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2007 AGG conference comments
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 Posted: Mon Jul 30th, 2007 12:53 am
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Don Burt
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I attended the AGG conference this week. I'm in the airport with about 12 hours to kill since my flight options were obliterated by weather. Fortunately I have time to reflect.

I've heard that some chose not to attend the conference because they believe they don't match the category of individual who should attend. Like me, they are amateurs, or novices, or students, or professionals with limited exposure. I heard that they are intimidated by the roster of big-names in stained-glass that were scheduled. Or they expected esoteric discussions of no concern to a novice or amateur or student. But it wasn't that way at all.

I've seen the agenda of other organization conferences, and trade conferences hosted in Las Vegas, or at retailers. 'Learn to cut glass', 'Learn to make bracelets', 'Learn to perform decorative soldering', 'Learn to paint on glass'. OK, the AGG conference didn't provide introductory training sessions. And its difficult for me to quantify exactly what could be obtained from the agenda I attended, but I'm going to bullet below a few of my experiences to illustrate the tone of the conference.
  • There was a roundtable discussion at the beginning of the conference. I listened the true masters of stained glass of twentieth and twenty-first century discuss their views on apprenticeship and education. I felt this tone throughout the conference. There was an emphasis and genuine concern by the masters and other accomplished professionals toward education, sharing information, engaging the students of whatever level of accomplishment.
  • On a church tour I found myself standing in a church next to Rowan LeCompte, while he looked at a lancet he had designed and painted, listening to him reflect on its qualities.
  • I asked Robert Pinart a question about design, which he thoughtfully answered.
  • I spoke individually two or three times with Dick Millard about different aspects of design.
  • In another church, Silvia Nicolas asked my feelings about a window by Benoit Gilsoul.
  • I talked to Nick Parrendo about glass painting during a bus ride to a church.
  • In a roundtable discussion on painting, thirty people tossed a design question of mine around for fifteen minutes. I heard the feedback of Debora Coombs, Dick Millard, Patrick Reyntians and others to my question. One young artist asked for feedback on a piece she had brought and displayed. She received specific and honest feedback on her design and execution. After the roundtable, Debora spoke to me about her concern whether my question had been answered. I was invited to follow-up.
I saw a lot of great presentations that focused on the art of stained glass, the history of the art of stained glass, the state of the art of stained glass. As a consequence my head is full of images that make me want to get to work on them immediately.

So the notion that someone would opt to skip this conference because they were intimidated, or thought it wouldn't be useful, is just incorrect. Its sad really. I can't think of any opportunity that could have been better for someone interested in stained glass art, and improving their own stained glass art. And I didn't even attend most of the restoration-focused sessions.

And if you didn't attend, you don't know what the 'gypsum' technique of fabricating glass is all about, much to your loss.


 



 Posted: Mon Jul 30th, 2007 11:06 pm
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iaff84
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The conference was overwhelming! Glad I had a long putt home to go over it in my mind. I feel anyone would come away with something valuable from attending.

There were two “hidden” gems for me. Maybe easily overlooked with all the other things going on.

Cash Flow, Don Samick presentation allowed me to learn to ask the right questions in this area. This will help even this one man show get a better grip on the finances.

Understanding Personality Style Differences. Anne Litwin gave a great presentation with her limited time. Got the whole room pegged and involved. Great job.

Great talking face to face to with people for a change, now have a face to go with post made on forum.

Can’t name all of you but good time after the meetings. Kept this ole boy up way to late each night. But a lot of good conversation.

Dennis Swan



 Posted: Tue Jul 31st, 2007 01:52 am
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surfwalker
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It's Monday night, and I've just read Don Burt's at-the-airport evaluation of the AGG conference in his personal reflections.

Don, you have hit the bull's eye  when you say that you are going home with your head full of images that you cannot wait to get to work on !!!!!!!!!!

I have been working in the stained glass medium for a while now, but I have so much yet to learn.  In Providence, I started a notebook page of  'things I MUST do when I get back"   Not only did I leave the conference with panel ideas and painting ideas but  also with a heart full of new motivation, inspiration, and challenges. 

THAT is what the AGG is all about. Personally, I view the conference as a sort of retreat for artists. How exciting for begininers,  those in mid-career, and the venerable ones to be all together in one place SHARING glass art.

You're glad you came, and I predict that there's no one who is sorry they came!  See you next time!

Ardra



 Posted: Tue Jul 31st, 2007 02:21 pm
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Heidi
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Thank you to all we met at the conference.  It was truly astounding to meet face to face and heart to heart with such present, brilliant, and sincere people making contributions, great or small, to our chosen art and craft.  We are sorry that we didn't have the opportunity to delve into conversation with so many more colleagues with whom we were only able to share a brief handshake, or simply put a face to a nametag.  I guess we will have to wait until next year to get another chance to sit down and talk.  If any of you are passing through Paris and have the time to write us a message, we would love to visit some stained glass and have a drink together.

Til soon,

Heidi and Stephane



 Posted: Sat Aug 11th, 2007 05:20 pm
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joseph2bears
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Don, you've said it so much better than I could. 

I have to admit that I felt intimidated going to this conference, afraid that I would be shunned as a nobody by the master artists, particularly since I do not paint and know nothing about conservation.  Those fears evaporated in the first 5 minutes!

Every person I met was just delightful, from you to Patrick Reytiens, Rowan LeCompte, Sylvia Nicolas, Dick Millard, ...everyone!  There was no status thing, just a lot of warm friendly people sharing their knowledge and love of glass.  For 5 days I felt like a kid in a candy store and reveled in every moment of it!

I did attend the sessions on conservation and gained a great deal of insight that will help me in my own work.  I have been experimenting with plating techniques in my work, largely self taught by experimentation, with some questions to Barry Masser for guidance along the way.  But at this conference I learned how various works by LeFarge, Tiffany, and Lamb had been constructed (all differently, BTW) from those who have meticulously restored their works.  It has given me a new confidence and inspiration for future work. 

I had learned some rather crude repair techniques from studios in my area.  In Sunday's Repair & Retoration Workshop I learned just how crude my limited knowledge was!  Sunday I learned how the masters do it, and actually got to try the techniques with their guidance.  That was a very valuable experience!  Thank you Roberto and Art!!! (And thank you, Dennis, for giving me your spot in this class.)  While I won't be repairing any Heritage works, I have learned some valuable techniques that will be helpful in my limited scope of work. 

Vicki and I drove across country to the conference, with the intent to see a little bit of the country along the way.  We did that, but there were two stops along the way that particularly enhanced the conference for us.  First, we stopped in Muncie, IN, on the way to Providence to visit Dennis Swan's shop.  Dennis was a delightful host and gave us a complete tour.  But the big highlight was when Dennis shared his latest experiments with his "illusion" bevels!  In my wildest dreams I had never envisioned such a thing.  It made my creative juices flow!  Before we left Dennis I had visions of works the likes of which have never been seen!  It may take a year or two; I have to make some special glass and then have Dennis bevel it, but oh!, the possibilities!!  I was primed in Muncie before we ever got to Providence!  The conference just lit the fuse!

At the conference I met John Raynal from Virginia.  I grew up in Virginia.  We had some things in common and a friendship developed.  John bought a number of things at the auction that he would have to have shipped.  I planned to take Vicki down the Blue Ridge Parkway and show her the Smokey Mountains, which she had never seen on our return home.  We would be passing within 10 miles of John's studio, we had the truck, so I offered to deliver his items and save him the shipping hassle.  It was certainly no trouble for us, and John was very grateful.  When we arrived we met John's wife, Becky (a delightful person in her own right) who had prepared a very good dinner for us.  It was a delight to have a home-cooked meal on the road!  John gave us a tour of the town and his studio.  John specializes in repair and restoration and we got to see first hand several projects in various stages.  Many, many things I heard discussed at the conference I saw put into practice in John's studio.  It clarified a great many things for me.  From description at the conference to seeing it in action on the bench was invaluable to my learning.  Thank you, John!  The visit to John's studio was the icing on the cake. 

I am certainly glad we went to the conference and took our sweet time coming and going.  I am very grateful to Dennis and John for hosting our brief visits, and to the AGG members who donated all the hard work to put this conference together.  I also want to thank all the AGG members who were so gracious and made us feel welcome.  It was an experience that will not be soon forgotten.  I am very much looking forward to the next conference, renewing and extending friendships, meeting and making new friends, learning, and sharing what I can.  Until then....

--Joseph 2bears



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