Bullseye: The Kaneko Project

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bullseye the kaneko project

For artwork and artist information, contact:

bullseye gallery

Bullseye Gallery 300 NW 13th Avenue Portland, OR 97209 503-227-0222 phone 503-227-0008 fax gallery@bullseyeglass.com www.bullseyegallery.com For information on classes and products, contact:

Bullseye Glass Co. 3722 SE 21st Avenue Portland, OR 97202 503-232-8887 phone 503-238-9963 fax sales@bullseyeglass.com www.bullseyeglass.com

© 2007 BULLSEYE GLASS CO. DESIGN Nicole Leaper PHOTOGRAPHY artwork Ryan Watson PHOTOGRAPHY portraits Jerome Hart PRODUCTION Jerry Sayer

the collaboration between Jun Kaneko and the Bullseye fabrication team has produced some of the most dynamic glass in contemporary studio art and provided discoveries in material and method that will ultimately advance the entire glass movement. For the chance to share the results of this visiting-artist project with the world, Bullseye Gallery and Bullseye Glass Company are grateful. left to right: Ree Kaneko, Jun Kaneko, Dan Schwoerer, Lani McGregor

Colorbox (detail), 2007, kilnformed glass, 84 x 106.625 x 8.375 inches installed



Plans for Colorbox; Jun Kaneko at the Bullseye factory studios

from art to industry

bullseye glass company The Bullseye Glass Company, based in Portland, Oregon, is a manufacturer of colored glass designed specifically for art and architecture. Five days a week the factory teams roll, crush, pull, and pour roughly 1,500 glass sheets and hundreds of pounds of glass grains, threads and billets. Production workers use methods rooted in the late seventeenth century and reinvented in the early 1970s by the three art-school graduates who founded the company. The skill of Bullseye’s craftsmen allows the factory to pro-

duce a complex color palette, more than 1,000 glass products, and sometimes as many as 30-40 different glass styles in a single day. Called “the most sophisticated glass-coloring company in the world” by legendary chromaphile Dale Chihuly, Bullseye is constantly exploring materials and methods. Factory innovations are driven to a large extent by in-house projects involving visiting artists. For example, Kaneko’s explorations suggested improvements in a new, large-format sheet glass line and initiated the production of larger, nonlead, crystal-clear sheets.

Erik Whittemore and Jun Kaneko select sheet glass at the Bullseye factory studios.



bullseye university

research + education Central to the Bullseye factory is Research & Education, a department comprising three studios and seven technicians who are responsible for product testing, teaching, and providing technical support for visiting-artist projects. In the course of their work, Bullseye R & E technicians make discoveries in material and method which are then documented in technical publications and transferred to the public through in-house workshops, free lectures, and Web distribution. The R & E facility itself has been shaped largely by the needs of visiting artists like Kaneko. For example, many kilns bear the names of the artists whose projects inspired their fabri-

cation (as in the 130-cubic-foot “Bertil,” named for Swedish master Bertil Vallien) or the local fabricators who built them (as in Kenny Simpson’s little “Simpson” and its big brother, “Sampson”). The newest upgrade to the R & E facility—a spare, light-filled coldworking shop—was rushed to completion in order to grind and polish the thousands of pounds of Kaneko slabs. Most of the R & E staff come to the company from university glass, ceramic, or art programs. They continue their educations in the Bullseye system, as rigorous as many graduate-degree programs, but with considerably more silica than ivory in its towers.

Erik Whittemore and Tom Jacobs inspect sheet glass.

Jun Kaneko inspects sheet glass; stringer used for kilnformed glass panels.



exchanging ideas, art, and technology

artist projects at the Bullseye factory Artists have always played a key role at the Bullseye factory, which was founded in the 1970s by three art-school grads rolling sheet glass by day while nursing the fine-arts dream. It was not until 1992 that the factory was flush enough to sponsor its first formal group project. “Connections” involved nine artists working in as many techniques over the course of a full year. The discoveries in method and material made during those months evolved into an award-winning video (Connections) and, more importantly, set Bullseye’s direction for years to come. Outwardly, artist projects at Bullseye may look like the residencies sponsored by many non-profit programs, but

actually they are different in some essential ways. Bullseye is a small, for-profit company, and it funds its work with artists from its own revenues. In exchange for providing artists with materials, services, housing, and other benefits, the factory may receive compensation—ranging from a percentage of finished works to teaching commitments, to publication rights for technical advances made in the course of artists’ research. Because of their give-and-take nature, Bullseye’s artist projects are called “exchanges” rather than “residencies” and are as varied in terms as they are in duration, intent, and scope.

Jun Kaneko during an artist exchange at Bullseye’s factory studios

the complexity of simplicity

technical challenges of the Kaneko project The glass designed by Kaneko and fabricated at Bullseye over the last three years presented a host of technical challenges. The most obvious were frequently the least demanding. Sometimes the slabs’ weight (many over 300 pounds) meant moving them with forklifts. Their thickness required firing cycles of hundreds of hours. And their overall size demanded greater-than-usual uniformity of heating within the kiln chambers. Less obvious challenges were posed by the complexity of the forms themselves. Many of the slabs—which appear to be simple forms with spare lines of color—are in fact composed of hundreds of strips of sheet glass, each of which was cut, weighed, and cleaned by hand. To complete all of the slabs, the fabrication team handled over 180,000 separate pieces of sheet glass. (On close inspection, the sheet lines may still be read like fossil prints in the finished fused work.) In addition, fabricators treated and assembled approximately 60,000 threads of glass to make the artist’s

42-foot-long curved wall. In all, the Kaneko project was the most time and labor intensive ever undertaken at the Bullseye factory. One of the major technical discoveries resulting from the project involved—as advances so often do—a disaster. During the process of casting the massive L-shaped form, the weight of the glass in the vertical leg put so much pressure on the horizontal leg that it burst the supporting dams. Later, while digging hundreds of pounds of glass from the furnace floor, the technicians noticed that the once-straight lines in the interior of the slab had flowed into an elegant arching pattern. “Yes! Do that again!” said Kaneko. And so they did (after rebuilding the kiln floor)—over and over again, in creating a series of works that are now among the most dynamic in contemporary studio glass: Liquid Velocity.

Jun Kaneko inspects a Liquid Velocity test sample. Liquid Velocity 3, 2007, 73.25 x 69 x 8.125 inches installed



Moving a massive Liquid Velocity panel out of the kiln requires the entire team and a fork lift.

five fabricators, three years, six tons

Ted Sawyer

Paul McNulty

Tom Jacobs

Erik Whittemore

Nathan Sandberg

Logan Farrell

the studio team

For members of the studio fabrication team, the Kaneko project represented hundreds of days of research and countless hours of problem solving—as they waded through the maximal challenges posed by minimalism.

Erik Whittemore shared glass-fabrication and kiln-preparation tasks with the rest of the crew while helping to build a new coldworking shop, where he would eventually be responsible for grinding and polishing the Kaneko works.

Ted Sawyer, Director of Research and Education, kept the entire project on track during the 36 months that it occupied his team. Asked to identify the greatest challenges in working with Kaneko, Sawyer remarked, “The deceptive simplicity of his drawings…and sleeping at night.”

Nathan Sandberg joined the team after graduating from the glass program at Southern Illinois University, where he’d worked mostly in plate forms just 1/4” thick. His first remark on seeing the seven-foot-long slabs designed by Kaneko (whom he’d previously encountered only in textbooks) is not suitable for publication.

Paul McNulty supervised kiln and controller engineering and maintenance. High-temperature kiln repair and rebuilding an entire kiln floor after a flow-bar melt-down were among the highlights of his engagement with Kaneko. Tom Jacobs took off many hours from his usual teaching schedule to cut, inspect, weigh, and clean the thousands of strips of sheet glass needed for the project.

Logan Farrell was the last member to join the R & E department and fabrication team. He spent the majority of his first eight months preparing glass, loading and unloading kilns, and moving and coldworking the slabs. He echoed the sentiments of the rest of the team when he remarked, “Maintaining uniformity on this scale looks lots easier than it is.”

Liquid Velocity 1 (detail); Paul McNulty and Tom Jacobs prepare the kiln for a Liquid Velocity panel.



the leading edge of contemporary glass

bullseye gallery The Bullseye/Kaneko collaboration culminated in Jun Kaneko’s exhibition New Glass, March 20 - August 18, 2007, at Bullseye Gallery. Housed in the historic Sinclair Building, the gallery is located in the arts-rich Pearl District of downtown Portland, Oregon. Bullseye Gallery works with a select group of international

artists with the aim of furthering exceptional design through innovation in material and method. A dozen or more exhibitions are mounted annually at the gallery, some of which flow directly from artist projects sponsored by the affiliate studio across the river at the Bullseye factory. The gallery also regularly exhibits at art and design fairs around the United States and abroad.

Translucent Angle, installed view


bullseye the kaneko project