From Cecile Oreste at danceDC
About seven years ago, DC native Robert Wiener attended the visual and performing art showcase Artomatic. At the event, a glass installation caught his eye and he decided to purchase the piece. He later ran into the artist who created the glass installation and was invited to attend an art glass class at his school. Twenty or so classes later, Wiener knew that creating glass art was something he wanted to pursue.
In addition to taking classes in the DC area, Wiener learned different glass art techniques from instructors at The Studio at the Corning Museum of Glass in New York. At Corning, one of his teachers encouraged Wiener to take a step back and explore what glass art meant to him. In response, he stopped taking classes to focus on creating his own style which he continues to refine today.
You can tour Wiener’s studio space on Corcoran Street NW during Mid City Artists Open Studios weekend, Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 6-7.
Wiener’s glass art has a distinct look. Most of his work is part of the Colorbar Murrine Series, which he developed by joining the hot glass technique with the kilnformed, warm glass process. He also incorporates mosaic techniques to create impressive multi-color designs. According to Wiener, one of the biggest compliments he receives is when people recognize his work even if it is not clearly labeled with his name.
When Wiener first started out, he participated in wholesale retail shows in Baltimore, Philadelphia and other major cities. He would exhibit his work at a booth and would be approached by gallery and store owners alike. Wiener preferred using this method to generate interest in his work instead of sending information in the mail to various art organizations.
Since pursuing his glass art full time, Wiener has exhibited at local retail store go mama go!, as well as at his studio on Corcoran Street NW. He is part of The Foundry and Mid City Artists, among other organizations and has won awards for his work including ‘Best in Show’ at the Creative Crafts Council’s 25th Biennial Exhibition Awards.
Before finding his artistic passion, Wiener worked in the finance and accounting industry for 20 years. Despite being a completely different field, he sees a number of similarities between the two. Both require attention to detail and involve meticulous work. Wiener admits he was a bit nervous to pursue art after working in finance but was pleasantly surprised by the warm welcome he received from the community.
Although Wiener had success transitioning between two very different industries, he warns other aspiring artists to be hesitant. “It’s very tough right now to support yourself with art. If you’re going to go for it, it’s important to get involved with the local art community. It’s a good way to start,” he said.
“The most important thing to do is create your own style and find what speaks to you, not what other artists are doing. Create something meaningful to you.”
If you’re interested in learning more about Wiener and his glass art, visit www.dcartglass.com. His work is regularly on display at The Foundry Gallery near Dupont Circle. You can also tour his studio space on Corcoran Street NW during Mid City Artists Open Studios weekend, Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 6-7.