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RICHARD ROYAL G AT H E R I N G S


230 West Superior Street Chicago,IL 60654 | T 312.573.1400 F 312.573.0575 www.kensaundersgallery.com | info@kensaundersgallery.com Published by Ken Saunders Gallery 230 West Superior Street Chicago, IL 60654 www.kensaundersgallery.com Š 2014 Ken Saunders Gallery All Rights Reserved Printed and Bound in the United States of America 2 4 6 8 10 9 7 5 3 First Edition May 2014 Design by Deborah Kraft Photography by Richard Royal ISBN: 978-0-9885301-7-1


Published on the occasion of the exhibition RICHARD ROYAL: GATHERINGS June 6 - July 26, 2014


RICHARD ROYAL G AT H E R I N G S


When Richard Royal arrived at the Pilchuck Glass School in the spring of 1978 he was aware that something was going on at the mountain campus that seemed to have sprung from the ground along with the Douglas firs and Norway spruce. The idyllic retreat founded by Dale Chihuly, Anne Gould Hauberg and John H. Hauberg was no longer a commune of like minded artists celebrating the freedom to create in a pastoral corner of the Hauberg’s tree farm but was slowly and surely blossoming into one of the most important educational institutions of its kind in the world. When Richard joined the staff of Pilchuck it was ostensibly as a maintenance man. In those early days a guy hired to clean up and a guy hired to drive a truck–Richard and William Morris respectively–might easily find themselves assisting the world’s greatest glass blowers as they worked the hot glass, in demonstrations for students and for themselves after hours and after the summer sessions had ended for the season. Though Richard was introduced to glass as a student at the Central Washington University he pursued an interest in ceramics and in 1972, he and fellow student Ben Moore built a studio in their hometown of Olympia, Washington. There they created a line of production objects made from clay. The young men worked compulsively and energetically but typically found themselves in bohemian circumstances. Richard made his rent money building high-end wood furniture and endeavored to keep the studio viable while Ben enrolled in the under-graduate program at the California College of Arts. After Moore earned his degree at CCA his parents sent him to a summer session at the Pilchuck Glass School were he met Dale Chihuly. Chihuly had established the Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Washington in 1971 and he encouraged Ben to come help out during the summer programs. As the small staff of the school expanded to accommodate to explosion of interest in the programming Ben reached out to his buddy Richard, inviting him to join the staff in 1977. Richard jumped at the chance to get out of Olympia where maintaining the ceramics studio had become a lonely enterprise. “I’d heard about what was going on at Pilchuck but I was just thinking about having a job and getting fed regularly. I had no idea what was going to happen…it changed my life.” After spending the summer of 1978 at Pilchuck, working maintenance and, on many occasions, assisting in the hot-shop during classes and after hours, Royal was invited to stay for the fall to assist Chihuly with his work. Chihuly was assembling a large team that he felt would allow him to create ambitious, large scale sculptures and installations. R.M. Campbell in the Seattle Post-Inquirer described Chihuly in an article from that period as, “interested in the experimental, of stretching the technology of glass as far as it can go. Chihuly stresses cooperative efforts… It is Chihuly belief that with cooperative effort, the field of glass making can be expanded. Pieces can be larger, more complicated. The tradition is European.”

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Thomas L. Bosworth, a director of Pilchuck in the 1970’s, wrote that one of the ruling tenets at Pilchuck was an educational emphasis on art as opposed to craft. “They are both aspects in glassblowing, but one can emphasize one or the other. We want[ed] to see what the artists do with the glass.” Once winter descended on the Pacific Northwest the team was forced to abandon Pilchuck for the season. Chihuly filled his calendar with Visiting Artist Residencies at Colleges and Universities around the country and took members of the team with him. Royal recalls the excitement, “we’d take over the art department and during our demonstrations the hot shop would be standing room only,” the team putting on what amounted to a performance with Chihuly playing the master of ceremonies breathlessly directing the action. “We would hit the campus like rock stars.” While Chihuly developed a very specific vision of a large studio employing extremely gifted crafts people to handle very specific tasks in an effort to harness the best each had to offer to the process, most artists working in glass in those days worked in very small teams, basically a handful of artist/friends who took turns leading the creation of their own works with the assistance of the others. “We all had our own ideas. In fact, when it was your turn you were expected to have your own ideas for your own work.” And led by the example set by Dale, “everybody was completely supportive of the others and willing to lend a hand if need be.” Dale set the tone, “really supporting whatever each of us wanted to create.” Royal spent six years working with Chihuly, “searching for my own ideas” before joining Ben Moore at his studio in Seattle in 1984. His first series of blown objects to find commercial and critical success, the Diamond Cut and Shelter Series, were begun at this time. In 1995 in an interview with critic and historian Shawn Waggoner for Glass Art Magazine Royal describes his approach. “The Diamond Cut Series was the first I seriously pursued as a series.” The most important technical characteristic of this early work was the overlay of color on the outside of the bubble a strategy that turns the usual process of picking up color first on it’s head. Royal describes the process later in the same interview, “In the Diamond Cut Series I overlaid four or five different colors on the outside of a bubble, brought the blank down to room temperature and used a diamond band saw to cut through those layers…I wanted to create an object that would allow you to look at the outside and inside simultaneously…This was a personal metaphor for exploration, looking inside.” The Shelter Series extended this metaphor reflecting profound changes he was going through emotionally, financially and professionally. In 1989 his engagement and subsequent marriage led to the Relationship Series. The form consists of two vessels that meet and entwine around a smaller vessel at the center of the sculpture. “The Relationship pieces…show two equal entities coming together around a single idea.” Central to these works was the artist’s sense of scale. Royal committed early on to working in the largest scale that was technically feasible.

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Those bodies of work especially reflect the profound influence Ben Moore and Dale Chihuly had on the artist’s work. Moore’s tight technical approach was itself influenced by Italian Design. Moore blows “on-center” and his work is often characterized by a restrained use of color. Chihuly on the other hand had an organic sensibility but his approach to the creative impulse was as much informed by Warhol as by nature. His pieces were gestural, gaudy and loud in color and in form. Royal thinks that his work has benefited from the influence of these two opposites. In his latest body of work, the Geos, the artist has sought to capture the qualities of kiln cast glass in his blown glass constructions. He has emphasized simple and subtle coloration and given the individual pieces a sculptural presence by referencing organic forms as opposed to utilitarian objects. Additionally in this exhibition works from the artist’s Optical Series are being shown. Expressing Royal’s lifelong fascination with the lighthouses of the Pacific Northwest the

objects themselves summon, for the artist, the image of the Fresnel lens, a wrap of color creating a sense of motion for the viewer.

The gallery is especially pleased to mount this exhibition of new work by Richard Royal and document the exhibition in this catalogue. I want to extend my sincere gratitude to the artist, Dena Rigby and Deborah Kraft for their contributions to this exhibition and catalogue. Ken Saunders, 2014

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OPTICAL LENS SERIES As a lifelong resident of the Pacific northwest, I’ve spent countless hours on the shore. I’ve always found that lighthouse lenses hold great power and beauty. Large and spherical with a continuous wrap, the Optical Lens pieces are reminiscent of lighthouse lenses. Like a Fresnel lens, this wrap creates an optical illusion of motion as one walks around them. These pieces also remind me of a gather of honey, continually in movement, molten and glowing. -Richard Royal, 2014

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Primary Orb, 2014 20 x 17 x 16 inches

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Untitled, 2014

20 x 20 x 18 inches

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Untitled, 2014

19 x 17 x 17 inches

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Royal at the Museum of Glass, Tacoma, WA.

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GEOMETRIC SERIES I’ve worked in glass for thirty years and for a good portion of that, I’ve focused on making large-scale sculptural objects that have deeply personal roots. A reoccurring theme is one of the relationships of individual parts, in a whole. The Geometric Series is an exploration into the theory that all things have a geometric significance or a mathematical sequence. Often this sequence builds on itself. If you break objects down, eventually you will find a geometric structure in the essence, whatever it is. My vision is to create organic sculpture using rigid components to portray this concept of growth and clarity in form. When I first began this series, it was very direct in the replication of color and form. As it has evolved the sculpture has become more dynamic with compositions and surface treatments of the elements. -Richard Royal, 2014

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Aqua Tower Blush, 2014 50 x 17 x 11 inches

detail image on page 16

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Viotoria, 2012

21 x 21 x 11 inches

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Blue Ratchet, 2013 22 x 22 x 20 inches

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Too Cool Ruby Wheel, 2014

20 x 20 x 16 inches

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Lemon-Lime Fractal Twist, 2014 21 x 21 x 18 inches

detail image on pages 24-25

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Red Zeal, 2013

12 inches in height

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Dapple Grey Hint, 2013 21 x 21 x 21 inches

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Richard Royal on Piano, 1965, Olympia, WA.

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PUBLIC COLLECTIONS Boca Raton Museum of Art, Boca Raton, FL City Centre, Pilchuck Glass Collection, Seattle, WA Daiichi Museum, Nagoya, Japan High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA Mint Museum of Art & Crafts, Charlotte, NC Museum of Glass, Tacoma, WA Muskegon Museum of Art, Muskegon, MI New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, LA Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs, CA Racine Art Museum, Racine, WI Seattle Children’s Theatre, Seattle, WA Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, WA Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa, FL US Embassy, Buenes Aires, Argentina University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle, WA Washington State Arts Commission, Olympia, WA

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$50.00


Richard Royal