WILLITS, CALIFORNIA - The Willits Center for the Arts will be kicking off the new year with “Glass Tangents,” an art exhibition featuring the works of local Willits’ artists Jonah Ward and Kale Haschak. Both have been lifelong friends and will be displaying artwork that showcase their unique experiences and mutual love for glass.
“This show represents a pairing of two glass artists with such different styles in glass production resulting in an outstanding quality of work,” stated Gary Martin, curator of the art gallery at the WCA. “People should know about these guys!”
Martin, who took over as gallery curator in August, explained how this show will be part of a new format they’re experimenting with at the space. “By limiting the shows to two artists who complement each other, we hope to curate shows focusing on a wider range of art production.”
Martin also plans to incorporate a multimedia element into each show and has recruited documentary filmmaker, Al Rosen to film the artists in their studios. The edited footage will play in the gallery during the show, and on the center’s website. “The idea is to get an in-depth look at the artists, their studios, and their method of producing art,” explained Martin. “It’s fascinating to watch and should be shared and enjoyed by everyone.”
As teenagers, the duo discovered Jonah’s dad’s welding torch and began experimenting with glass lampworking. Following high school in Willits, Jonah went off to the California College of the Arts in Oakland where he majored in glass. There he discovered his signature art making process: burning wood panels with molten glass. His art has been sold to collectors all around the United States, in addition to commercial spaces such as The Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena and the Irish Whiskey Museum in Dublin, Ireland.
“For this show, I’ll be unveiling some new, larger works using wood I milled from my family’s property east of Willits,” said Ward. “There is something powerful and gripping about using local materials that I hope the audience will connect with the same way I have.”
When not making artwork, Jonah is spearheading a truffle farm start-up project recently featured in a Willits News cover story.
In contrast to Jonah’s career path, Kale Haschak moved to Arcata, CA after high school where he continued lampworking as a hobby. He then made his way to Seattle where he enrolled in classes at the Pilchuck Glass School. This lead him to Martin Blank Studios where he worked and learned many of his advanced glass blowing techniques, and was part of a team hired to make work for Dale Chihuly in 2010. He also had the distinct opportunity of being part of a live glass blowing demo at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma.
“The work in this show will be more modern sculptural pieces using a mixture of classic Italian glass techniques,” explained Haschak. “While most of the blown glass will be classical in design, the sculpture will be made up of new styles and techniques, some developed by me alone.”
Kale moved back to Willits in 2012 with his wife Jackie where they recently completed construction of their cob house on his family’s land. Kale now uses a glass studio in Willits to make new artwork that he sells throughout Mendocino county and beyond.
“Jonah has been my closest friend for the whole of my life, also the person who got me into glassblowing,” explained Haschak. “Without his influence, it’s very likely I would never have
become a glass artist at all.”
“Kale is one of those friends that no matter how much time has gone by without seeing each other, we can pick up right where we left off,” said Ward. “It’s exciting to finally have a show together, and I think that both of our art styles harness and manifests the connection found in our friendship.”
Martin concluded, “Visitors who come to see this show should walk away with a sense of pride in the quality of work produced by artists in Willits.”
The Art Center will be hosting an opening reception on January 7th where everyone is welcome to come and enjoy an evening of engaging art, food, and drinks. The show will run through January 29th.