lourdes Zenobi Glass Art in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Delhi College of the Arts, India. In 2015 he was invited to be the keynote speaker for the Glass Society of Ireland and National College of Art and Design.