Hot glass at Janice Charach Gallery

Michael H. Hodges
The Detroit News
Marc VandenBerg elegant grouping, “Spirit Vessels."

Glass, in all its transparent or opaque glory, takes over West Bloomfield Township's Janice Charach Gallery Sunday, with the opening of the "Michigan Regional Glass Exhibition."

This entertaining 42-artist group show, organized by the gallery and Michigan Hot Glass, will be up through May 9.

One of the delights of glass in the right hands is that it can be made to look -- well -- like it's not glass at all. 

Yup, it's a pizza entirely made of fused glass -- "Deep Dish" by Nina Cambron at the Janice Charach Gallery.

Consider Novi artist Nina Cambron's dazzling "Deep Dish," a fused-glass composition that's a dead ringer for your last pepperoni-and-mushroom pizza. 

John Wood's "No. 2 Golf Pencil" at the Janice Charach Gallery in West Bloomfield.

Look easy? Don't bet on it. "The artist said it was one of the hardest things she's ever made," said gallery Director Kelly Kaatz. And Cambron gives the piece amusing realism -- you're not supposed to, of course, but were you to turn it over, the bottom looks just like pizza crust.

Cambron's "Cake Topper" is similarly striking. On a lacy wire stand, it looks like some fussy, exquisite cake you'd find in a high-end Viennese pastry shop. 

Nina Cambron's fused-glass "Cake Topper" at the Janice Charach Gallery.

"Sentinel" by Joshua Wojick, until recently crafts program manager at The Henry Ford Museum, also fits into the doesn't-look-like-glass niche. Looking like five river stones improbably balanced on a steel base, you'd be hard pressed to read these as anything but rocks. 

There are, of course, traditional vessels. Consider "Veil Reticell Duo” by Andy Koupal, who teaches at the College for Creative Studies -- two white decanters with sliver-thin striations throughout and delicate stoppers on top.

Gorgeous in a completely different way is Detroiter Scott Taylor's "Venice," a rectangular cube of stacked-glass plates with striking color insets that could almost be a model for a breathtaking International Style skyscraper. 

Niko Dimitrijevi's "16:9" is comprised of glass plates and painted birds.

Figurative work here ranges all over the map.

Start with the tall figure dominating the center of the show, "Portrait" by Toledo artist Rebecca Szparagowski, who was the 2018 Emerging Artist-in-Residence at the uber-prestigious Pilchuk Glass Studio outside Seattle.

Here she's created something of a "Venus de Milo" out of what look to be zillions of icy bits of white glass. It's a striking composition. 

More humorous is CCS alum Ian Zapico's "Strolling Droid," a composite, fused-glass alien with undeniable swagger. There are several of Zapico's space-guys on display, all armed and equally cool. Kaatz confesses she'd love to have a couple dozen of his warriors massed in battle formation. 

Drop him and he'll shatter: Ian Zapico's awesome "Strolling Droid."

And don't miss "Sunken Soldier," an oddly engaging, jade-green fellow with what look like white barnacles stuck to him -- by Bowling Green State University student Keegan O'Brien. 

"Sunken Soldier" by Bowling Green State University student Keegan O'Brien.

Indeed, there are a number of students represented here, including Ethan Crawford and Rosemary Bostek from CCS, and a recent Bowling Green grad, Alexander Hartke.

College for Creative Studies student Ethan Crawford's “Pink Staghorn Coral.”

Albert Young of Michigan Hot Glass, who organized the show with Kaatz, said he was delighted to include some students and recent college graduates. 

"It’s pretty exciting for them," he said, "to be in an exhibition with people who are showing internationally. I think it's important and encouraging."

"Veil Reticell Duo” by Andy Koupal at the Janice Charach Gallery through May 9.

'Michigan Regional Glass Exhibition'

Sun. - May 9

1 pm.-4 p.m. Sunday - opening reception 

Janice Charach Gallery, JCC of Metro Detroit, 6600 W. Maple, West Bloomfield Township

(248) 432-5579

(313) 222-6021

Twitter: @mhdogesartguy