Saturday 9 March 2019

Wood Fired Blown Glass Artist Curtis Dionne. 4Q Interview

Another first for the Scribbler. 

It seems to be that glass blowing must be one of the most difficult crafts to do. Curtis was introduced to me by a fellow artist and he is most kind to answer some questions for us. Curtis and his fiancee Charlotte are the founders and owner of the Glass Roots Art Gallery in Riverview, New Brunswick. 

Curtis Dionne started blowing glass in 2003. He was trained by internationally acclaimed glass blower Daniel Vargas for four years in Maple Ridge, British Colombia. He grew up traveling all over North America and is now settled in Atlantic Canada to make his mark in the art community.

Charlotte is our everything! She assists Curtis in the studio (and in Life!), she is one of our sales associates, and she runs the farm that is the setting of our gallery and studio. She always has a smile, and she goes the extra mile to ensure our customers are happy with our products and services.

4Q: Before we chat about your art, let’s talk about Grass Roots Inc and the exciting things happening at present.

CD: Glass Roots is the

company I started more than 10 years ago to facilitate the business needs of my glass art. It has been evolving and taking different forms but always driven by the art of glass blowing. It had always been my intention to use Glass Roots Inc as an umbrella organization to represent a collective of glass artists working from a shared facility. My mandate is to cultivate the glass art community in NB. Things have moved and developed quite slowly in our very rural and isolated setting. Also, there are so few glass artists with no public studio or education facility anywhere in the Maritimes to draw from or take part in. In recent months  have decided to relocate my gallery closer to an urban center in order to help things move more quickly and all year round. I realize that with so few glass artists that I may need to reach out to artists in other mediums. So at the drop of a hat I promptly secured a gallery location and put out  call for artists. After just a month I now show work and carry products in my gallery from over 50 local artist of great quality! It seems the entire art community in the area was in need of a place to show and sell their work. Now, our location at 406 Coverdale Road. Riverview NB, is quickly becoming an art and culture destination. We feature a beautiful exhibit space that is currently booked 2 years ahead for solo artist shows. All of this development only encourages me more, to continue laying the building blocks for a public access glass art center with classes and access to hot shop equipment for beginners and established artists in glass.

4Q: I expect that glass blowing must be difficult. How did you get started and can you briefly explain the process.

CD: Becoming glass blower is a metamorphosis of life. You must exercise dedication, persistence, and patience. Nobody learns this craft quickly or easily. It has been said to be the most difficult hand craft to master.
As a teenager I had become inspired by glass art by age 15. It was then that I had chosen craft for my lifestyle path. I had considered wood and clay as possible mediums yet dreamed of glass. It was by chance that I met internationally recognized glass maestro, Danielle Vargas. His skills a versatility in glass were so broad and so natural that I knew there was no other person in the country that could offer me as much. I began taking classes every Saturday while I worked as a roofer to pay for the expensive lessons. After 6 months the Vargas's offered me an apprenticeship. They would start me at minimum wage and offer me a dollar per hour raise each year. They asked for a 5 year commitment and I gave them my absolute dedication. It was there that I learned to dance, sing and breath with glass.
Danielle Vargas successfully transported an entire form of art from his hometown of Guadalajara Mexico to Canada where his influence can be demonstrated coast to coast.

4Q: Please share a childhood memory or anecdote with us.

CD: I was born in Vancouver. Yet I moved around the country constantly throughout my childhood often attending new schools 2 or 3 times a year. A catalyst to this uprooted life perhaps was the burning of our family home when I was 8. My parents would not come to own another home after that. It was truly one of my last memories of living in the community that I was born in. I can remember seeing the smoke from across town and all the fire trucks rushing buy and feeling sorry for whoever it was that was losing everything at that moment. As it is, only fragments of memories of people that I once knew and scattered family members across the country are my roots. But, as roots cling to rocks in search of nourishing pockets of soil, I have found the fertile ground I need here in the Maritimes to raise my children and begin a new generation.

4Q: Where does your inspiration come from Curtis? What makes you decide to do a certain piece?

CD: The glass speaks to me. Not as a voice in my head, but more like a star in the sky that guides sailors home. The glass wants to reveal itself. It wants people to notice it in all its forms. It is only glass that captures light and colour. It has the ability to distort or focus vision much like the human eye. Silica is simply the most fascinating and important material on the planet. It is ancient and shrouded in mystery. It is modern and the basis for all of human kinds technology. Glass will absorb any known element of the universe and show it to us in a way of beauty. It is through glass and light that we are able to view the cosmos light years away. More than just sanitary and infinitely recyclable vessels, glass gives us sight, technology, and science. Glass is present in every aspect of our lives and will become increasingly important throughout the future as there are infinite formulas and uses for this beautiful material.

4Q: This week at Glass Roots, amid all the amazing glass and art, Susan Jardine has a showing until March 30th. We talked about this last week Go Here.

Please visit Glass Roots by following these links.

Thank you so much Curtis for sharing your thoughts with our readers. Looking forward to visiting you at the Gallery.

Thank you for visiting the Scribbler. Tell us your thoughts. Go ahead, leave a comment.


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