Libby Pace, window installation, Healing Arts, August-October 2003

Libby's latest show--Priceless Works Gallery, in Seattle

opening March 5, 2004, 6-9 PM

When I asked Libby Pace to do a window installation for the month of September, I was in a bit of a bind, for reasons having to do with flaky curators and egotistical artists (who shall for now and forever more remain nameless). I had seen a show of hers in June at Urban Glass, which was stunning, and after my recent bruising curatorial experiences, I thought that there was no way in hell such an accomplished artist would agree to do a show at my brand-new, po-dunk little gallery.

But I was a friend of a friend of hers, and when I closed my eyes and thought “September,†I saw the window full of glass. So I sent her an email in the middle of August, to the effect of “please please please, I’ll do anything, free massages, mimosas at the opening, do whatever you want, please say yes.†She replied, “I’d love to.â€

Then she said she wanted to cover the window with contact paper. I worried that the lack of light would kill my plants, but let her go ahead. The preliminary comments, overheard on the street were, “Too bad, looks like they’re closed already,†and “Maybe they went full-service.†I chewed my nails; Libby went calmly ahead.
Now, mind you, I had given her about two weeks’ notice to do this piece; she already had her hands full with commissioned glass work for other artists, regular church and Bible study group, and recently got hired for the o’dark-thirty receiving shift at the Park Slope Food Co-op. And nobody was paying her for this piece.

So she started in, stencilling an incredibly elaborate eighteenth-century French wallpaper pattern on the window; she then cut every detail of the outline with an exacto knife; she slowly peeled away the pattern in an almost symphonic complexity of form, frost and negative space; and she fabricated glass spheres, suspended them with Austrian crystals that she trolled fifteen thrift stores to find, and filled the spheres with water.

This last process was tricky and dangerous; there was more than one midnight mishap involving glass shards, water, bare feet, and a shop-vac. This is the price we pay for beauty.