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Saturday, August 16, 2014


varieties of colored glass

Dog Martha from Allan's house down the road came into the house. I leave the door open for Caterpillar to go and return at will. Martha sometimes comes in and eats Caterpillar's food. I didn't let her eat Caterpillar's bowl of catfood and told her to go on outside. She sat just inside the door. She usually obeys when I tell her to go out. She sat just inside the door. I went over to encourage her to go and she looked up at me with sheepish, pleading eyes. Caterpillar was just outside the door glaring at Martha. If Martha were to move, Caterpillar would swat her. Martha wanted to go, but squealed instead. Caterpillar hissed. I encouraged Martha to go by opening the door a little wider for her. She passed by Caterpillar within an inch or two. Caterpillar hissed and Martha tucked her hind end and hurried out of Caterpillar's reach. The look in Martha's eyes was so beseeching it was pitiful. They said she wanted to obey with all her heart, but Caterpillar was looking at her. Dog couldn't move. Couldn't back up into the house and couldn't go outside. Stuck. Caterpillar hissed as soon as Martha moved. Martha out of Caterpillar's way, Caterpillar stepped into the house, not in a good mood. Dog smell in her house, not acceptable. Martha is a grown dog with white hair on her face. I've known her since she was a pup. She's a good dog all the way around. She needs to be yelled at to get her attention, but that's the only part of her short of ideal. She's a good guard dog and a good guardian. Any dog that might try to dominate me would have Martha to deal with. Martha is a tough country dog. She has good stamina and she's strong. She has shorter legs than her big sister Jolene, and when they were young, Jolene could easily outrun Martha. Martha kept at it and taught herself to run faster than Jolene. 

caudill cemetery by tj worthington, 1990, 16x20

I went to see Allan next door. I was taking him a painting I'd made years ago of the Caudill cemetery in Air Bellows. Allan does genealogy and frequents graveyards. He said this is the only painting he'd seen of a cemetery. He said, People don't paint cemeteries. I said, People don't buy paintings of cemeteries. Surely, some have been painted, like old Southern cemeteries I'm sure have been painted. Seems like most people are afraid of cemeteries. Fear of dying. Don't want to face it. A picture of a cemetery kinda speaks of mortality and runs a crack through the liberty bell of denial. I was hoping Allan and/or Gary would be in the stain glass studio. I was wanting to see what they're doing. Hadn't been there in at least a month. Thought I'd drive. It's a little far to walk carrying something. To get out of the car, I had to struggle with Martha and Jolene, both wanting to crawl inside the car onto and over me the moment I opened the door. I had to put my leg up for a barrier, use an arm to push them both back. They're like cows in a stockyard crawling over each other to get to the gate. I yell at them, tell them to get back. They tussle in a pretend fight. They're jealous of each other like the donkeys. A human nearby and both dogs want to be first with equal zeal. Once I'm out of the car they settle down, but only after I've had to struggle through both of them crawling on each other trying to get to me and I'm putting up my leg to stop them. The opening to get out of the car amounted to two dogs struggling to climb onto me while I'm still in the car, desperate. I've known both dogs all their lives. They're good dogs. It's an expression of their affection. I was in no danger. With these two dogs around I'm not even in danger of a bear. They would fight anything for my sake, or for Allan, or for Gary.

gary medley's project

Both were in the studio. Gary is working on a big window-sized piece of a palm tree, a beach, foliage, sun in one part of the sky, moon in another part of the sky, playing with different textures and colors of glass, piecing them together as puzzle parts. Harvest moon when the moon rises in the sky opposite the sun setting. It's quite a production. His next project is another large one of Hills To The Sea landscape of Blue Ridge Mountains and a bicyclist. I can't even imagine how he will perform that one. I saw so many pieces of colored glass, I was awed seeing so much can be done with glass. Glass is a whole study in itself. It wasn't very long ago in years that nobody knew what glass was. Glass is a relatively recent invention or discovery or both. Allan has his own projects in his own station. I have to applaud what they're doing. They're making it work for them. They keep at it. They've learned that it is necessary to sell a lot of low cost items. They sell crosses and stars, then wonky stars, wonky peace signs. Wonky means lopsided, no straight lines. They're nice. Gary has begun to make owls with big round eyes. They get commissions for windows, for doors, for things to hang in a window. These are people doing what they want to do and making it work. They are making beautiful objects, actually working with light, playing with the whole spectrum of light. The pieces are put together on a tabletop, how it will appear in the light has to remain in the imagination until it is finished and held up to the light: the moment it comes to life. I've enjoyed seeing their individual progress in the years I've known them.      

by allan joyce

Allan's designing eye leans more to the geometric abstract. Gary likes to translate scenery to glass. Makes it easy to tell their work apart. They have samples showing in the River Rock restaurant next to the bowling alley, the coffee shop, and a few other spots in town. Over the years of knowing Allan, he has educated me in the possibilities of stained glass artistry. I went with him to West Jefferson to see a place with some nice stained glass several years ago. He took me to a stained glass place in Winston-Salem and someplace else, places where he buys glass. The stained glass world is a whole world unto itself. I had never considered there would be such big business in making and selling colored glass in varieties of textures. I've been surprised by the business Gary and Allan have of making pieces with colored glass every day and selling them consistently and often. They evidently have created their own market. Quite a number of people like what they are doing and the number is growing. Before I knew Allan, I knew stained glass was a form some people made some beautiful art with. But I never thought about where they found the glass, how they designed and soldered the pieces together. It is fascinating for me to see the production, like Gary's layout with the palm tree, determining the shape of a piece of glass, cutting it, wrapping its edges in copper foil. I say plural edges. Seems like a piece of glass would have one edge all the way around, but that doesn't seem right either. I can see Gary growing one step at a time. Each piece he puts together is a bit more complex than the one before, using what he learned before and stretching out looking for something new. Allan's eye I see growing conceptually. By conceptually, I mean his visual ideas in the abstract grow more interesting, in some ways simpler, in some ways more complex. It was a good feeling in the studio, good energy, colored light energy.

by allan joyce

allan joyce

gary medley foreground




  1. Awesome! I love stained glass and I love seeing your neighbor's work - thank you!!!