Bio - Gary Beecham
Much of Gary’s work has been heavily influenced by ancient glass, both in form and in technique. The ancients treated glass as a plastic gem material, a substance that could be colored, stretched, melted and carved by the maker. Gary has experimented with countless ways of manipulating glass involving blowing, fusing and cutting. Over his twenty-five year career, he has become well-known for heavy, thick-walled vessels. For the imagery in these pieces, he first makes up a wide palette of colored overlay rods. Some pieces contain textile patterns that are then introduced into the crystal glass piece as it is being blown, creating the illusion of glass “fabric” floating in the bowl of the vessel, often with a second or third pattern appearing on one of the vessel’s reflecting surfaces. Others, incorporating complex millifiori, are formed into mosaics of brilliant color. The imagery of these pieces has been suggested by influences as divergent as astronomical forms, undersea creatures and figures from a Persian rug.
Gary’s work is shown and appreciated internationally. He is represented in corporate and museum collections world-wide. Over the years, he has maintained a strong presence in Germany where he had a solo show in 1984. He has a gallery in the south of France where he is a featured artist. In 1998, he received a Silver Prize in the International Exhibition of Glass Kanazawa in Japan, where he has shown regularly since 1985. Here at home, he was recognized by the NC Arts Council in 1996 for superior achievement by an Visual Arts Fellowship Grant. This grant allowed Gary to pursue The Expanding Universe series, a body of sculptural work that has grown out of his use of colored overlay rods and fusing. Of this series, Gary says, “Since I was a boy, I have been an avid science fiction reader fascinated with concepts of space and time. Photos from the Hubbell Space Telescope showing ancient galaxies on the edge of our present visible universe planted the seed for my new series in glass and metal.”
In the world of his peers, Gary Beecham’s name is synonymous with fine craftsmanship, artistic excellence and generosity of spirit. He is constantly asked for technical advice by members of the glass community and patiently attends to these queries in the manner of a born teacher. The demands of his own studio have kept him away from the teaching schedule at Penland school for ten years, but he stays in touch by doing guest demonstrations and hosting studio tours.
Regarding his work and his decision to remain the maker as well as the designer Gary says, “Reading science fiction, the visible light spectrum and looking up at the country night sky as I walk between my house and studio at night have also inspired me to make the Expanding Universe Series. My wife and partner Mary Lynn and I are completely involved in our work, both aesthetically and in making the glass pieces at every stage of execution, so the number of pieces we produce is small but personally and artistically satisfying.”
Beecham White Glass