March 1951 – February 2021
Glass artist Roger V. Thomas passed away February 20, 2021 in Portland, Oregon, USA.
He was preceded in death by his wife, JoAnn M. Thomas in 2006 and his beloved German Shepherd Ingrid in December of 2020. Roger is survived by his sister Roseann Kirchmann of California, his goddaughters Miranda Schwabauer and Brynne Schwabauer and a lifetime of colorful, close friends, artists, artistic soul mates, art students, and so many more.
Many of us claim a piece of Roger as our own; a friend, colleague, MR. SCIENCE, a teacher, a master of meaningful units of language sounds, and you can fill in your own descriptor of what Roger meant to you, here __________.
Thankfully, Roger has left behind his own writings, his own description of how his life and life’s work intertwined to inspire him and us. You will find his resume, artist statement and of course his vitreous mosaics here on his website.
“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
Throughout his creative career, Roger also taught at various institutions nationally and internationally, including The Studio of the Corning Museum of Glass, Corning NY, Urban Glass, Brooklyn NY, Pacific Art Glass, Gardena CA, Creative Glass MHS AG, Zurich, Glass Forum, Averøy, Norway and closer to home, including Eugene Glass School, Eugene Oregon, and the Pacific Northwest College of the Arts in Portland, Oregon. Roger wished 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 work in a single brush stroke. Or single kiln-firing.
“Each piece is a dialogue between myself and the medium. The conversation is about how simply something can be said; how many marks, what colors, what texture communicates the subject most simply. How do you capture, translate and communicate essence? “ – Roger V Thomas
Roger did not want a memorial service and did not like his middle name, two facts you may or may not have known. A few celebratory occasions have reached our ears and we salute the friends and loved ones who lit the pyre and set Barbie on her journey to the afterworld, the friends and loved ones who celebrated Roger’s 70th birthday on March 13th in Portland, and a Zoom celebration another group put together where stories and laughter were shared. We assume that libations and comestibles were in abundance.
Taped to a door jamb in Roger’s studio was the poem Goodbye, by Anna Breslin c.2018.
“… Life moves forward,
so do I, in time, eventually.
There’s a tug on my heart,
I feel little pieces of lead,
pangs, and then it ends,
pain is transitory,
it feels eternal
or at least as long as me.
a dance of all things people.
Love stays etched
in beating chambers.
I wonder if anyone
will hear my so long
when it’s time,
and will life or the alive
miss me, will I be an
etching in an essential muscle?”
Yes, you will Roger.
We invite you to leave a comment below if you wish. Communications can also be sent to email@example.com.
I took a class with Roger at Urban Glass in NYC. My eyes were opened, wide open. He showed us photos of paintings for inspiration. Paintings. Not glass. Paintings that he liked. I was blown over by his technique that he so freely shared with us. That was 15 years ago. He was a mentor by every sense of the word and would happily correspond with me when I had questions. I was not aware that he has passed away. Thank you for posting the poem he had on his studio door. Wow. His spirit will live on here on the East Coast for sure. Thank you Roger.
The 3 summers (pre COVID) I rode my bike into Portland and would see Roger and Ingrid walking along the slough trail. I always slowed down out of respect for Roger and Ingrid. One day I finally stopped and began quick conversations with him and give Ingrid a pet when she would let me. It was always a joy along my ride to see them walking. Sad to hear of his loss as I will miss seeing him and Ingrid on my bike rides into Portland. He talked of making a piece of glass work of a bicycle for me but it never transpired. It would have been an amazing keepsake.
Heartfelt condolences to those he left behind. What a beautiful legacy.
Roger Thomas was my mentor and inspiration. I met Roger, what seems like a lifetime ago, during the beginnings of my warm glass exploration. I was invited to join a small glass class that Roger was teaching. I had loved his work from afar (in awe) and by the time the workshop had finished, he had captured my heart. He had such a giving nature, heartwarming personality and the talent!! Such talent!! He opened me up to this amazing world of glass and welcomed me with open arms. He critiqued my work and encouraged me to move from being a painter to being a glass artist. I remember him telling me that I had to "think in glass". Funny but I knew exactly what he meant.
I traveled to Portland, Oregon and Roger introduced me to other glass artists. He had arranged a group show with my glass art and his work at a gallery where he was represented. That opening was a highlight in my career. That kind of support and kindness is second to none. Over the years we didn't talk that often but kept in contact via internet and infrequent emails. I remember calling him after quite a while had passed and he answered the phone, "Hi Alice, how have you been?" Still in awe, the groupie in me couldn't believe he still welcomed me like we had just talked yesterday. I've heard Roger described as a "rock star" and I have to agree. But let me add that Roger Thomas was a miraculous human being who opened his heart to me, encouraged me and made me feel worthy. I will miss you kind sir. I now "think in glass" because of you. Thank you for everything. You will be missed.
I did two amazing workshops with Roger through the Prairie School of Glass in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. He made such an impact on my glass work and was such a great glass artist. Farewell and thanks for your unreserved instruction.
May your spirit fly high in the sky and watch over us all and help us to realize the best of ourselves . You have given so much of yourself to us to cherish for our short life time that it will be cherished for ever and a day
"There is always a big argument of whether what we do with the glass is art or craft. It really doesn't matter, what is important is that we do it" Roger , class at Firehouse 12, Vancouver, Wash. 2002 ?
Roger was a great teacher in helping us understand the glass.
I so treasure our times together, planning colors, scale, images. Roger taught us how to create, even for those of us who were not artists. For this, I am forever in Roger's debt.