Tacoma can be tough turf for artists. It is difficult for an individual artist to scrape out a living here, yet glass artist Diane Hansen is doing just that. As co-owner of “Bella Balls” and as a successful participant in Tacoma's Public Art in Depth (PA:ID) program, Hansen appears to have established strong roots and is flourishing like the proverbial tree beside a stream.
A mini retrospective of Hansen's glasswork is currently on view at Gallery 301 (located 301 Puyallup Ave). The show features over a dozen of Hansen's elegant, classical vases, raised platters and other vessels. Examples from Hansen's trademark “Venus Series,” which feature silkscreened imagery derived from Sandro Botticelli's renaissance era "Birth of Venus," are there to behold. “Rococo Venus,” the show’s centerpiece, is a gigantic, cream-colored bulb-shape on a fluted stem. The silkscreened face of Botticelli’s Venus gazes out from a band that runs around the center of the vessel. Amber colored scallop shells and curlicues decorate the monumental piece.
Influenced by a keen admiration of the material culture of Paris and Versailles, Hansen’s vessels are voluminous and regal. Thick, glass leaves and golden-flecked glass pears often cling in clusters to the bold, beautiful forms that Hansen creates.
In the early 1990s Hansen studied glass blowing at Seattle's Pratt Fine Arts Center under the likes of Lino Tagliapietra (the Italian master of glass), David Levi and Richard Royal. She is also affiliated with the Pilchuck glass school in Stanwood and has twice been a guest artist at the Museum of Glass. Her business “Bella Balls,” which is co-owned with Lesli Jacobs-McHugh, creates Japanese-style glass floats that are accented with sterling silver adornments. As a result of her involvement with the PA:ID program Hansen has been selected by Sound Transit to do an artistic makeover of the A Street Underpass that will serve as a pedestrian link between downtown and the Dome District.
The retrospective at Gallery 301 is a concise little tour of the work of this important local artist. The show runs through Sept. 9. The gallery is open by appointment only. Hansen would be glad to come by and unlock the doors for interested art viewers. She is available at (253) 222-0716.