First Friday reception Sep. 1, 7-9pm
Sponsored by Chuck & Robbie Breaux
Debby needed someone to grind steel for her. After nearly 30 years of metalworking, the arthritis that had been creeping up in her joints was proving to be quite a nuisance. Robert, a glassblower and all-around handyman, needed somewhere to park the tiny house he had built and had been towing around cumbersomely on a trailer. Debby’s yard, on a hillside overlooking Mt. Sopris, would be a more than halfway decent spot, provided he and Debby could stand each other’s eccentricities. In the end much more came to pass than a mere exchange of services; luckily what did was for the benefit of all parties, including The Art Center.
The strong inter-generational friendship that resulted between Debby Flug and Robert Burch has influenced their individual studio practices and led to fruitful collaborations. All of this is on display in 65 – 26, an exhibition of Burch and Flug’s work that runs for the month of September in The Art Center’s North and Atrium galleries. Flug and Burch are multimedia artists; Burch’s primary material is glass, which he combines with wood and abandoned industrial parts to dramatic, alchemical effect. 65 – 26 will debut his process of pouring bronze into glass. Flug is a painter, sculptor, and transformer of found objects. Her collage and assemblage art pieces contain elements of pop and folk art traditions. Together their work is at once rough and delicate, raw emotion and refined idea.
An ambitious approach to craftsmanship and form belies certain social underpinnings. In Burch and Flug’s own words, “We hope to provide a light-hearted glimpse into our views on the state of the world. The work unavoidably engages with the political climate. Statements are subtle and balanced like the sculpture itself. These pieces are meant to allow viewers to draw their own conclusions. The goal is for people to leave feeling inspired, and questioning their own opinions.”
Robert Burch began working with glass at the age of 16. After graduating from high school in Carbondale, Colorado, he went to work for Tadashi Torii in Atlanta, Georgia. Subsequently he moved to Seattle and worked as a gaffer, cold worker, shipping supervisor, and metal fabricator for some of the world’s most skilled glass artists, including Martin Blank. Through Blank, Burch landed an apprenticeship with Dale Chihuly’s team of glassblowers, assisting with experimental color research and development for the Persian Series within Chihuly, Inc. He returned to Colorado in 2016 and has worked as an independent artist since then, both locally and globally.
Debby Flug grew up in Denton, Texas, and makes art “‘cause I can’t stop myself.” She attended the University of Texas, where she majored in “goofing off,” and moved to Saginaw, Michigan, in the 1970s. There she enrolled in art classes at Delta College and suddenly became a straight-A student, working primarily in photography. Debby went on to study at the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit, where her professors encouraged her to expand into painting, and eventually at the School of Visual Arts in New York from 1983 to 1985. She then moved to Aspen, Colorado, where she took up metal sculpture. She has resided in Carbondale since 2002.
Above: On the Wings of Bees #1 (Burch & Flug collaborative piece)