Fused glass sculptor Michele Gutlove shares videos of latest public art installations (08-02-14)

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Verve is a hanging fused glass sculpture that graces the lobby atrium of Marieb Hall, FGCU’s health sciences building. The artwork consists of more than 400 pieces of handmade sculptural glass suspended on stainless steel cables and a custom crafted aluminum truss that is, in turn, attached to the trusses that support the building’s third floor.

Taken together, the sculptural glass represents the nuclei and dendrites of three neurons. Neurons are essentially the brain’s messengers, relaying messages electrically throughout the human brain and spinal chord. Many intricate trees of highly branched extensions called dendrites extend from the surface of each cell Nuclei and Dendrites Against Window Panesbody. They serve as receptors to collect signals from other neurons. After light enters your eye, for example, it is turned into signals that are picked up by dendrites. Neurons carry these signals almost instantaneously to various parts of the brain, prompting your eyelids to squint, the muscles in your hand and arm to catch a ball, or more neurons to create new signals that send inklings of thought darting through your brain.

The glass that Gutlove used to create her nuclei and rangy dendrites appears to be both clear and colorful as it scatters the light which floods Marieb Hall’s atrium and casts dynamic, Nucleus in Sea of Dendritescolorful reflections and refractions on the walls, floor and ceiling. That’s because each piece has a dichroic coating (see below) which causes certain wavelengths of light to either pass through or be reflected, producing an array of color to be displayed which shifts depending on the angle of view and the location of the sun or artificial light source.

Verve as Backdrop for Student at WorkVerve is site-specific as the focus of study in Marieb Hall not only relates to medical health, but social work as well. “Although human brain cells are the seeds of my inspiration for this piece, viewers will discover other imagery as they view the sculpture over time,” Gutlove adds. “My concept is that students will make their own connections, and the art will inspire curiosity, exploration and education.”

Verve Catches Morning LightWhile public art delivers myriad benefits, one of its chief functions is to engender a deeper interaction with a place by the people who visit, work and study there. Public art creates human scaling of open areas by framing the space, draws people together by inducing strangers to talk to one another, engages the faculty and student body, and adds to their visual quality of life. But good public art does more than stimulate conversation and make a space seem more welcoming. It relates to the environment in which it is located. Verve not only represents the connections that occur within the human brain, it illuminates the university’s mission by celebrating and inspiring connections students are making with each other and with their own potential.

The commission cost $61,000 and was funded by the Florida Art in Public Buildings program, an initiative started in 1979 pursuant to section 255.043 of the Florida Statutes that earmarks one-half of one percent of the amount the legislature appropriates for the construction of state buildings for the acquisition of public artworks.

Materials, Dimension and Weight

  • Verve Viewed from Marieb Hall Lobby 1Each nucleus consists of between 18 and 24 pieces of fused glass.
  • There are more than 300 dendrites.
  • The nuclei and dendrites are hung by stainless steel cables from two slightly serpentine trusses.
  • The trusses attached by clamps to the bottom cord of the steel beam that supports Marieb Hall’s third floor.
  • The entire sculpture weighs less than 200 pounds.
  • The sculpture requires minimal maintenance. “About once every year or two, it will need a light dusting.”
  • Marieb Hall houses the College of Health Sciences.
  • Florida Gulf Coast University is located at 10501 FGCU Blvd. South, Fort Myers, FL 33965.

A Word About Michele Gutlove

Michele 1Michele Gutlove has been working in glass for the last 16 years. Her formal education, however, is in architecture and years of architectural practice provides her with a strong foundation in structural engineering, solar energy and day lighting, as well as art history and painting. It also inspires her to utilize a collaborative design process involving individual clients and client groups.

“I understand the creation of large-scaled spaces, the value of attention to detail and, of course, Michele 22building codes. As an architect, I have managed teams of designers and engineers on multi-million dollar projects for institutional and commercial clients as well as self-performed design and fabrication for smaller projects.” As a painter, Gutlove possesses a passion for the interplay of color and light, and she employs her abilities and experience as an architectural renderer to communicate design intent to her glass art clients. “As a glass artist working with kiln-formed glass to create glass art installations, I celebrate the opportunity to combine all of these skills.”

Michele Gutlove 01 (4)For exterior and unprotected environments, Gutlove works with polycarbonate, and for other individual projects, she routinely works with glass temperers, safety laminators, mirror silverers, lighting consultants, aluminum and steel fabricators and other trades. “However, I personally shape and fire every piece of glass to assure conformance with design intent and quality. All of my art projects have been delivered and installed in accordance with my clients’ schedule requirements including integration into on-going construction timelines.

Michele has public art installations in:

  • Michele Gutlove 02Gainesville, FL – Elemental Energy (a suspended glass sculpture depicting flames, sparks and water commissioned by the Gainesville Regional Utilities for the lobby of their new firefighters’ training center).
  • Lauderhill, FL – Bromeliad Sunshower(a suspended glass sculpture depicting a tropical sun shower with bromeliad lilies, palm fronds, monstera deliciosa and dichroic sun and rain commissioned by the City of Lauderhill for the lobby of their new city hall).
  • Michele Gutlove 04 (2)Cedar Rapids, IA – Emergence (a tribute in glass to transformation, installed in the new Juvenile Justice Center, in which hundreds of caterpillars emerge as dichroic glass butterflies in a forest of native wildflowers, ferns, deciduous leaves, and evergreen needles).
  • Corvallis, OR – Suislaw Sunshower(impression of the Siuslaw National Forest in the atrium of the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library containing 1280 pieces of glass that represent native wildflowers, deciduous leaves and evergreen needles, pierced by the sun).
  • Petra and Michelle at the KilnMonmouth, OR – Bright Day (dynamic reflections, refractions and shadows from 20 pieces of hand-made glass create the illusion of a bright sunny day in Western Oregon University’s Werner Center).
  • Natick, MA – Western Well – Wall of Reflection (wall of fused glass mounted on mirrors in a mikvah lobby, with deep green colors below the sea fading to blues for the Earth and sky to purples for the universe beyond).
  • Michele 2New Orleans, FL – Random Thoughts (an impressionistic tribute in glass to a healthy mind, made of hundreds of pieces of hand-made glass suggesting a neuron’s nucleus, axons, and dendrites).
  • Salt Lake City, UT – Inklings, Musings and Notions (three triptychs depicting impressionistic neurons and dendrites, installed at the University of Utah’s new James L. Sorenson Molecular Biotechnology Building).
  • Springfield, MA – Aqua Luminance (a hand-formed hanging glass sculpture representing aquatic plant life growing in water towards the day-light, installed in the Daly Lobby of the Baystate Medical Center).

Images of Michele Gutlove’s other public art pieces can be viewed at www.studiogh.com.

About Her Process

There exist three traditional methods for creating art glass. The first is referred to ascold glass, of which stained glass is the chief example. Stained glass is formed by cutting and assembling pieces of cold glass together with strips of metal caning. Hot or blown glass is formed from molten glass, which is manipulated as it cools and becomes more viscous. Fused or kiln-formed glass is formed from cold glass that is manipulated as it heats up and becomes less viscous. But whereas hot or blown glass is heated to temperatures exceeding 2100 degrees Farenheit, the temperature of fused glass never exceeds 1700 degrees, prompting some to refer to it as warm glass.

Michele Gutlove works in the medium of fused glass. “My glass art works are composed of fragments or ribbons of cut glass,” she explains. They are fired multiple times, which each being slowly annealed over a period of hours or even days depending on the size, shape and complexity of each piece. “I often layer thousands of elements of transparent, iridescent and/or dichoic glass and fuse them together at temperatures between 1450-1700 degrees Farenheit until they are fully fused into a smooth sheet.” Afterward, additional layers of glass may be “tack fused” onto the smooth sheet in a slightly cooler firing (1300-1425 degrees). “These tack-fused elements add texture, enhancing the diversity of reflections when seen from different angles.”

But she’s far from done. Gutlove then gently and slowly bends the glass into sculptural forms in yet another, even cooler (1175-1275 degree) firing. “In nature, no two neurons are exactly the same,” the artist observes. “Similarly, each of the pieces of sculptural glass that I create are unique in color and form” as each is individually hand-crafted.

Cooled to an amorphous solid, each piece of Gutlove’s sculptural glass will hold its finished shape for thousands of years. “Like our planet, each piece of glass comes from a process of immense transformative heat followed by cooling,” Michele adds. “A combination of art and science, fused glass is the ideal material for this project.”

A Word About Dichroic Coatings

Dichroic is a term that normally refers to glass that is made with tiny proportions of minutely ground metals (like gold and silver) or oxides (such as titanium, chromium, aluminum, zirconium, magnesium or silica) mixed into the glass. The suspended particles in the glass cause certain wavelengths of light to either pass through or be reflected. This causes an array of color to be displayed which shifts depending on the angle of view and the location of the sun or artificial light source.

The oldest example of dichroic glass is the Lycurgus Cup, a Roman glass cage cup that can be found in the British Museum. The cup appears red when lit from behind and green when lit from in front. As a result of this optical quality, it has been described as the most spectacular glass of the period and is the only complete Roman object made from this type of glass.

Today, dichroic glass is influenced by research carried out by NASA and its contractors, who developed it for use in dichroic filters. Dichroic filters are sometimes called color separation filters because their purpose is to separate incoming visible light into separate colors or into beams of different wavelengths. Dichroic coatings achieve this color or wavelength separation with a much higher degree of accuracy than conventional filters. Applications of dichroic filters or color separation filters include color correction and light balancing, and they are found in architectural, studio and  theatrical lighting, color TV or camcorder cameras, automated color  sorting systems, color enlargers and color projectors.

The filters and coatings are made by vaporizing metals or oxides with an electron beam in a vacuum chamber. The vapor condenses on the surface of the material in the form of uni-axially arranged crystal structures. A protective layer of quartz crystal is also sometimes added. The coating that is created is very similar to a gemstone and, by careful control of thickness, different colors may be obtained.

Another artwork located on the FGCU campus that employs dichroic coatings is Depend du Soleilby Mark T. Fuller.

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Two newly-completed Gutlove commissions reflect favorably on FGCU’s ‘Verve’ (07-30-14)

Verve Viewed from Mezzanine 1On January 4, Natick, Massachusetts fused glass sculptor Michele Gutlove completed Verve, a hanging fused glass sculpture that graces the lobby atrium of Marieb Hall, Florida Gulf Coast University’s health sciences building. The artwork consists of more than 400 pieces of handmade sculptural glass suspended on stainless steel cables and a custom crafted aluminum truss that is, in turn, attached to the trusses that support the building’s third floor. Two recently-completed commissions validate the wisdom that the Marieb Hall selection committee displayed in choosing her for the FGCU project.

The first is titled Harbor, a fused glass, light and stainless steel Harbor 1commission that she completed last week for the VA Medical Center in Palo Alto, California. The sculpture welcomes visitors to the Medical Center with an impression of ocean light, reflected and refracted by the waves. “The sky is dappled with arctic terns, nature’s most worldly travelers,” Michele says of the piece. “Traveling an average of 1.5 million miles in a lifetime, arctic terns have the Harbor 7longest migration paths in the animal kingdom. The entire Earth is their home. This a place for weary wings to rest, a place of peace. This is a safe harbor.”

The VA Palo Alto Health Care System (VAPAHCS) consists of three inpatient facilities located at Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and Livermore, plus seven Harbor 3outpatient clinics in San Jose, Fremont, Capitola, Monterey, Stockton, Modesto, and Sonora. These facilities provide some of the world’s finest medical care and cutting-edge technology.  VAPAHCS is a teaching hospital, providing a full range of patient care services with state-of-the-art technology as well as education and research. Comprehensive health care is provided in areas of medicine, surgery, psychiatry, rehabilitation, neurology, oncology, dentistry, geriatrics, and extended care.

Teeming8In June, Gutlove completed a fused glass, light and stainless steel work by the name of Teeming for the fish and game research center on Kodiak Island in Alaska. In this sculpture, “sunlight is reflected and refracted by the surface of the sea while life thrives below,” relates Michele. “The Kodiak marine habitat is teeming with rockfish—china rockfish, and yellow-eye rockfish both juvenile and adult.”

Teeming2Kodiak Island is a part of an archipelago of islands including Afognak, Shuyak, and 20 smaller islands. Kodiak Island is the second-largest in the United States. Only the big island of Hawaii is larger. The Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge covers two-thirds of Kodiak Island. Twenty-three species of rockfish (Sebastes spp.) are found in the Gulf of Alaska and they are assessed each year by the fish Teeming3and game research center. Information on the biology, distribution, stock structure, fishery, population dynamics, and management of each species is provided in five stock assessment fishery evaluation (SAFE) documents. These are produced annually for the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council (NPFMC).

Teeming5The China rockfish is almost entirely black except for a yellow or yellow-white stripe that runs from the anterior portion of the dorsal fin along the lateral line to the tail. It also has yellowish-white speckles all over its body. China rockfish range from Kachemak Bay, northern Gulf of Alaska to Redondo Beach and San Nicolas Island in southern California, but they are most abundant Teeming6from southeastern Alaska to Sonoma County, California. They are found at depths up to 420 feet, but are most common between 30 and 300 feet. The juveniles are pelagic but the adults are sedentary, associated with rocky reefs or cobble. Adults are solitary, territorial, and residential, traveling less than a meter from their home range of 33 square feet. They are generally found resting Teeming7on the bottom or hiding in crevices. China rockfish live to at least 79 years. Based on a calculated age-length relationship, a 10-in. TL China rockfish is approximately 6-7 years old and a 12-in. TL fish is approximately 9-10 years old. A maximum length of 18 inches has been recorded for this species.

Yellow-eye rockfish are very large rockfish that reach Teeming1up to 3.5 feet (~1 m) in length and 39 pounds (18 kg) in weight. They are orange-red to orange-yellow in color and may have black on their fin tips. Their eyes are bright yellow. Adults usually have a light to white stripe on the lateral line; juveniles have 2 light stripes, one on the lateral line and a shorter one below the lateral line. Yellow-eye rockfish occur in waters 80 to 1,560 feet (25 to 475 m) deep, but are most commonly found between 300 to 590 feet (91 to 180 m). Yelloweye rockfish range from northern Teeming4Baja California to the Aleutian Islands, Alaska, but are most common from central California northward to the Gulf of Alaska. Their numbers have been declining due to overfishing and environmental factors.
As a result, various state restrictions on fishing have been put in place over the years leading to the current ban on retention of yelloweye rockfish in Washington in 2003. Because this species is slow growing, late to mature, and long-lived, recovery from these threats will take many years, even if the threats are no longer affecting the species.

Public artworks like Teeming draw attention to the fragility of the Alaskan ecology and these and other species of fish and game.

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Broken fineal makes fast friends of fused glass artists Petra Kaiser and Michele Gutlove (01-19-14)

Nuclei with FinealThe phone rang as glass artist Petra Kaiser was tinkering in her studio early Saturday evening a couple of weeks ago. Lucas Century’s voice came over the line. An artist he’d lost a commission to over at FGCU had broken a key component in the hanging fused glass sculpture she was installing in Marieb Hall and needed access to a kiln. “Would you mind if I have her call you?” Century asked hopefully. During the past 35 years, Century has explored and developed pioneering techniques that allow him to etch text and images onto glass with unparalleled clarity and depth, but since he doesn’t work in the medium of fused or warm glass, he doesn’t have a kiln. But he knew that Kaiser did.

Petra and Michelle at the Kiln“Sure,” Petra (in yellow) answered without hesitation. “Have her call me.” Kaiser hadn’t heard anything about Natick, Massachusetts glass sculptor Michele Gutlove or her FGCU pulic art project, Verve. “The first time I heard about the project was when Lucas called,” Petra recounts. But that didn’t matter. An internationally-renowned artist and instructor in the art of kiln formed glass, Kaiser knows all too well how easy it is to break a piece of fused glass. She was only too happy to help a fellow artist in need. So when Gutlove (in green) called minutes later, Petra assured her that her studio had everything Michele needed to repair or replace the broken piece.

The Installation TeamThirty minutes later (the commute from FGCU normally takes 40), Gutlove and her entourage (right) arrived. Petra showed the slightly-flummoxed Gutlove to her studio, perched in the second story above her garage. “We broke a fineal,” Gutlove told her breathlessly, revealing a yellow-orange piece of ornamental glass that had fractured right down the middle. “My husband broke it as he was snipping the steel cable that attaches the entire nucleus to the truss,” Michele explained. “I made spares for the other hanging pieces, but not the fineals. They’re so small, I never figured any of them would break.”

Moving Dendrites Up and Down 1Gutlove’s commission, Verve, is comprised of more than 400 pieces of fused glass that are suspended by stainless steel cables from a truss that Gutlove and her team installed on the underside of the Marieb Hall ceiling, two stories above the atrium lobby floor. Taken together, the sculptural glass represents the nuclei and dendrites of three neurons. Neurons are essentially the brain’s messengers, relaying messages electrically throughout the human brain and spinal chord. Photographing a Job Well Done 1Many intricate trees of highly branched extensions called dendrites extend from the surface of each cell body. They serve as receptors to collect signals from other neurons. “The artwork not only represents the connections that occur within the human brain, it illuminates the university’s mission by celebrating and inspiring connections students are making with each other and with their own potential.” And it’s an appropriate addition to a building whose focus not only relates to medical health, but social work as well.

The fineal was the end piece of the last of the three nuclei. If she couldn’t fix it in Kaiser’s studio,Petra and Michele Pack New FinealGutlove knew she’d have to cast a new piece when she returned to Massachusetts, hop a plane back to Fort Myers and hire another scissor lift to put the piece in place. The additional expense would be a killer, but not finishing the work in time for the start of classes on January 5 was the part that Gutlove couldn’t wrap her mind around. And what she really needed was a fresh piece of glass from which to cast a brand new fineal. But what were the chances that Kaiser would have the type, color and thickness she needed?

Kaiser has hundreds of pieces of fusing glass. Sculptors scrounge, scrounge, scrounge and never throw anything away. “I think I have what you’re looking for over here,” Petra said, rummaging through some inventory. In less than two minutes, she pulled out exactly what Gutlove needed. Luck? Serendipity? Or just plain kismet? Michele leaped at the glass.

But Petra did more than just offer Gutlove a piece of fusing glass. She opened her entire studio to Michele. And not just for an hour or two. In order to fuse, drape and complete the new fineal, Michele would Halfway There Last Nuclei 6have to put the glass into the kiln in three successive steps that night and the next day. It was tantamount to having an unexpected overnight guest. “We all agreed it was a great opportunity to meet,” says Petra. “And I got to see some beautiful work.” Kaiser drove over to FGCU that Monday to see the completed work and watch the reaction of faculty and students as they returned from Christmas break to find a stunning new artwork adorning the atrium of the health sciences building. ”

Michele Supervises Finishing Touches 5The compliment is especially meaningful coming from Kaiser. She’s been working in fused glass since 1997. But over the ensuing 15 years, Petra has done more than merely develop a distinctive style (which captures the Florida sun, light and water in sculptures, functional glassware and wearable designs). She has forged innovative techniques that have vaulted her to the forefront in her chosen medium. And she doesn’t just share those breakthroughs with the students who take her classes and workshops. Petra has published three books on her fused glass techniques and methodology, as well as numerous articles in various international glass magazines.

Capturing Completed Work on Film 1“I never heard of Kaiser Lee Board, but I can’t wait to try it out in my next project,” Gutlove mused as she put the finishing touches on Verve after putting the new fineal in place the following night. Kaiser Lee Board is a molding medium Petra and her husband, Wolfgang, “found.” Because it can be easily carved and fired at full fuse temperatures countless times, it uniquely enables warm glass artists like Petra and Michele to create any shape or design they want in their sculptural glass pieces or components.

False Perspective 1“In the end, we thanked Michele’s husband for breaking the fineal,” Petra chuckles. The two are now fast friends. Even before it was completed,Verve was apparently at work inspiring connections and helping those who come in contact with it to tap into their creativity and reach their full potential.

Verve is part of the Florida Art in Public Buildings program, an initiative started in 1979 pursuant to section 255.043 of the Florida Statutes, which earmarks 0ne-half of one percent of the amount the legislature appropriates for the construction of state buildings for the acquisition of public artworks.

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Fused glass sculpture, ‘Verve,’ nears completion in FGCU’s Marieb Hall (01-05-14)

Halfway There Last Nuclei 6Work continues inside FGCU’s Marieb Hall as glass sculptor Michele Gutlove and her installation team work to complete Vervein time for the start of classes on Monday, January 6. When completed, the hanging fused glass sculpture will replicate the nuclei and dendrites of a neuron.

There exist three traditional methods for creating art glass. The first is referred to as cold glass, of which stained glass is the chief example. Stained glass is formed by cutting and assembling pieces of cold glass together with strips of metal caning. Hot or blown glass is formed from molten glass, which is manipulated as it cools and becomes more viscous. Fused or kiln-formed glass is formed from cold glass that is manipulated as it heats up and becomes less viscous. But whereas hot or blown glass is heated to temperatures exceeding 2100 degrees Farenheit, the temperature of fused glass never exceeds 1700 degrees, prompting some to refer to it as warm glass.

Michele Gutlove works in the medium of fused or warm glass.

Halfway There Last Nuclei 2“My glass art works are composed of fragments or ribbons of cut glass,” she explains. They are fired multiple times, which each being slowly annealed over a period of hours or even days depending on the size, shape and complexity of the piece. “I often layer thousands of elements of transparent, iridescent and/or dichoic glass and fuse them together at temperatures between 1450-1700 degrees Farenheit until they are fully fused into a smooth sheet.” Afterward, additional layers of glass may be “tack fused” onto the smooth sheet in a slightly cooler firing (1300-1425 degrees). “These tack-fused elements add texture, enhancing the diversity of reflections when seen from different angles.”

Halfway There 6But she’s far from done. Gutlove then gently and slowly bends the glass into sculptural forms in yet another, even cooler (1175-1275 degree) firing. “In nature, no two neurons are exactly the same,” the artist observes. “Similarly, each of the pieces of sculptural glass that I create are unique in color and form” as each is individually hand-crafted.

The glass in Verve is coated with dichroic crystals. This step is farmed out to a firm in California, which grows the crystals they use.Halfway There 5In all, 12 boxes were required to ship the glass Gutlove fired for Verve. Each piece had to be individually sheathed in bubble wrap, and each box was placed in a larger box that contained a bubble wrap buffer in case the outer box was bumped, crushed or otherwise damaged. “None of the 400+ pieces I sent to California was broken,” Gutlove proudly proclaims. And only a few pieces were broken in transit from California to Marieb Hall. But just in case, Gutlove makes about 10 percent more glass than she intends to use so that she has replacement parts in case of breakage.

Halfway There Last Nuclei 5The completed sculptural glass will hold its finished shape for thousands of years. “Like our planet, each piece of glass comes from a process of immense transformative heat followed by cooling,” Michele observes. “A combination of art and science, fused glass is the ideal material for this project.”

Verve is part of the Florida Art in Public Buildings program, an initiative started in 1979 pursuant to section 255.043 of the Florida Statutes, which earmarks 0ne-half of one percent of the amount the legislature appropriates for the construction of state buildings for the acquisition of public artworks.

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Work continues on ‘Verve’ installation in FGCU’s Marieb Hall (01-04-14)

Installing Neuron 2 EWork continued yesterday on the installation of a new public artwork in FGCU’s Marieb Hall. Titled, Verve, the artwork features more than 400 crystal-coated fused glass pieces suspended from an all-aluminum truss attached to the top of the atrium located in the building’s lobby.

While public art delivers myriad benefits, one of its chief functions is to engender a deeper interaction with a place by the people who visit, work and study there. Public art creates human scaling of open areas by framing the space, draws people together by inducing strangers to talk to one another, engages the faculty and student body, and adds to their visual quality of life. But good public art does more than stimulate conversation and make a space seem more welcoming. It relates to the environment in which it is located, a goal sculptor Michele Gutlove has accomplished by creating hundreds of pieces of fused glass to conjure the nuclei and dendrites of three neurons.

Neuron 1“Neurons are essentially the brain’s messengers, relaying messages electronically throughout the human brain and spinal chord,” Gutlove explains. “Many intricate trees of highly branched extensions called dendrites extend from the surface of each cell body and serve as receptors to collect signals from other neurons.” After light enters your eye, for example, it is turned into signals that are picked up by dendrites. Neurons carry these signals almost instantaneously to various parts of the brain, prompting your eyelids to squint, the muscles in your hand and arm to catch a ball, or more neurons to create new signals that send inklings of thought darting through your brain.

Installing Neuron 2 BGutlove’s installation team consists of husband, Jeff, who is, like Michele, an architect, daughter Aliza, and son, Zev, as well as family friends Caitlyn Thompson and Malcolm Littlefield. And like the sculptor’s fused glass neurons, her team was firing last night on all synapses as they carried out the delicate task of assembling a nucleus and then attaching it atop a fully-extended scissor lift to the truss that bisects the ceiling of the lobby atrium. Each team member, wearing white T-shirts that identify them as “Authorized Personnel,” has their own highly-honed area of expertise that is “age oblivious.”

Installing Neuron 2 DAt times, older sister Aliza took instruction from younger brother Zev, and both teens took turns guiding their father as he maneuvered the scissor lift up and down and back and forth as they installed the second of three nuclei, mindful of the fact that any errant bump or jostle could spell disaster for the all glass artwork. “It’s actually a lot of fun,” Michele explained as she watched the install from the corner of her eye. The family typically drives to the site of each commission and engages in unabashed sightseeing on the return trip. “Although that won’t be possible this time,” Gutlove adds, “since I have to be in Norway in a few days to do a presentation for a new public artwork they want me to install there.”

Neuron 2 A“I think we’re about on schedule,” Jeff estimated, when asked if they’ll finish up by the start of classes on Monday. It may take two more 18-hour days, but if the team continues to work together like a well-oiled machine, returning students will have an astonishing hanging glass sculpture to admire when they enter the lobby of Marieb Hall on January 6.

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Ahead of the storm, Michele Gutlove, family and friends begin installation of ‘Verve’ (01-02-14)

Installation Day 1 Jan 2 HIf glass sculptor Michele Gutlove has her way, a new public artwork will greet students returning for classes at Florida Gulf Coast University on Monday. And she’s not about to let a little thing like Winter Storm Hercules to get in her way.

“I like snow,” Gutlove confessed during a break on Day 1 of work on Verve,  a hanging fused glass sculpture that will grace the lobby atrium of Marieb Hall, the Health Sciences building that was completed last year. Installation Day 1 Jan 2 AWhich is fortunate, because once she finishes work here, the Natick, Massachusetts artist is off to Norway to make a presentation for yet another commission there. The sculptor is in high demand, with projects also planned in Palo Alta, California and El Paso, Texas.

Gutlove already has public art installations in:

  • Gainesville, FL – Elemental Energy (a suspended glass sculpture depicting flames, sparks and water commissioned by the Gainesville Regional Utilities for the lobby of their new firefighters’ training center).
  • Installation Day 1 Jan 2 BLauderhill, FL – Bromeliad Sunshower (a suspended glass sculpture depicting a tropical sun shower with bromeliad lilies, palm fronds, monstera deliciosa and dichroic sun and rain commissioned by the City of Lauderhill for the lobby of their new city hall).
  • Cedar Rapids, IA – Emergence (a tribute in glass to transformation, installed in the new Juvenile Justice Center, in which hundreds of caterpillars emerge as dichroic glass butterflies in a forest of native wildflowers, ferns, deciduous leaves, and evergreen needles).
  • Corvallis, OR – Suislaw Sunshower (impression of the Siuslaw National Forest in the atrium of the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library containing 1280 pieces of glass that represent native wildflowers, deciduous leaves and evergreen needles, pierced by the sun).
  • Monmouth, OR – Bright Day (dynamic reflections, refractions and shadows from 20 pieces of hand-made glass create the illusion of a bright sunny day in Western Oregon University’s Werner Center).
  • Installation Day 1 Jan 2 CNatick, MA – Western Well – Wall of Reflection (wall of fused glass mounted on mirrors in a mikvah lobby, with deep green colors below the sea fading to blues for the Earth and sky to purples for the universe beyond).
  • New Orleans, FL – Random Thoughts (an impressionistic tribute in glass to a healthy mind, made of hundreds of pieces of hand-made glass suggesting a neuron’s nucleus, axons, and dendrites).
  • Installation Day 1 Jan 2 DSalt Lake City, UT – Inklings, Musings and Notions (three triptychs depicting impressionistic neurons and dendrites, installed at the University of Utah’s new James L. Sorenson Molecular Biotechnology Building).
  • Springfield, MA – Aqua Luminance (a hand-formed hanging glass sculpture representing aquatic plant life growing in water towards the day-light, installed in the Daly Lobby of the Baystate Medical Center).

Dichroic glass 03Although educated and trained as an architect, she has been working in glass sculpture for the past 16 years. But her architectural background gives her a strong foundation in structural engineering, solar energy and day lighting, as well as an intimate understanding of the creation of large-scaled spaces, the value of attention to detail and, of course, building codes.

Dichroic glass 01 (2)When completed, Verve will sport handmade sculptural glass suspended by stainless steel cables from a custom-crafted aluminum truss that represent neurons and dendrites and relates to the celebration of human communication. “The artwork will illuminate the university’s mission byDichroic glass 02celebrating and inspiring connections students are making with each other and with their own potential,” Gutlove notes. “Although human brain cells are the seeds of my inspiration for this piece, viewers will discover other imagery as they view the sculpture over time. My concept is that students will make their own connections, and the art will inspire curiosity, exploration and education.”

Dichroic glass 05 (2)Gutlove has yet to uncrate the boxes of glass stacked neatly in the southwest corner of the Marieb Hall lobby. She and her team spent the day assembling the truss so that it can be hoisted into place with the green scissor lift that was delivered to the building this morning for that very purpose. It’s a process that requires a team of trusted installers, which in Gutlove’s case consists of her husband, Jeff, children Zev and Aliza, and family friends Caitlyn Thompson and Malcolm Littlefield.

Littlefield almost didn’t make it to Florida. “He was still in Massachusetts this morning, clearing away snow,” Gutlove chuckled. “His was one of the last flights out before they closed Logan International.” But then again, Winter Storm Hercules wouldn’t dare get in this artist’s way.

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