“Richard Ritter: 40 Years in Glass,” a retrospective of work by the master glassblower, is on exhibit through Saturday, March 13, at the Fine Art Museum on the campus of Western Carolina University.
A reception honoring the artist was held from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 24, with live music by Ritter’s two sons. A slideshow and talk by the artist preceded the reception at noon that day and from 1 to 4 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 25, Ritter gave a glassblowing demonstration at the Green Energy Park in Dillsboro.
Ritter, originally from Detroit, was an illustrator and then metalworker when he committed himself to working with glass. That was in 1968, in the midst of the U.S. studio glass movement. Ritter has studied and worked at the Penland School of Crafts in Mitchell County. In 1980, he and his wife, Jan, settled in Bakersville, near the school.
Ritter is known for his experimental techniques with “murrini” – segments with a patterned cross section, sliced from a glass rod – which he incorporates into his glass pieces. His current “Floral Core Series” features a central floral core between outer wings of glass or metal.
Ritter has enjoyed 20- and 30-year retrospectives, his work has been featured on the cover of American Craft magazine, and he is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the North Carolina Arts Council. His work has been exhibited internationally and is represented in public and private collections including the Corning Museum of Glass, the Museum of Arts and Design, the White House permanent craft collection, the Mint Museum of Craft + Design, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
The WCU retrospective, first exhibited by the Toe River Arts Council, features more than 75 works in glass from 1969 to 2009.
Also on exhibit through March 13 is “Transformation: Drawing into Painting,” work by six New York artists: Simon Carr, John Goodrich, Stanley Lewis, Ying Li, Ruth Miller and Thaddeus Radell. The exhibits mark the beginning of the Fine Art Museum’s fifth-year anniversary.
The Fine Art Museum is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday. It is closed Sunday, Monday and university holidays.