Chautauqua Poster

Borden’s fifth poster is a view
from Lanier Mansion window

The poster adds to show’s
celebration of glass art in America

By Tess Worrell
Contributing Writer

(September 2012) – "It can’t be done.” This brief dismissal was intended to nip Harvey Littleton’s dream in the bud. Instead, it became the inspiration for an entirely new art medium art.

Bill Borden

Photo Brandilyn Worrell

Hanover, Ind., watercolorist
Bill Borden poses with his work.

From the times of ancient Rome, teams of glass blowers, each member with his own specialized role, created glass pieces for market. Glass blowing, a highly technical skill passed to the next generation through lengthy apprenticeship, remained through the centuries within an industrial setting.
In 1962, Harvey Littleton changed all that.
Littleton bemoaned the increasing role of machines in glass-making and the concurrent loss of ancient skills passed through generations of glass blowers. Littleton wondered, “If potters could make pottery with little ovens in their garages, why couldn’t glass blowers do the same?”
That idea became the foundation of the 1962 Toledo Glass Blowing Workshop at the Toledo Museum of Art. According to the Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass, that workshop “took glass blowing out of the factories and into the world of art.”
The 2012 Madison Chautauqua Festival of Art celebrates the 50th anniversary of this birth of studio glass with a special emphasis on blown glass throughout the festival.

2012 Chautauqua Poster

This emphasis was captured by local artist, Bill Borden, for the 2012 Madison Chautauqua poster print. The painting offers a view of the Lanier Mansion lawn through a window of the mansion but features several beautiful pieces of glass resting on the window sill. Borden depicts in vivid color the uniqueness of each glass piece, creating a window into the art of glass-making as the theme for Chautauqua.
Borden’s love for art began as a child. “I started painting in kindergarten and just never grew up,” he jokes. Borden graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1966. He went on to work for Ford Motor Co. but kept up his love of painting throughout his career. He continuously exhibited his work in festivals, such as the Ann Arbor (Mich.) Street Art Fair and galleries.
When Borden’s work for Ford required him to travel to Europe and Australia, his art benefitted. “I would rush out on lunch hours while in Australia and paint post-card size paintings. Because the skies are always changing in Melbourne, I got a lot of practice painting skies and clouds. The colors, the atmosphere – everything is different, so I learned a different way of painting. I loved that time.”
Borden moved to Hanover after retiring from Ford. “I came here because I can walk out my front door and paint. I won’t live long enough to paint all the beauty that is here,” says Borden, 69.
He prefers painting his landscapes on site so he can walk around and get a variety of perspectives on his subject. “If something doesn’t make sense, I can walk around until I understand the landscape and make the elements work.”
His talent has made him a favorite choice as artist for the Madison Chautauqua poster print. This year marks the sixth time he has been chosen – the most of anyone.
When asked how artists are chosen, Chautauqua coordinator Georgie Kelly said the process differs depending on the year. “Some years, we simply invite local artists to submit their ideas, and the committee decides which entry works best. This year, we knew we wanted to focus on the studio glass in recognition of the 50th anniversary, so we wanted an artist who could capture that theme. Choosing Bill was easy. Bill is wonderful. We knew he could do the job.”
An important job it is. Sales of the limited edition 200 posters prints help finance all the background efforts of the Chautauqua. These include finding and processing exhibitors, paying musicians and food vendors, organizing a variety of volunteer teams, paying for and organizing parking for both artists and patrons, making signs to direct patrons; producing maps, and much more. Kelly notes that producing the Chautauqua is a year-round effort, requiring attention to a myriad of details in a huge range of jobs. Proceeds from the poster sales provide between $4,000 and $6,000 each year toward those efforts, she said.
Further, proceeds help fund scholarships so that budding artists from the Madison area can go on to hone their skills with higher education and perhaps one day become exhibitors themselves.
“One scholarship recipient went to college to study piano. She has now returned to Madison and serves on the board for Chautauqua,” Kelly said.
Borden said he hopes people will purchase the poster prints to support these endeavors. “We have people who come each year to buy a poster to add to their collection,” he said.

• Madison Chautauqua poster prints are priced at $45 each and can be ordered online at www.VisitMadison.org purchased at the Lanier-Madison Visitors Center, 601 W. First St. or purchased at the Information Tent located on Broadway Street at Chautauqua while supplies last. Call (812) 265-2956 for more information.


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