Pablo Picasso once said that, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”
Well, Harvey Littleton seems to be one of the few with the solution. Now 90-years-old, Littleton remains a thriving artist. From pottery to glassblowing to vitreography, he has showcased his talents as a man with multiple crafts. However, it is his mastery of vitreography that will soon capture the eyes of art-lovers all across Fayetteville.
Harvey Littleton & Friends is a new exhibition of vitreograph prints from Littleton and other nationally and internationally known artists, such as Dale Chihuly, Erwin Eisch, Herb Jackson, Clarence Morgan and Tom Nakashima, among others. For the ﬁrst time ever, Fayetteville has the opportunity to experience these dynamic works ﬁrst hand at the David McCune International Art Gallery on the campus of Methodist University.
Each print is made its own by the individual techniques the artists use when embedding their images onto a plate of glass that is then run through a printing press, creating the unique art that is vitreography.
Now known as the father of the Studio Glass Movement, Littleton has transformed from the young boy in his father’s lab at Corning Glassworks to famed mentor and legendary artist. It wasn’t known some years ago that little Littleton would stray from his father’s dreams of becoming a physicist and gravitate toward a more expressionist form of work.
While glass as art may seem like a relatively normal form of representation today, it wasn’t always so. Glass was formerly believed to be an industrial material meant only for use in factory facilities. However, in 1962 Littleton helped level the playing ﬁeld when he conducted two seminal glassblowing workshops at The Toledo Museum of Art. Then just a year later, in 1963, he taught the ﬁrst university program for glass in the United States at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. But the best was still to come.
In 1974, Littleton developed what is the modern printmaking technique for vitreography. Just a few years later he opened up his own glass studio in Spruce Pine, N.C., where he would invite artists of all forms to come and make vitreographs using his etching press.
Silvana Foti is the executive director at the David McCune International Art Gallery where the exhibit will be held. She had the opportunity to meet Littleton when she was passing through Spruce Pine visiting different galleries.
“I met Harvey Littleton in the ‘80s,” she said. “I never forgot that he had a studio and in 2009, I went back for a workshop.”
During her return trip to the Littleton gallery, Foti was able to study with master printer Judith O’Rourke, another talented vitreographer.
Foti considers herself fortunate to be able to bring such a timely art to Methodist University.
“This exhibition is bringing the Fayetteville area a form of art that has been around for 50 years and we’re very excited to be hosting the show,” she said. “These artists are the cream of the crop in vitreography.”
The exhibit is scheduled to open Thursday, Feb. 7 at the David McCune International Art Gallery in the William F. Bethune Center for Visual Arts at Methodist University. There will be an opening reception from 6 to 9 p.m., with a gallery talk at 7 p.m. by Littleton’s daughter, Carol Littleton Shay. Admission is free.
The gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 12 to 4 p.m. Appointments are also available. The exhibit will be on display through April 7. For more information, visit davidmccunegallery.org.
Photo: Moonbeam Dancing by Erwin Eisch.