A Collaboration of Paper and Glass07/05/2023 07:00AM ● By Suzy Magill
Steamboat Springs, CO - Which came first: the glass or the paper? For Jennifer Baker and Sandi Poltorak’s interplay of mediums, it’s both. Glass. Glass and Paper. Paper debuts July 7, 2023 at Pine Moon Fine Art on this month’s First Friday Artwalk.
Since Jennifer and Sandi first collaborated on a 40-foot mural for the Sleeping Giant School (along with artist Jill Bergman), Jennifer’s glass and Sandi’s paper have played well together, and the same goes for the artists themselves.
Sandi’s technical drawing skills create hyper-realistic pencil scenes, often of animals, but she first started drawing with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, doing sketch composites for criminals. When she retired to the Yampa Valley, Sandi wanted to draw things “on the happy side of life,” as she puts it.
Jennifer’s kiln-formed glass is looser than Sandi’s more technical pencil work (the former says she doesn’t like straight edges), but when layered, the two mediums create a play between lines, light, and shadow that adds a unique dimension to the art.
The first two joint pieces were both of Rocky Mountain natives: a sandhill crane and a black bear.
The crane piece, “Grace,” features a beautiful sandhill crane with its iconic red cap and iron-dusted feathers behind glass reeds and red flowers. The bear piece, dubbed “Mischief Maker,” shows a black bear sitting (and seemingly plotting) between flowy glass aspens and patches of wildflowers.
“He looks like he’s sitting there contemplating the next bout of trouble he’s going to get into,” says Jennifer.
The two artists have a connection where creativity constantly flows. Looking at the finished piece, their eyes both light up with more ideas, laughing that they should have added a bird feeder for the black bears constantly confused by the bird feeders in Sandi’s yard.
“Aren’t they fun?” Sandi asks. “They just make you smile.”
One of the most stunning pieces from their collaboration is of an indigenous woman. Black and white pencil contrasted against vibrant glass, but the explosions of color on either side of the piece came by accident.
In this case, the glass came first, and as Jennifer worked, cutting and placing tiny tiles, piles of extra glass accumulated on either side of the woman.
“When I finished putting my glass tiles down, I backed away, and I had pieces here, and I had pieces here, and I was gonna brush them off to clean it up,” explains Jennifer. “But I stood back for a minute and thought, ‘I really like the color in there. I don’t know if I want to clean these up.”
Jennifer consulted with Sandi, and they decided the pieces should stay, brightening up the originally all-white background and matching the movement of the drawing.
“It felt like it was not only built into the piece but almost a part of the celebration,” Jennifer says.
The piece, called “Celebrate,” was not easy for either artist. In the first phase, Jennifer worked hours cutting and aligning tiles, the slightest bump forcing her to start over. In the next phase, as Sandi started in on the pencil, it was a constant shifting and lifting of the glass overlay to ensure the lines of her art and Jennifer’s matched. The work was worth it for such a remarkable piece, but the picture also means more than its beauty. As two women artists working on a piece that features a woman, Jennifer and Sandi felt incredibly moved by this powerful image of a native woman celebrating.
“I’m sure you’re aware of the sadness of all these indigenous women that have been murdered or disappeared off reservations,” says Sandi. “We want to donate part of this to the effort to find those women or determine what happened to them.”
A portion of the proceeds from “Celebrate” will be donated to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, an initiative through the organization Native Hope.
“Celebrate,” “Grace” and “Mischief Maker” can all be seen at Pine Moon this Friday, along with other joint pieces and solo work from both Sandi and Jennifer.
Pine Moon Fine Art, located at 117 9th Street, is open this Friday, July 7, from 5-8 p.m. during First Friday ArtWalk. For more information on Pine Moon Fine Art, visit: https://www.pinemoonfineart.com/