In 1948 at the age of 7, Irene Frolic arrived in Canada after almost three years in a United Nations refugee camp in Salzburg, Austria. A Jewish child, who had miraculously survived the grimmest of Grimm Fairy tales in the dark heart of Europe, arrived not knowing a word of English into a new world. Trying to make sense of these mysteries remains at the heart of her work in cast glass to this day.
The little Canadian girl grew into a well-educated young woman. Frolic married, travelled the world, had children, and held a good job before discovering glass in her early 40s, inspiring a sea change witnessed in her evolution to becoming an artist. Almost 40 years later, Frolic continues to infuse her cast glass with knowledge, feelings, history and heritage.
Working from her Toronto studio, Frolic has been involved in the international Studio Glass movement, helping to develop the art of kiln cast glass as a material for artistic expression by teaching workshops, lecturing and exhibiting world-wide. Past president of the Glass Art Association of Canada (GAAC), which honored her with a Lifetime Achievement award, she is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Art (RCA). Her work is exhibited internationally and found in many public and private collections, including those of the Museum of Decorative Art, Lausanne, Switzerland, Montreal Museum of Fine Art, Museo del Vidreo, Monterrey, Mexico, and the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery, Waterloo, Ontario.
Glass, which surrounds us in our modern urban landscape, is one of the most ancient, seductive and mysterious of materials. The quest to find a way to use it beyond its easy allure has propelled Frolic and has sustained her 40-year art career. By developing and exploring the emotive qualities of glass as a medium, she has explored her personal history, commented on memory, and mused on the interdependence of beauty and decay.
As the Covid pandemic continues, new sculpture is underway at Frolic’s studio. Her latest work, She Loves Us Still: Earth, addresses humanity’s treatment of our planet and each other. She says: “It goes back to my beginnings and how close I came to be extinguished. On October 13, 1941, in my hometown, Stanislawow, at nine weeks of age I was held in my 18-year-old mother’s arms, at the edge of an enormous hastily dug pit at the Jewish cemetery. I understand it was bitterly cold. The thousands of people herded there were all naked. The shooting continued all day – 12,000 Jewish citizens met their deaths that day. The reason I am still here, approaching my 80th year, is that it got dark…too dark to kill. I am full of anguish about the way we treat each other today. If strangers live among you, love the stranger as yourself and do him no harm. Love the stranger, both within and without.”
Charles Ziegler Lawrence was a man who could have easily held his own in a conversation with the likes of Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, or Hunter S. Thompson. Whether reflecting on his life as a young artist in 1960s Greenwich Village or reliving the making of five windows for the National Cathedral, all of his stories were replete with an equal amount of psychedelic detail. Though the truth of the tale was never in question, the content was unbelievable.
Lawrence seemed as unlikely a candidate for the priesthood as he did for a life dedicated to liturgical art; however both are his truths. Sometimes tragic, sometimes triumphant, the personal history of this “existential iconoclast” blurs the thin line between humor and pathos. His professional success might very well be the reward for having learned how to walk that line.
From his obituary: Lawrence, 83, died on January 1, 2019. He began his career in 1956 as an apprentice to master craftsman Rudolph Henrick Beunz. In the 1960s while attending design school at Pratt Institute, New York City, Lawrence worked in the glass department of the Rambusch Decorating Studio where he perfected skills in glass painting and color selection. In 1968 he went to work for the Willets Stained Glass studio in Chestnut Hill, where he completed prestigious commissions for the National Cathedral, the Temple of the Latter Day Saints, and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, as well as the University of Rochester, and Penn State University. In the 1980s Lawrence established his own studio in Mt. Airy, Philadelphia, completing additional commissions for the National Cathedral, as well as works for the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, St. Mary’s at the Cathedral, Andorra, PA, the Burlington Bridge Commission in NJ, and the Gore-Tex Manufacturing Co., in Cherry Hill, NJ.
Lawrence received The Stained Glass Association of America’s faceted glass design award twice, the Interfaith and Forum on Religious Art and Architecture award twice, and the St. Francis Xavier Chapel Award of Excellence. In 1994, the SGAA presented Lawrence with its Lifetime Achievement Award. A senior advisor for the American Glass Guild, he was also an associate member of the British Society of Master Glass Painters.
There will never be another CZ, as he was affectionately known, partially because stained glass and what it takes to conquer the craft has forever changed. But the art and the artist will be represented throughout the ages by his many bold, gothic revival style masterpieces.
In 1994 Lawrence made his final window for the National Cathedral. This small, two-lancet window is located in the east end of the cathedral in the chaplain’s office. In most cases, he didn’t bother to make or apply the putty himself, but this time was special. Lawrence combined linseed oil, whiting, and lampblack, the major components, and added one last special ingredient—the ashes of Angus, his beloved dog who had died and was cremated during the making of his previous cathedral window.
Said Lawrence: “The cathedral was done, and Angus was in a safe place for the coming millennium. After that we will be together again. I am sure God knows how much I’ve missed him and She will bring us back together. Until then, I know I will always have a friend in the cathedral and so will Tracy, Vanessa, and whoever else comes after them.”
Recorded live at a coffee shop at the 2012 American Glass Guild conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, this podcast conversation was created from the TOYG archives.
The ancient Chinese regarded the dragon as the most potent of all symbols of energy and good fortune. They believed it to be the harbinger of incredible luck, prosperity, abundance, consistent success and high achievement. These are the very gifts Mike Luna’s dragons have bestowed upon their creator. A pipe artist, grower and smoker, his love for the cannabis plant is at the center of a successful career designing and fabricating the industry’s most beloved dragon headies, pendants and sculpture.
Born in Torrance, California, in 1978, Luna was raised in Santa Fe Springs until age 15 when he moved to O’Brien, Oregon, to start high school at Illinois Valley High. After high school in 1996, he moved to Los Angeles and began working in automotive retail. By this time older brother, Chris, had already started his journey into glassblowing, and in 1999 offered Mike a job back in Oregon. Luna found work in a production shop ran by Gilbert Velosco. There, he met and befriended soon-to-be functional glass legend, Darby Holm, who took him under his wing as an apprentice in 2000. Luna says: “Learning under Darby changed my life! He and the Holms are like family to me. They are a big part of the reason I’m still in Oregon constantly learning and trying different things with glass.”
On February 6, 2021, Ziggy’s Smoke Shop in Huntington Beach, California, presents Enter the Orb, Luna’s current solo exhibition of new work and collabs with the likes of AKM, Ryno, Darby, Justin Carter, and Salt. His work will also be on view September 18 at Lifted Veil Gallery in Los Angeles, and in December at 2Sided Gallery, Stanton, California.