Where We Were When
I’m taken with landscape. It is a heady word and a vast concept, yet it is our common ground. Statistically it is the most desired of images; it is the art of everyone. We are not confused or frightened in its presence and we find comfort in knowing what it is. We see our lives framed by where we were when. Our world is visualized as landscapes, and we are given context and richness from them. We speak through landscape – it is our wordless storyteller. We are endlessly modifying it to mark our passage through it, our time in it, and our lives spent there.
I want to suggest there is a haven within the change we feel around us on our earth, our landscape. My unpopulated woods are not virginal, but rather, disused. There may be structures and roads in them, but they are not the point—they do not lead anywhere. Rather they infer one may live within growth, within change if one describes it correctly, appreciates the view from where they are now.
Art in Embassies Program
The ART in Embassies Program is a unique blend of art, diplomacy, and culture. Regardless of the medium, style, or subject matter, art transcends barriers of language and provides the means for ART to promote dialogue through the international language of art that leads to mutual respect and understanding between diverse cultures.
The ART in Embassies Program is proud to lead this effort to present the artistic accomplishments of the people of the United States. We invite you to visit the website, art.state.gov, which features on-line versions of all exhibitions worldwide.
The fall was exceptionally rich this year here in Portland. In response to it and peripheral nudges (internal and external) to step away from the birch and aspen style of work for a bit, I created this "not aspens" body of six new works.
Originally meant as a complement to the four seasons of the earlier Glacial Stream series, they eventually took on life of their own and became lyrically abstract expressions of the natural beauty here in Oregon. Each of these mosaic collages of gestural splashes of leaf and color helps me move my work towards that blend of landscape and abstraction that I feel gives the viewer just compensation for wanting to share their life with a work of art.
It is time to tell ourselves stories.
Stories about how we feel about the world, and our place in it. To tell these stories, we will use the images of our daily lives that get through to us, and the thoughts they provoke in that moment we are open to something new, something different from the normal, from the routine in our lives.
Stories of the passage of time, of life, as we gaze at the aging of something intended to be as permanent as the stone path we walk on. Stories based on simply looking down at our feet, as we seek reassurance we are still walking in the world we know. Stories about our life as it passes through this world.
These are pieces related by their intimacy and abstraction, and their ability to create a space where you, as the viewer, feels comfortable--little rooms from which it is safe to make up your own story about what you feel, or perhaps know, is there.
When people tell me stories about my work, I know they are fully connected to it.
A Little About Roger
Roger Thomas was born in Los Angeles, California in 1951. He began working with stained glass in the 1970’s, and by the 1980’s was developing his own innovative techniques with fused glass. After moving to Portland, OR to take a job at his favorite glass factory in 1988, he established his second studio and began to “make things” in earnest.
It’s an accident that I’m an artist. As a self-professed “maker of things,” I join a large portion of the human race in believing that it is good to build. With age, after enough history and experience sinks in, the temporal nature of building becomes apparent and I am left with the realization that it is the effort, not the object, that gives merit to the doing. Art is the detritus of the creative act, and creating is a worthwhile goal for my life.” – Roger V Thomas
He brings this same dichotomy to his artwork. Easily distracted by color, design and structure wherever he goes, he then attempts to extract the essence of form with a graphic shorthand in order to communicate his view of the world to others.
And he chooses to do this with glass, a medium so belligerent and unyielding that it creates a narrow set of confines for him to work his will on. It demands whoever wishes to master it learn to work their own magic.
By now, these techniques are second nature to him, enabling him to create pictorial and abstracted images while allowing the glass to voice it’s own true nature. He states that he wishes to know his medium as well as the Asian calligraphy master, who, after a lifetime of study, bends the ink to his desires and expresses the world in a single brush stroke. Or single kiln-firing.
The Roger Thomas Glass Studio is located in Portland, OR on Mississippi Avenue, at the opposite end of the street from the trendy shops and restaurants, alas, and perched above a bluff with a view of the railroad yards, and Washington state.
For a while, when he first moved in, he decorated the windows of his garage doors with the ID numbers of train engines, trying (in vain) to recognize a pattern and predict the pitch and tone of the next whistle. Luckily, he gave up that endeavor and went back to glass.
Ingrid the Studio Dog keeps watch over her master’s domain. She makes certain no mailman, cat, coyote or vicious bunny comes anywhere near the studio unmolested. She also spends a great deal of time grumbling over the lack of walks and ball-throwing in her life, but is perfectly willing to offer up a word of advice or succinct criticism when called on. Look for her words of wisdom and updates under “News from Ingrid.”
This studio is a life-long dream of Roger’s. The space isn’t exactly perfect yet. He doesn’t have his tile-lined, drain-in-the-floor room for cold working, and his dream of putting every piece of equipment on wheels has yet to be realized (though is very, very close). However, he’s able to keep three out of four kilns running in one area and he no longer needs to use a miner’s head light in the dimmest corners to seek out the proper colored sheet of glass as in his previous basement studio.
The gallery upstairs is a unique blend of those pieces that he’s unwilling to give up just yet, one or two that other galleries have returned, and the newest, most exciting works that have just come out of the kiln and are hung and admired before being sent off.
United States Embassy, Ankara
Ankara Turkey (PDF – pp 10-13)
by Beth Olsen
Roger’s Galleries & Contact Information
You can find Roger’s work at any of his galleries. Please visit them to see if they have something you like already and is available from New Work!
Roger will be happy to work with you on commissioned projects. Please contact your nearest gallery listed below to make arrangements. Browse a sampling of his commissioned work and read the write-ups to see how other commissions have gone.
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