CODA Gallery Presents Glassworks by Jesse Kelly
CODA Gallery presents a new exhibition of glassworks by Seattle artist Jesse Kelly, running February 7 -28, with a February 7 opening reception attended by the artist, from 5 to 8 pm, in conjunction with El Paseo Art Walk/Palm Desert First Weekend.
Not many people think of 1,200 degrees as cooling, but Jesse refers to such intense heat in that way when he describes the moment his glass sculptures take shape. When his art medium begins its life at 2,000 degrees, it’s all relative. One also could use the word “relative” in connection with his path to becoming an artist, though not one based in spontaneity. “My mom, Ginger Kelly, is a glass artist and designer,” he says. “I had been around glass since I was 10, but it wasn’t an attraction. When I started working at the production studio where she worked, it was a physical job. I would make paperweights, ornaments, and oil lamps.” The basic designs and production of between 20 and 30 products provided the artist with “a great foundation for working with the material and a good design concept,” he says.
Inspiration came from his subsequent affiliations with two celebrated maestros of glass: fellow Washingtonian Dale Chihuly and Venetian Lino Tagliapietra. Jesse attended Chihuly’s Pilchuck Glass School, where he became a teaching assistant, and then worked at the master artist’s Boathouse studio. In addition to six years with Chihuly, he worked over the span of 12 years with Tagliapietra. “Lino Tagliapietra was a big influence on me — leaps and bounds as far as concepts and coloring,” he says.
Jesse’s first signature glassworks were pears and apples sold by Nordstrom. Ultimately, the influence of growing up in California and Washington led him to more botanical creations — initially individual leaves and then clusters of leaves in large-scale plants. Tall agave and bamboo spears (up to 6 feet tall) serve as architectural designs that accent exterior spaces, as well as interiors. “Art is deemed as a luxury, but I feel it would be tough to go through life without art,” he says.