The CCS student balances creating glass pieces, exhibiting and marketing his work. His latest exhibit features pieces representing Holocaust-related themes.
By Suzanne Chessler
Photography by Emma Albert
At the same time Simon Waranch is represented by two works as part of the Michigan Regional Glass Exhibition at the Janice Charach Gallery in West Bloomfield, he is exhibiting work to memorialize the Holocaust in a display at the Museum of Biblical Art in Dallas.
Waranch, a full-scholarship student at the College for Creative Studies, is able to work as a full-time glass artist, supporting himself with the help of marketing techniques learned from his father.
At 20 and in his sophomore year, Waranch is among 30 artists chosen to participate through May 9 at the Charach Gallery, with Michigan Hot Glass as a co-sponsor. His one-person exhibit goes into May at the Dallas museum.
“One piece at the Charach Gallery is called Simon and Matthew 2019,” explains Waranch, who named the differently-sized pieces after a very tall friend and himself, not as tall. “The piece has two simplified figure forms using murrine glass techniques that layer colors to get a pattern.
“The other piece, Color Study Human 2, is a simpler human form with no facial features. I’ve mixed up colors so it’s a study in how the colors react with each other. This time, I’ve used the incalmo technique [joining two glass bubbles of different colors] to make it more sculptural.”
At the Museum of Biblical Art in Dallas, the exhibit is “Glass Matters: The Emergence of Simon Waranch.” The piece that means the most to him, a grandson of a Holocaust survivor, is Holocaust Memorial.
“The Holocaust piece took the most time,” says Waranch, who attended a Jewish day school before entering the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas. “My goal was getting 6 million lines, and it took 500 hours to make it.”
Before turning to figurative forms, Waranch concentrated on nonfunctional vessels to put the emphasis on viewing, not using.
“I started painting when I was 5,” Waranch recalls about his early artistry. “When other kids had lemonade stands, I had a stand with paintings. I got into a curated show when I was 9 at FIG (Fashion Industry Gallery) in Dallas, and people thought the work really was done by my dad, who wanted to be an artist but went into real estate.”
Throughout school years, Waranch experimented with sculpture, photography, graphic design and other disciplines that caught his attention. The fascination with glass began during a trip to Italy, where he saw the work of artists affiliated with the celebrated studios on the island of Murano.
“When I got back to Dallas, I took a couple of classes at Carlyn Ray Designs and was asked to be an apprentice,” he says. “I was coming in five days a week, and they were teaching me. After I touched glass for the first time, I found this complete love, drive and motivation toward it that I never had toward any other art form.
“A milestone was in my senior year in high school. I got my first commission from a law firm after I emailed about 100 people to get work. I did two installations for a new office and, from that, I was able to meet a client who owns hotels. I’ve done all the client’s new hotel acquisitions, including places in Chicago, Baltimore and Indianapolis.”
Just over a year ago, Waranch started showing in a Texas gallery and was told he became its bestseller. After an article appeared in the Texas Jewish Post, his contacts immediately expanded and included the invitation for the exhibition at the Museum of Biblical Art.
“I’m emailing people every day to market my work,” says the glass artist, now preparing for an exhibit at the Longview Museum of Fine Arts in Texas. “It’s a lot easier making the work than selling it.
“I’m very grateful that I grew up in a family where my dad did business. I knew what he was doing, and that helped me a lot. It’s also been very good for me to do everything by myself and not use family connections to get business. Being able to sell my work is the best feeling ever.”
The Michigan Regional Glass Exhibition runs through May 9 at the Janice Charach Gallery in the Jewish Community Center in West Bloomfield.