New museum exhibit is a glass act

July 27, 2008|By JULIE E. GREENE

o View the "Art Glass" slideshow

Tiffany, Steuben, Quezal ... these are some of the makers of artistic glass represented in the collection of Dick Stark; works Tri-State-area residents can check out at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts through Sunday, Sept. 7.

Stark, who lives in the Washington, D.C., area, has collected glassworks since he was in his late teens, finding the three-dimensional medium fascinating.

"It's a substance that really doesn't change with time. ... With rare exceptions, it (remains) the way it was produced," Stark said.


Glass, he explained, doesn't oxidize or suffer the ravages of aging as furniture or paintings on canvas do.

Stark said he purchased many works at auctions or from from private collectors. Several of the pieces on display at the museum in Hagerstown's City Park are worth tens of thousands of dollars, he said. Also on display in the exhibit are four works belonging to a friend of Stark's.

Among Stark's works on display are:

o An English cameo vase, made by George Woodall with Thomas Webb & Sons factory. It's a well-known piece, Stark said. He had seen a picture of the blue vase in "English Cameo Glass" by Ray Grover. When Stark saw it was up for auction in 2006 at Sotheby's in New York City, he purchased it.

o A rare Steuben vase. Stark said it took him a long time to find a Steuben with this particular coloration - burgundy on the bottom that feathers into a ivory-colored top.

o A Quezal multicolored jack-in-the-pulpit art nouveau piece, right. The shape is unusual but not rare, Stark said, but there's a chance this piece was made by Martin Bach or a close assistant he trained. Bach was one of Louis Comfort Tiffany's better workers until he was fired, Stark said. Tiffany jealously guarded his techniques of making art glass and Bach had spoken about it. After he was fired, Bach founded Quezal, which is named after the beautiful but seldom seen quetzal bird in Central America, Stark said.

o A Tiffany lava piece that stands about 4 1/2 inches high. This piece, circa 1905, was brought to an antique shop by a housekeeper, collector Dick Stark said. The store worker didn't realize its importance, thinking it was irregular, but the more irregular a Tiffany lava piece is, the more desirable it is.

o A Tiffany glass piece is approximately 2 1/2 inches tall.

o A small Tiffany vase is about 3 inches high.

o An English cameo, circa 1896, made by George Woodall, widely regarded as one of the finest makers of cameo glass. In the cameo technique, parts of the outer, colored layer of glass are cut away to reveal a different colored glass beneath. English cameo glass is considered the pinnacle of glass art, according to collector Dick Stark.

o A plated Amberina glass, among the rarest examples of American glass because not many were made and it is extraordinarily fragile, collector Dick Stark said. Many pieces broke in production.

o Peachblow glass, first made to replicate a Chinese porcelain vase from the collection of Mary Morgan that was bought in the 1880s for $18,000, collector Dick Stark said. That kind of money for a vase was unheard of at the time and prompted others to make similar pieces. The piece was made by Hobbs, Bruckunier of Wheeling, W.Va.

If you go ...

WHAT: Art Glass of the Golden Age

WHEN: Through Sunday, Sept. 7. Museum hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

WHERE: Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, Hagerstown City Park

COST: Free

MORE: For more information, call 301-739-5727 or go to

The Herald-Mail Articles