Smooth to the touch

Glass artist showcasing work in County Building

More than 70 glass works by Santa Cruz artist Heather Richman are currently on display at the Santa Cruz County Building, 701 Ocean St., through an ongoing series put on by Arts Council Santa Cruz County.

The works, showing on the first and fifth floors, showcase a wide range of her work, from fused/slumped glass, lampwork, and powdered glass on copper and will be showing through the first week of July.

One body of Richman’s show includes her “Caribbean Series” on the first floor, which include various works in fused/slumped glass, from small dishes to sushi plates, in radiant colors typical of those of the Caribbean.

“I love these bright colors and they show well in glass,” Richman said. “A lot of my work is inspired by the ocean, so I’ve developed a wide variety of works I call ocean ornaments.”

Indeed, in showcases on the fifth floor Richman has assembled scores of small such ornaments that depict jellyfish, otters, see shells and other sea creatures.

“For as long as I remember, I have expressed myself through artwork,” she wrote in an artist’s statement. “My mother was a painter and an art professor, and I spent many summers with her traveling and painting in Mexico and Europe. Although my degrees are in biology and management, I have always incorporated the arts into my studies, my work, and my leisure time.”

Richman, who is also a weaver, teaches glass work at her Santa Cruz studio where she has developed an extensive collection of various colored glass pieces, from sheet glass to hair-thin rods.

“I love the qualities of glass,” she said. “Hard, sharp glass is cut, ground and fired to become smooth and inviting to touch. Solid glass rods become molten and can be stretched, manipulated, shaped, layered, mixed and reshaped to form specialty decorations for fusing or beads for jewelry.”

Richman is currently the president of the Regional Artisan Association, a nonprofit that sponsors Art of Santa Cruz, a permanent exhibit space (next to the Target store inside the Capitola Mall). Art of Santa Cruz typically showcases 70 artists every month and features rotating shows where the public is invited to visit.

“Glass has so many properties that are so interesting,” Richman said. “It takes on so many forms. Being that I live near the ocean I want to portray something about the ocean that helps people make that a part of their homes; I do this because I love the ocean.”

Richman said she also enjoys taking part in the annual Open Studio Art Tour, a long-standing program, typically in October, that lets artists open their studio's doors to the public around the county for one-on-one encounters to help people get a close-up handle of the local art world.

“I do Open Studios, a lot of local festivals, and smaller venues,” Richman said. “You go to sell but you really go to educate people about your work. Most people have no idea about the steps that go into this, how it is stacked, put together, how it’s fired, and that it’s not just a dish. I hope that my works will provide a source of pleasure to those who see and touch them.”

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