David Patchen: Satisfying the Artist and Craftsman Within
Like a beautiful sea creature, David Patchen’s sculpture makes one marvel at how such detail, color, and complexity could be possible within its graceful form. Influenced by textiles, ethnically distinct colors and shapes, and the marine environment, the artist creates multi-layered cane and murrine, then contrasts complimentary tertiary tones in complex woven patterns. The resulting work reflects the artist’s desire to explore a variety of ideas simultaneously and challenges the role of glass in the art world at large.
Patchen says: “I find glass as seductive as it is challenging. As a particularly unforgiving medium, an artist has endless creative opportunities to design for its unique properties — the only limitations are their imagination and skill in working with the material. I’ve always been captivated by how one can use this enigmatic material to achieve virtually any form, hold elements in suspension, and achieve great detail or soft abstraction. Its flexibility as a medium is matched by the difficulty it presents in using it to execute precise work.”
Patchen’s process begins with meticulously planning and designing colors and patterns. After cane and murrine is pulled, the artist carefully composes these elements to design the final work, sometimes days prior to blowing it. This process of thoughtful creativity contrasts with the immediacy of executing work in the hotshop, where the limited window to shape molten glass demands precision and urgency.
Primarily self-taught, Patchen grew his skills through experimentation informed by observing talented local artists and a few visits with Afro Celotto, maestro and former assistant to Lino Tagliapietra from Murano, Italy. He has served as guest artist at the Corning Museum of Glass, studied at the Pilchuck Glass School, and in 2010 was selected as Artist in Residence in Seto City, Japan, spending a month lecturing and demonstrating his work through an award from the Seto City Art and Cultural Foundation. His book David Patchen, Glass is in the permanent collection of the Rakow Library at the Corning Museum of Glass and the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Centro Studi del Vetro (Glass Study Center Library) in Venice, Italy.
Actively involved in the glass arts community, Patchen serves as Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Directors at Public Glass, San Francisco’s center for glass art, where he maintains a private studio. He is also a member of the Pilchuck Leadership Council and former member of the Board of Directors of the Glass Alliance of Northern California (GLANC).
Patchen recently installed his latest sculpture, Dewdrops, on a ship off the coast of Germany. Other notable projects include collaborations with James Deveraux, Rob Stern, and earlier with Toland Sand and Mark Leputa. From January 16 – 18, 2020, the artist will present a Visiting Artist demo and show at Benzaiten Center for the Arts, Lake Worth, Florida. From May 16 – 17, Kittrell Riffkind Art Glass, Dallas, Texas, will host Patchen’s solo show and demo.