Jeri Dantzig’s glasswork adds a splash of color to the Night Heron Gallery

Glass work by Jeri Dantzig.
 

If you’ve visited the Artisan’s Festival, or the Chilmark or Featherstone Flea Markets in the past few years, you’ve surely noticed the work of Jeri Dantzig. The Vineyard Haven artist has one of the most colorful collections in the Vineyard art world. She creates stunning pieces — both tableware and works of art — using fused glass. Her designs tend to be bold, often playful, and always colorful.

“I’ve always been a visual person and I’ve always been a color person,” the petite Ms. Dantzig said. Her fun, design-oriented personal style proves her claim.

Glass work by Jeri Dantzig.

Glass work by Jeri Dantzig.

Ms. Dantzig began working with glass in 2000. Prior to that, she was in the food and beverage business for many years, working for luxury hotels in New York and San Francisco before opening her own restaurant, the former Stripers in Vineyard Haven.

In 2000, she took a class in glass fusing at the Corning Museum of Glass and started experimenting with stained glass. That pastime became a bit of an obsession. She took more classes and set up a studio with a glass kiln in her home. Eventually, she decided to ditch the restaurant business and focus full time on art.

“I love working with glass,” Ms. Dantzig said. “It’s sensual and practical. I love the colors and the combination possibilities. When you’re doing really high-temperature work, there’s always a little bit of mystery. That’s what makes it exciting.”

Ms. Dantzig started small with little dishes and jewelry items. As her skills expanded, so did her designs. Her tableware collection now includes large decorative serving pieces, and she eventually branched out into barstool seats, wall hangings, and even fully three-dimensional works of art.

“As I learned more, I began to experiment,” Ms. Dantzig said. “There’s a real science to glass — the time and the temperature. Once you learn the science of it, it’s much easier to manipulate.”

Ms. Dantzig recently joined the artists collective at the Night Heron Gallery in Vineyard Haven. She will be showing her work along with nine other artists whose media includes photography, ceramics, clothing, bags, jewelry, book and paper art, and more.

Having a dedicated space will allow Ms. Dantzig to show more of her art. Along with her Vineyard home studio with two kilns, she recently added a working studio with a much larger kiln to her winter home in Florida. This will allow her to spend more time on production in the off-season, and to create larger pieces.

Glass work by Jeri Dantzig.

Glass work by Jeri Dantzig.

Ms. Dantzig’s sculptural works include wall hangings and free-standing panels — some featuring stripes or isolated areas of color ala the color field painters like Mark Rothko. Other pieces are more traditionally abstract, with artful swirls and blotches floating in a clear glass background. Some of her recent pieces use fused glass in a stained glass style with multiple elements pieced together for a contemporary yet primitive look.

Ms. Dantzig often does commissions. Some of her more unusual pieces are a series of life-sized torsos, molded from the subject’s body. On these pieces, she creates wonderful swirling designs, turning the human figure into a fanciful work of art. This past year, Ms. Dantzig took a course in casting which will allow her to expand her repertoire even more.

The Night Heron Gallery, which was founded in 2011, is a cooperative art space manned and maintained by the 10 artist/owners. Ms. Dantzig is the most recent member. The gallery will feature her artwork and her tableware pieces, barstools, and small tables.

Any choice can lend a pop of color and a bit of fun to a home. “I love the tableware,” Ms. Dantzig said. “You just get this great energizing color that you can keep out all the time and use. I love doing functional ware.”

Glass work by Jeri Dantzig.

Glass work by Jeri Dantzig.

Energized is a good word to describe both the artist’s work and the artist herself. Ms. Dantzig is a very outgoing, energetic woman who loves to chat and joke with her customers. Although she’s shown her work at various galleries and juried art shows around the east coast, the artist especially likes the one-on-one experiences. “I prefer doing shows where I can sell directly. It’s social,” she said. “I have a lot of return customers. I’ve made some very dear friends who started out as customers.”

Ms. Dantzig can be found this summer at the Featherstone Flea Market and the Holiday Vineyard Artisans Festivals. (She will no longer be doing the weekly festival shows).

 

The Night Heron Gallery will reopen for the season on Friday, April 1, with an opening party from 5 to 7:30 pm.

 

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