Most of us tend to look at glass—or drink from it. Mount Washington resident Julie Nagesh manipulates glass until it looks a painting.
For more than 10 years now, Nagesh has been creating art from glass and showing her work in art galleries in Highland Park and South Pasadena. On Saturday, her first solo show ever will open at the Fremont Gallery, where her art work has been continuously displayed in the entryway for the past three years.
Nagesh will feature about 30 of her finest pieces in an exhibition titled "Explorations in Glass." Much of the work will be wall hangings—that look like paintings—priced from $20 to $700.
“People assume I use paint, but I don’t,” says Nagesh, who borrows her last name from her Indian-born husband, a retired information technology specialist who, she reckons, was “probably the first IT Indian here.”
Instead of paint, Nagesh uses sheets of colored glass, pieces of glass, powdered glass—all fired in a kiln up to a dozen times for 24-hour stretches.
Nagesh has four kilns in her hilly Avenue 37 home, which is located off tree-lined San Rafael Avenue. Every piece of her art is “an evolution,” she says, adding: “I usually don’t know what is going to happen.”
Nagesh majored in fine arts from the University of Arizona. After teaching art for a while, she became real estate broker. Years later, she felt an urge “to get back to my creative roots,” she says. “A friend was doing glass jewelry and she inspired me to make glass work.”
She started with jewelry. “My work kept getting bigger and bigger and I am now doing pieces that are two or three feet,” she says. A few years ago, Nagesh traveled to Canada to attend a workshop with the noted artist Bob Leatherbarrow, from whom she learned the so-called "crackle technique" (see the "Anahata Kimono" photo below for an example of the technique).
Nagesh is drawn to Asian designs, such as peacock feathers and certain Japanese influences, including kimono-type designs. She actually makes glass kimonos.
Nagesh has shown her work at the Avenue 50 Studio in Highland Park. “I love that gallery and what they do there, and I hope to show there again in the future,” she says. “But each gallery has its own style and flavor, and for some reason my work has been really well received at the Fremont.”
Explorations in Glass, Fremont Gallery, 812 Fremont Ave., South Pasadena, 91030. Opening Saturday, Dec. 14, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., through Jan. 7, 2014.