On January 10th thru February 2nd, bau Gallery presents Francesco Mastalia’s ORGANIC, a photo documentary featuring over 100 farmers and chefs of the Hudson Valley.

This is the first exhibition of this new, large body of work by Mastalia. ORGANIC spotlights the Hudson Valley as a region at the forefront of this movement. It features the dedicated farmers who are committed to growing and producing food using sustainable methods, and the chefs who echo their beliefs and pay homage to the food they produce.

The portraits of the farmers and chefs were photographed using the wet plate collodion process, a technique developed in the mid-19th century, when the art of photography was in its infancy. The amber toned images remind us of a time when the cultivation of land was a manual process that linked the farmer directly to the soil. To date, Mastalia has logged in more than 17,000 driving miles within the Hudson Valley on his photographic Odyssey and has photographed 136 of our regions important farmers and chefs. Bau will feature 36 of these magnificent works from the ORGANIC series.

garygenetti 675 warwick ny

As the sound of a diesel engine starts up the opening video of a kickstarter project called Turning Trash into Treasure, we are introduced to glass artist Gary Genetti who is showing us a novel technology drawing on recycled glass. He shares with us his vision for a more sustainable future: turning junked glass into functional household objects like bowls of various sizes, mirrors, clocks, lighting fixtures and whatever else your imagination can think up, design, and create. Even jewelry, which his wife, Mena Messina, is starting to do with their two daughters.

The idea of a resource like glass that can be sourced locally and repurposed almost anywhere in the world is a big part of the vision. Genetti calls it “Activist Art. Art that changes the world. Art  that can be done on a small scale that grows and expands.”

He adds, “It’s also about sustaining myself and my family and to be able to do it in a way that is a model for others. It’s a project with a low tech approach resulting in a beautiful object. Hence the slogan turning trash into treasure.”  

Did you know there was an estimated 12-15 million tons of the type of glass found in commercial buildings, automobiles, and residences that ends up in landfills each year? “As a glassmaker, I knew that there was so much glass that is wasted. “Tempered glass cannot be cut or reconfigured in any way. It can only be shattered and re- melted.” says Genetti.

With the help of his family, he begins his project by carrying the tempered glass off premises from junkyards or receiving donations from local residents. In his studio, we see the process of how recycled glass is turned into objects. He calls it ‘upcycling’ - turning a waste material into a valuable object.

At the studio the glass is broken into tiny pieces and then collected into a bucket, washed and dried.  Then it is plated on a circular window glass which has been edged, placed into a kiln and baked at temperatures above 1400 Farenheit. “One part of the sustainability side of the project is that we use 20% wind energy to heat the kiln.”

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It’s a seemingly simple process, like baking cookies. The end result:  A unique set of functional objects. Like many good ideas, however, the path to simplicity is strewn in a maze of twists and turns bringing together Genetti’s years of ingenuity as a glass artist fused with his consciousness about living in and creating a more sustainable planet, together with the challenge of presenting a glass enterprise that has commercial possibilities.

In the quest to commercialize, this simple act becomes more complicated.

 “The problem with glass is that it’s a cheap resource and it’s not an environmental hazard,” says Genetti. So the first issue we have to confront is the low demand for an easy and cheap resource. It begs the question: Is it worth recycling?

Another obstacle that hampers Genetti is the fact that it has never been done commercially. It’s considered undoable because there is no infrastructure to receive the materials from landfills and junkyards except to go out and collect it oneself. 

So if there was an assignment to do a large scale project, like to fulfill an order to supply the lighting fixtures for the newest sky scraper or hotel that is being erected, it would be hard to project the accessibility of the quantity of recycled glass needed to be collected and processed..

Another complication is whittling down all of the potential objects of creation that lend themselves to more commercial appeal. Genetti’s background has been as an artist, not an industrial designer focused on producing functional objects that have mass appeal.

Finally, finding the inroads for where the products will sell creates another set of challenges. Genetti, who has a background in working trade and craft shows, has had very little experience selling ideas to department stores and home supply chains, where it might be essential to get these products to market on a larger scale.

Despite the hurdles, Genetti marches on, recognizing the steep challenges ahead of him. “My vision for it is to create a business model that would employ returning veterans. The project would be a metaphor for a shattered life fused together. If a lot of people fed into the idea and it blossomed into a bigger possibility, why couldn’t this scenario materialize?”

On the day I visited Genetti, he was getting ready to put another batch of glass into his kiln. “This glass came from a ceramics maker. She and her husband have closed their business and are planning on moving out of the area. They gave me an old shower door.”

Handmade8RecycledGlassBowl zRecently Genetti has been commissioned to do several pieces, as he has cultivated a good client list over the years who are still interested in his work.  Although it hasn’t always been easy, he admits that he has been fortunate to do what he has always loved. “I’ve been doing what I love and have been lucky enough to make a living at it. When has there been a time when it was easy for an artist?”

 “We’ll see how this project goes. The next trade show is the buyer’s market in Philadelphia. That will be the proof of whether this is going to fly or not. If it doesn’t, we move on. There is too much investment in time. The show is branding itself as American made and crafted products with a broad based market.”

As I was preparing to leave, Genetti handed me a beautiful bowl made from this recycled glass. “They make great holiday gifts,” says Genetti. We are having a holiday sale. Come on over and invite your friends.”

Amity Artists Flyer

grasshopperCornwall, NY - The Hudson Highlands Nature Museum is seeking nature lovers to participate in Art in the Wild, Naturally Inspired Trailside Creations, an outdoor art exhibit that will take place over four months in 2014 at the Hudson Highlands Nature Museum in Cornwall, NY. Artists and other interested people or groups are encouraged to apply to make a playful installation or sculpture at one of many sites on the Museum’s Pond Trail.

The purpose of the project is to broaden the audience for art and nature in Orange County and to help people deepen their appreciation of both art and the natural world. This program is funded, in part, by Orange County Tourism and the County of Orange through its 2013-14 County of Orange Grant program. “We are pleased that the County is helping to celebrate art and nature through this unique project,” says Jackie Grant, Executive Director of the Museum.

Rustic artist Daniel Mack of Warwick will be the curator for the exhibit. He has worked with trees and natural materials for many years to make furniture, buildings and sculpture. Mack is currently involved with a similar project at Wildwood Park in Harrisburg, PA. “There was such variety of participants in the Harrisburg project including artists, school groups and nature educators!” says Mack “They all helped people see nature, and art, in new different ways. I’m happy we can do something similar here at the Nature Museum in Cornwall.”

The theme of the project is CYCLES. About ten proposals from applicants from Orange County and other counties in the region will be chosen to be installed for an opening just before Earth Day in 2014. It will close in mid- August. The artists selected will be paid a small honorarium to help off-set their costs. Anyone interested in applying to be a part of this project can download an application or learn more at www.hhnaturemuseum.org where “Art in the Wild” is listed under events. They can also visit the Museum’s Outdoor Discovery Center to walk the Pond Trail to get ideas for where projects might be placed.

The Visitors Center at the Outdoor Discovery Center is open on weekends through November 17th. While at the Outdoor Discovery Center, applicants should also visit Grasshopper Grove, a new and unusual nature play area which features many different opportunities for children to explore nature and natural materials. Applications are due by December 20, 2013. For more information see www.hhnaturemuseum.org under Events, or contact Daniel Mack This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.