Highly Volatile Territory

You could say the basis of this article started back in March, when MADE Gallery hosted Mike Shelbo for “How Glass is…” and I saw the largest instance of “chaos” that a glass art show brought in terms of glass availability and its exclusivity. Over 300 people lined up, only 40 goblin head pendants were available; some feelings were about to be hurt and the way we approach these shows would need to be changed. I had collectors expressing to me how mad they were, Mike even mentioned to me how many people expressed their unhappiness to him at the show; they came to support his art but couldn’t. I wondered if I would see anything like it again or was it a one-time occurrence.


Goblin head pendants by Mike Shelbo


Fast forward to December 2014, and Mike is about to have a show in Los Angeles at Honeydrop Glass Gallery. The gallery has done their best to tell collectors to follow their outlined rules for the show, but the collectors didn’t listen to the gallery. The perfect storm is brewing for another group of collectors to be upset and mad with Shelbo, when in reality he is not the one to blame. I just kept thinking to myself, all this could have been avoided had the artist had proper representation.


Left: Toasty + Shelbo /  Right: As Scene in Eugene by Shelbo


So, who is to blame?

In all honesty, I don’t think any one person can be blamed for something like this; rather than as an industry it is just new to us. Of course people’s hurt feelings and anger are not the desired outcome of these shows; but we need to experience these discomforts before we can grow from them, as an industry. No one was lining up for two days for the latest batch of fumed spoons, just so they can have first pick. No one got angry if they didn’t get the exact Roor they wanted, because one just like it was available. If the game has never been played like this, how can we expect to know all the rules?


“Gold Naps” by Mike Shelbo


The dynamics of the functional glass art industry are changing at an extremely rapid pace as far as what the artists themselves can produce, but are the people who put on and manage their shows keeping up with them? Is a new era of Glass Art Dealers being ushered in whose sole focus is the placing of high-end Functional Glass art Pipes in prestigious collections? Is anyone making sure that the same people with a Picasso in their collection have a Banjo in their collection?


Self Portrait in an Ice Cave by Mike Shelbo


I definitely think so. While I am one of the few who belongs to this school of thought, I believe it to be the true future of Functional Glass Art getting the respect it deserves. I truly believe that working with the right representation can further an artist’s career, and in the case of Glass Art, a few key people can set the standard for the rest of the industry; a very influential time for us.

Stay tuned with Masterlink Art Consulting’s Glass division for constant discussion!


“Print Ain’t Dead” by Mike Shelbo


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