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Stain glass artist to come to Austria

A glass painter who has had his work featured in museums and galleries around New York is coming to Austria next year to provide glass painting workshops. Initially a graphic designer, Joseph Cavalieri is now a glass artist who is best known for producing original and sometimes controversial stain glass pieces depicting familiar characters or emotions.

It all started in 2009 with a serious idea to work on a stained glass design illustrating the fall of the US economy. New York artist Joseph Cavalieri planned on having a tattered Uncle Sam dead on the cross, but the Uncle Sam image was simply too over-exposed. He searched for other "international icons" that would represent the U.S., but Ronald McDonald, Betty Boop, even Barrack Obama, brought on their own particular conceptual problems. He finally chose the one contemporary symbol that was known around the world and somehow felt at peace on the cross: the lovable cartoon bad boy Bart Simpson. In early sketches of "Il Momento Della Morte" (The Moment of Death) Bart was hung on the cross alone, with a pile of broken TV sets at his feet. As the design developed, Joseph added Lisa Simpson to balance the composition. In the final piece both Bart and Lisa share nails in their hands and feet.

"Il Momento Della Morte" was finished and laid out on Cavalieri’s light box, waiting to be mounted. Joseph’s frame maker Robert Shapiro stopped by for a delivery, and was the very first outsider to see the work. Upon viewing it, Robert immediately shouted, "You are going straight to Hell!" Joseph loved this emotional reaction, and quickly decided to make a second panel, "Funerale Di Un’ Amica" (Funeral for a Friend), in what he soon dubbed his "Missing Episode" series.

"There is no death in the cartoon world," Cavalieri explains. "Violence has no repercussions, and nobody ever gets old. I call these the "Missing Episodes" because if these were real none of the characters would return in the following episode. I feel like I’m bringing the drama and mortality that people associate with Renaissance-era stained glass images to our contemporary pop culture."

Cavalieri twists the familiar Simpsons characters in part by placing them in scenarios based on the fables of 17th Century French poet Jean de La Fontaine. "The Maid" is a story about a woman’s vanity, and how she can never find a man to match her beauty. When her mirror shows her first wrinkle she runs out and marries the town cripple. In Cavalieri’s vision, the Maiden is Marge Simpson and the cripple is her every-schlub husband Homer.

"The Countryman and the Serpent" details how a country boy finds a frozen snake and brings it home to defrost in front of the fire. The snake comes to life and coils and attacks the boy: a fine way to treat someone that just saved your life! He grabs an axe and chops the snake into 3 pieces. Here, country boy (played by Bart) wields two axes, and the serpent (played by Ned Flanders) is chopped into three, while layers of Astro-Maggies float quietly towards heaven.

The works consist of up to 6 layers of glass, sometimes incorporating over 90 individual pieces.  His techniques include hand painting and air-brushing enamel paints onto glass. Once painted, the glass is kiln fired, foiled, layered, soldered, and presented in a wall hung light box, which when lit, has an eerie similarity to a TV set’s glow.

Art lovers always ask about getting permission for using the Simpsons characters. Cavalieri took his chances but was rewarded when two of the series writers tracked him down and bought his work. One panel hangs in the LA offices where the Simpsons series is written.

The Ultimate

During an interview for WNYC radio, in New York, the host asked Joseph what his "dream is as an artist?" His reply was to be shown in a church. In early 2014 his dream became a reality with "Deliver Us From Our Addictions", an installation in the Church of St. Paul the Apostle, in Manhattan. The collection of 10 works formed a meditative and somewhat comical series of 21st century dependencies in stained glass. The series illustrates a grouping of mental and physical addictions to which we moderns are prone, ranging from consumerism, mind-altering drugs, smoking, over-eating, plastic surgery, to fashion victims and outright evil!

These works are the smallest stained glass windows Cavalieri has made to date. One of the smallest is based on coffee addiction. This small stained glass window consists of 17 pieces of glass and, like a typical cup o’ Joe, fits into the palm of  your hand. Sex and love addiction uses terms flowing from a pair of floating eyeglasses, illustrating an abundance of traditional, erotic and kinky words. These elements are physically supporting the glasses while simultaneous blocking the vision. This work reflects the abundance of love and sexual relationship choices we have in our modern times.

Cavalieri’S two favorites in the addiction series are the ""Muscle Addition" and "Evil". The stud featured is Bill Pearl, an American former bodybuilder from the 1950s and ‘60s. He won many titles and awards, including winning the Mr. Universe contest five times, and was named "World’s Best-Built Man of the Century." This work places Mr. Pearl posing on a platform made of words affiliated with working out at the gym.

"Evil". He touches on politics while featuring a portrait of the actress Agnes Moorehead. She played the roll of a comically evil witch Endora, in the American television series Bewitched.

Sexiest Man

Joseph Cavalieri comes from a graphic design background that ultimately landed him in a corporate jobs working at Good Housekeeping, GQ and People Magazine. With a degree from the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, Cavalieri’s career started in text book publishing and from there he moved on to advertising and magazine work. During his stint at People Magazine, the art department joined in voting on the "Sexiest Man" choices that year. Photos were hung in the conference room, while hours of intense discussions among the staff went on and on about why Mel Gibson outweighed George Clooney. Although it was an entertaining event, Cavalieri felt there should be more to life and art other than the physical allure of Hollywood actors. It was at this point that the graphic designer started his metamorphosis into a fine glass artist.

In 1997 while working full-time art directing, Joseph started taking classes at UrbanGlass in Brooklyn. Here he learned many processes of painting on glass, sandblasting, flame working, and glass fusing. Slowly, he started to exhibit and sell his work. As his stained glass business grew he made plans to transition from graphic design to working full-time in glass. In 2008, he was accepted to a two month residency at Northlands Glass in Scotland- the first critical step in defining himself as a fine artist, and in early 2009, he took it a step further and opened CAVAglass, his glass studio in lower Manhattan.

Now in 2014 his work has been acquired for the permanent collection of the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, and in the permanent collection of the Leslie-Lohman Museum, in Manhattan. Joseph’s MTA Arts for Transit public art commission can be viewed at the Philipse Manor Train Station in Westchester, New York. He shares his knowledge of painting on glass in week long workshops he teaches internationally. Cavalieri will be teaching a painting on glass workshop in 2015 here in Austria at Creative Glass in Sattledt.

To view more of Cavalieri’s work, upcoming exhibits and classes visit www.CAVAglass.com.

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