Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce

JOSH SIMPSON ARTISTRY SHINES AT WESTFIELD STATE DOWNTOWN ART GALLERY

Westfield State University’s Downtown Art Gallery presents its current exhibit “A Galaxy of Glass: The Luminous World of Josh Simpson” which will be on display through October 13.

Western Mass. artist Josh Simpson learned the art of glass blowing at Goddard College in 1972 and has been working with glass ever since. Simpson made his first glass planet to entertain visiting school children, but they are now one of his trademark designs. He has become one of the most prolific and successful glass artists in the country.

Simpson’s glasswork can be seen at the Smithsonian Institute, the Boston Museum of Fine Art, the Corning Museum of Glass, the Yale University Art Gallery and museums in Prague, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland and Canada. Public Television has also produced two documentaries on his craftsmanship and another is currently in the works.

 “A Galaxy of Glass” is part of The Universe According to Josh Simpson, a unique city-wide celebration of the creative arts as inspired by the work of the glass artist. The exhibit includes inhabited vases, vessels and tektites, baskets, portals, platters, planets and megaplanets. 

Bob Plasse, development/gifts officer of Advancement and University Relations, said that spectators at the opening event were surprised by the variety of Simpson’s work. 

“Many folks were struck by the incredible range of art on display. “ Plasse said. “There are striking examples of Josh’s artistry including examples from his early work through the present day.”

The walls of the gallery are adorned with Mike Rossi’s photography of Simpson’s planets. 

“Mike Rossi developed a photographic technique to encompass round objects on film, and his photos speak to intricacies of Josh’s work,” Plasse said.  “This exhibit gives spectators an opportunity to really compare photographic examples of Simpsonian megaplanets with the real thing.”

The Westfield State University Downtown Art Gallery is located at 105 Elm Street in Westfield. It will be offering extended hours during the duration of Josh’s glass exhibit: Sunday, noon-4 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday, 2-5:00 p.m., Thursday, 2-7:00 p.m., and Saturday, noon- 5:00 p.m.

Currently, there are two additional Josh Simpson exhibits in conjunction with The Universe According to Josh Simpson: “Earth, Sea and Sky Scapes: the Elements of Josh Simpson at the Jasper Rand Gallery of the Westfield Athenaeum at 6 Elm Street and “Through the Lens of Mike Rossi: Josh Simpson Revealed”   at Pilgrim Candle Marketplace at 16 Union Avenue.  A fourth exhibit, “Inspired Explorations: Josh Simpson and Friends,”will open in September at the Arno Maris Gallery at Westfield State.

Funding for The Universe According to Josh Simpson is provided by The Kiwanis Club of Westfield, Shurtleff Children’s Services, Inc., United Bank, the Westfield Bank Future Fund, the Westfield Bank Future Fund and the Westfield Cultural Council, a local program of the Massachusetts Cultural Council with in-kind assistance provided by Westfield State University, the Westfield Business Improvement District, and the City of Westfield.

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