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Dante Marioni
at Bullseye Gallery
, Portland, Oregon 
Recommendation by Richard Speer


Dante Marioni, 'Orange Box with Blue Vessels,' 2011, blown glass and wood, 26 7/8 x 18 5/8 x 5'

Continuing through June 25, 2011

Imaginatively conceived and immaculately executed, the kilncast, fused, and blown glass sculptures in Dante Marioni's "Variations" encompass a stylistic eclecticism rarely seen in glass work. In addition to the graceful, Empire-waisted vessels for which he is widely known, the artist essays fresh forms: the undulating curves of "Bee Hive" and "Clouds;" honeycomb cutouts in the mirrored, steel-framed "Yellow Mosaic Mirror Circle" and "Red Mosaic Arch Mirror;" and the eccentric curio cabinets entitled "Red Vessel Display" and "Orange Box with Blue Vessels." Perhaps the show's most glamorous piece is "Chrome Poppy," resplendent with black lines crisscrossing a silvered ground. Its shape is essentially an upside-down vase, but the bulbous midsection and nubby, stamen-like tendrils at its crown lend the piece a distinctive opium-pod appearance. While it does not explicitly quote Art Deco design elements, its sheen and visual panache do evoke a Deco-flavored opulence. Marioni will always be best known as a glass blower, but rather than coast on the renown of his impeccable vase and pitcher forms, he has made a point to actively explore techniques outside the sometimes exclusionary and self-referential fiefdom of glass blowing. The results of this inquiry marry visual wit, fastidious detail, and a sense of the sumptuous.

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