‘Coming to Light’ AFA Gallery to showcase local couple’s stained glass works

By Josh McAuliffe TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER 08/26/2004

What’s the first thing that leaps to mind upon hearing the words “stained glass”?

A church, right?

Visit the Artist for Art Gallery sometime in the next month, and Jay and Mary Ann Paulukonis will provide you with a whole new take on the art.

Starting today and running through Sept. 18, the downtown Scranton gallery will host its first all-stained-glass show, “Coming to Light,” featuring more than 20 recent pieces – leaded stained glass panels, bowls and mirrors fabricated in the copper foil technique – created by the Clarks Summit-based husband-and-wife team.

The gallery, 514 Lackawanna Ave., will hold an opening reception Friday from 6 to 8 p.m.

“The Paulukonis’ work is beautiful,” said AFA member artist Liz Revit. “We’re really looking forward to this at the gallery.”

“Much of the work we do is dictated by the clients we’re working with,” Mrs. Paulukonis added. “With this show, we’re free of those kinds of constraints.”

Almost completely self-taught, the couple has been working with stained glass for more than 30 years, employing lead and copper foil techniques to produce architectural windows, autonomous panels, lamps and other sculptural pieces. Most of their work is done with mouthblown or handmade European and domestic glass.

“When liquid glass cools, it captures color moments and remembers creases, securing a dynamic art medium for our manipulation,” the couple wrote in their artist statement. “By taking apart the elements in our imagination and putting them together again in a new way, we release the beauty of the glass and enhance its power to play with light.”

Before moving to the area 12 years ago, the couple lived in South Dakota for two decades. It was there that Mr. Paulukonis first became interested in stained glass while making a window for the couple’s bathroom.

Eventually, Mrs. Paulukonis found herself immersed in the process.

“He insisted that I learn all the stages and not just be his help mate,” she said. “We were probably the only glass artists in South Dakota.”

An Iowa native, Mrs. Paulukonis creates abstract and nature- themed designs largely inspired by a love of the outdoors and an intuitive approach to color and line. Meanwhile, Mr. Paulukonis, originally from Massachusetts, delves into designs that have evolved from being primarily representational to what he calls a “structured randomness.”

While the couple split designing duties straight down the middle for the AFA exhibit, in their day-to-day work Mrs. Paulukonis handles “about 80 percent” of the designs, while Mr. Paulukonis focuses mostly on fabricating her designs to the glass.

It’s a necessary collaboration, since Mr. Paulukonis has proven to be the only person who can successfully translate Mrs. Paulukonis’ designs to the glass’ lead lines.

“It’s difficult, but he can do it. He’ll say, ‘Oh, your designs are murder!’¤” said Mrs. Paulukonis, who also works as the Diocese of Scranton’s family life director. “We have learned to work in synch that way.”

The Paulukonis’ work has been exhibited by galleries in several states and can be found in private collections, churches and commercial establishments throughout the United States and several foreign countries. They were also featured in the second “Goodfellow Catalogue of Wonderful Things.”

If anything, the AFA exhibit should open the couple up to a larger local clientele. According to Mrs. Paulukonis, many area residents don’t think of stained glass as a medium for contemporary art, which probably explains why the majority of the couple’s commissions come from the Philadelphia area.

“I’m hoping people come and look around and I hope they’ll realize that glass is not just for churches,” Mrs. Paulukonis said. “Glass can serve a different function, including adding to the beauty of our lives.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION on the Paulukonis’ work, call 585-2096 or visit their Web site at www.paulukonisstudio.com. All events at AFA Gallery are free and open to the public. Regular gallery hours are Thursday through Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. For more information, call 969-1040.


2 Comments

  1. Beth Markowitz says:

    Congratulations! It looks like all of your hard work and planning came together for a wonderful show! Wish I could have been there but love your website summarization:)

  2. Lori Shah says:

    I’m glad to see glass as an art form making its way into other places besides churches. Perhaps residential housing developers will consider glass as an option for enhancing the beauty of the houses they build. Congratulations on a wonderful show!

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