Amazing Glass Art on Display

Artist David Ruth reveals hidden worlds in glass at new light-filled East Bay show
David Ruth
Photos: Arun Nevader
David Ruth
At Ruth's light-filled Oakland exhibition space.
David Ruth
David Ruth and his work.
David Ruth
Close up of one of one of Ruth's pieces in the Oakland show.

The work of glass artist David Ruth requires astounding temperatures to create and bright light to best appreciate. That's why his current show of cast glass sculptures is so appealing.

You can see his work, along with that of painter Maya Kabat, in the amply light-filled lobby of a high-rise office building at 555 12th Street in Oakland, near the city's beautiful City Hall and a short walk from the 12th Street BART. The show, put together by the Oakland gallery SLATE Contemporary, runs through March 24.

"These pieces," Ruth says in a 2014 interview, "the more light, the better they are. You beam light on them, and they come alive.

"Its just the nature of glass."

Ruth, who grew up in two glass-walled modern houses by Berkeley architect Donald Olsen, has been a pioneer in the art glass movement since the 1970s. His work, a kind of abstract expressionism with a touch of the aquatic, involves floating glass 'trails' of his own creation in large, clear glass panels.

Ruth, who lives and works in Oakland, has created large glass installations, including a hundred-foot-long undersea-themed mural at Tokyo DisneySea. There are a number of his public installations throughout the Bay Area. He creates many freestanding sculptures and smaller pieces as well.

The result, after firing and long, long cooling, are unique works that suggest, to Ruth, interior worlds of the mind. They are fascinating to look at—ribbons of colored glass floating, blending, oozing, as if alive at times, with tiny air bubbles adding to the effect, along with touches of what seems to be Asian calligraphy.

"I like to say there's an alchemical aspect to it," Ruth says of his work. "But in fact there's a little bit of science too. Its engineering was one of the things that attracted me to [glass].

"It also has a rigor about it, a material rigor, that kind of forces you to take certain things into account when you're making it. You can't just throw in anything."

For more on David Ruth's high-rise showing, click here. To see more of his work, click here.