Like it or not, Rhode Island is - and probably always be - Chihuly country. By “Chihuly”, of course, I mean Dale Chihuly, the frizzy-haired former Rhode Island School of Design professor who is to contemporary glassmaking roughly what Steve Jobs was to high-tech electronics.
Still, the Chihuly model isn’t for everyone.
A case in point is Beth Lipman, a Wisconsin- based sculptor and glassmaker whose work is the focus of a marvelous exhibit at Cade Tompkins Projects. Consisting of about a dozen pieces, including both large and small glass sculptures and a series of mesmerizing digital transfer prints - the show is everything your typical Chihuly installation isn’t: cool, cerebral, understated and nearly color-free.
It’s also ravishingly beautiful. Partly, that’s a testament to Lipman’s glassmaking skills, which seemingly can translate almost anything - animal, mineral or vegetable - into the crystalline medium of glass. It also helps that Lipman has embraced a subject - the traditional Old Master still life - that allows her work to seem old and new, familiar and strange, at the same time.
Of special note is a group of digital transfer prints commissioned by the gallery owner Cade Tompkins. Printed on large sheets of clear plexiglas, they manage to capture both the physical scale and the wonderful luminosity of Lipman’s sculptures. Rather than mere copies, they deserve to be considered as works of art in their own right.
“Beth Lipman: Yours Always” runs through Jan. 14 at Cade Tompkins Projects, 198 Hope Street, Providence. Hours. Saturdays 10-6 and by appointment. Contact: (401) 751-4888 or cadetompkins.com