|Reflections by the Editor|
D. Thomas O'Connor
Twelve years ago, Mariusz Rynkiewicz and his wife, Dorota, immigrated to the United States and began a new life. As a skilled glass blower, Mariusz hoped to find work in the Seattle area. He spoke very little English, but the shaping of hot glass is a universal language of its own; and in that medium Mariusz is a master communicator. In time, he has also learned to express himself in the language of his adopted country.
On family values: "How do you know how life will go? For me, I am thinking all of the time about the family, about man/woman, she/he. I am a family man, I love my woman, and she me, and I love my children. From there, everything springs."
On color and shape: "Color drives my design. I am always looking at the color, holding it up to the light, illuminating it...watching always the color. What is the shape that can hold this color red? Thinking of this, I draw, drawing from what I see in my eyes."
On the old and the new: "Because I have read old and new books, I know the forms. I have studied the techniques. I think, what tradition can I add a contemporary touch to? And then I blow glass. I am a glass blower."
On the creative process: "The form begins in my soul, with the ghost of the piece in my mind. Beauty is what is in your mind."
Mariusz was born in Bialystok, Poland on the first day of spring in 1962. As a youth, he traveled to St. Petersburg, Russia, where he saw an exhibit of the czarist collection of Venetian glass. The 15-year-old was immediately spellbound. From that moment, he knew what he wanted to do with his life.
One year later, in 1978, Mariusz enrolled in the Professional Glass Blowing School of the Bialostockie Huty Szkla (glass factory) in his hometown. After completing three years of training, he remained at the factory. At this time Mariusz also continued his education at the Technical School of Glass in Wolomin near Warsaw, and he later got a degree in mechanics in Bialystok. Although he advanced from assistant to gaffer at the Bialostockie factory, much of the work was repetitious. Mariusz longed for new challenges in glass making.
In 1986, he took further training at Krosnienskie Huty Szkla in Krosno, Poland. Later that year, he left Poland and eventually made his way to Spain. There, despite his solid credentials, Mariusz couldn't find work as a glass blower. In 1988, he obtained a visa to come to the United States.
It wasn't difficult for Mariusz and Dorota to choose Seattle as their destination in America, since the Pacific Northwest has long been a center for glass art. Soon after arriving, Mariusz had his first job at Freemont Antique Glass. Within months, he accepted the position of gaffer at Ornamental Blown Glass in Lynnwood, Washington. He remained at Ornamental from 1989 to 1995.
During this period, Mariusz looked for ways to further develop his glass-blowing artistry. In 1992, he studied with Dante Marioni at the Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Washington; and a year later, with Lino Tagliapietra at Pratt Fine Art Center in Seattle. Also in 1993, Mariusz became an instructor of glass blowing at the Pratt Fine Art Center.
In 1995, Mariusz fulfilled his lifelong dream by becoming designer, gaffer, and owner of Studio Rynkiewicz in Everett, Washington. Over the past five years he has enjoyed the freedom of being his own boss, while creating many new exciting designs.
One item found in Studio Rynkiewicz that I have not seen in other hot-glass shops is a good-sized chalk board. Mariusz often draws designs on this chalk board and refers back to them in the course of his work.
Mariusz delights in using traditional vessel forms and giving them a unique contemporary look. Many of his works, such as the limited edition Panieneczka ("Damsel") series, are designed as groups of two or more objects. One recurring design themes is the male/female relationship, which is illustrated by a pair of goblets entitled "The Couple."
To date, Mariusz's art glass has been sold in more that 30 galleries throughout the United Statesfrom Seattle to Fort Lauderdale and from California to New York. Prices for his work will undoubtedly rise as more collectors discover this talented man, but his art remains affordable in comparison to other artists of his ability.
In 1997, his "Michal" set #2, consisting of three vases and a bowl, sold for $750; while the "Kuba" set #4, consisting of four vases, two candlesticks, and a bowl, was priced at $1,080. (Incidentally, these sets were named after his two sons.) In 1998 Mariusz won the NICHE Award in the blown glass category for his "Punch Bowl."
Last November Studio Rynkiewicz held a three-day sale and glass-blowing demonstration. This annual event allows the public to watch Mariusz and other glass blowers practice their craft, while taking advantage of buying glass at a special price.
Mariusz has developed a web site at www.mariuszart.com where you can view his more recent work, such as the 1998 Baltimore Collection; and the Bullet Collection, Spout Collection, and other limited-edition offerings from 1999. You can also reach Mariusz by phone or fax at (425) 743-4168 or by writing to Studio Rynkiewicz, 12401 Alexander Rd., Everett, WA 98204.