Josh Simpson: Visionary Explorations in Glass
October 15, 2022–January 15, 2023
D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts
Springfield (MA)—The Springfield Museums announces the exclusive showing of Josh Simpson: Visionary Explorations in Glass opening Saturday, October 15, at the D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, and on display through January 15, 2023. This retrospective exhibit, a collaboration between the Springfield Museums and the Artist, includes rarely displayed works of art and signature examples. The exhibition showcases the development of Simpson’s artistic and scientific process over fifty years, as he sought to perfect a unique and exquisite artistic vision for a finicky and often-elusive medium.
“Glass is an alchemic blend of sand and metallic oxides combined with extraordinary, blinding, heat,” said Simpson, who lives and works in Shelburne Falls, MA. “The result is a material that flows like honey, it moves gracefully and inexorably on its own in response to gravity and centripetal force. It possesses an inner light and transcendent radiant heat that make is simultaneously the most fascinating and the most frustrating material for an artist to work with. I do everything I can to coax and shape it, while all it wants to do is drip on the floor.”
With a half century of experimentation, practice, imagining and reimagining, Simpson has created a body of work that exemplifies the best outcomes of artistic innovation: distinctive, innovative pieces that inspire awe. “Josh is largely a self-taught glass artist,” said Maggie North, Curator of Art for the Springfield Museums. “His unyielding curiosity and intrepid experimentations have resulted in groundbreaking techniques, original forms, and new materials that define his inspired vision.”
Among the works that exemplify Simpson’s approach are his distinctive glass planets which were inspired by the Apollo astronauts’ description of seeing the Earth hanging like a “blue marble” in space. “The recognizable Planets, the starry New Mexico glass, multicolored Corona glass creations, and other distinctive glass works speak to triumphant blend technical skill with a contagious sense of wonder,” North said.
Josh Simpson: Visionary Explorations in Glass presents many of Simpson’s signature pieces—Planets, New Mexico glass, Corona pieces—as well as art that was experimental and sometimes led to even greater discoveries. “The connection between art and science runs deep for Josh,” said North. “He sources inspiration from nature, the night sky, and the universe beyond.”
Featured prominently in this exhibition are glass works that reflect the artist’s interest in cosmology and astronomy. “I think that all the work that I do is in some way related to space,” Simpson said. Simpson is married to astronaut Cady Coleman, who brought several of his Planets into space with her when she was aboard the International Space Station. His work has captured the imaginations of other astronauts as well. Alan Bean, Apollo 12 and Skylab 3 astronaut, said: “Josh Simpson’s intricate glass orbs of mysterious beauty invite scrutiny, revealing the wonder and invention of a brilliant and innovative artist. Josh Simpson’s visionary landscapes have the silent power to make us aware of how magnificent, rich and wonderfully complex the universe around us can be.”
Drawn from the artist’s archives, the Springfield Museums’ holdings, and from private collections, this exhibition showcases the expansive range of Simpson’s vision in the form of planets, platters, vessels, goblets, sculptures, copper baskets, and unique surprises. The display also includes new work, nodding to the artist’s ongoing quest to expand the boundaries of his medium.
The Museums are celebrating this remarkable exhibit with family programing, a spectacular fundraising event, a studio tour, and a lecture. Please see details below. A catalogue detailing Simpson’s artistic journey will be available for purchase.
October 15 @ 10:00 am–5:00 pm
Free with Museum Admission
Celebrate the opening of the special exhibit Josh Simpson: Visionary Explorations in Glass with hands-on art and science activities. Free with museum admission!
Seeing [Sun]Spots, 11 am-2 pm
Learn about how telescopes use glass, then use a telescope to view sunspots! Quadrangle Green (Weather Permitting)
A World of Your Own, 11 am-3 pm
Inspired by the “planets” created by Josh Simpson, make your own mini-planet using Model Magic! Blake Court, First Floor, D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts
Clearly Fun Slime, 11 am-3 pm
Make stretchy slime that’s as clear as glass. Quadrangle Green (Rain location: Science Workshop, Second Floor. Springfield Science Museum)
Glass Art/Glass Science, 11 am-3 pm
Explore the science of glass and get an up-close view of the tools and materials glass artists use. Quadrangle Green (Rain location: Science Workshop, Second Floor. Springfield Science Museum)
Colorful Sun Catchers, 12-4 pm
Capture the colors of autumn with a glass sun catcher. Art Discovery Center, Second Floor, GWV Smith Art Museum
November 10 @ 5:30 pm–8:00 pm
This elegant fundraiser includes a silent and live auction and opportunities to puchase to unique Josh Simpson pieces generously donated by Katie and Jonathan Oakleaf.
View the 50-year retrospective exhibition, enjoy a presentation by the guests of honor, pose for a celestial photo-op, and mix and mingle in the galleries with hors d’oeuvres and signature cocktails inspired by Josh and Cady’s favorite drinks.
Live auctioneer: Sally Fuller
Catered by The Federal • Open Bar
Society of William Rice members attend for free!
November 11 @ 8:45 am–4:00 pm
Cost: $112; Cost for Members: $95
Visit the Shelburne Falls studio of world-renowned glass artist Josh Simpson. Enjoy a guided tour, discussions and glass blowing demonstrations with Josh and his “hot shop” team. Lunch is included followed by a visit to the Salmon Falls Artisan’s showroom in Shelburne Falls. In the picturesque village of Shelburne Falls, the Salmon Falls Gallery represents over 100 local artists (including Josh Simpson’s work) with an incredible variety of jewelry, handmade furniture, wearable art, and other unique, imaginative and beautiful creations.
Presented by Josh Simpson, Glass Artist
December 8 @ 12:15 pm–1:30 pm
Cost: $4; Cost for Members: FREE
This presentation traces the evolution of artist Josh Simpson’s space-inspired glass through the past five decades. From his earliest experiments in glass chemistry, done while he lived in a tipi in the wood through his creation of marble-sized imaginary worlds – inspired by the Apollo Space Program – that inspired children to ponder their own place in the universe to massive, sparkling solid glass spheres known as Megaplanets, many of which now reside in prestigious museums across the U.S. to his invention of new glass formulas and effects inspired by Hubble Telescope imagery to techniques for representing recent discoveries about black holes, deep space gravity and other energetic phenomena follow Josh’s unique interpretations of the astrophysics events and theories of the 20th and 21st centuries. Then get a glimpse of what lies ahead for this innovative artist!
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About The Springfield Museums
THE SPRINGFIELD MUSEUMS are located on the Quadrangle at 21 Edwards Street in the heart of downtown Springfield, Massachusetts. The nationally accredited and Smithsonian-affiliated consortium of museums includes the Springfield Science Museum, the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, the Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History, the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum, the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden, and the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum, the first and only museum dedicated to the beloved children’s book author and Springfield native.
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Karen Fisk, VP Community Investment and External Affairs
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