Stephen Glassman first came to international attention while creating large-scale bamboo installations in urban sites devastated in the wake of the Rodney King Riots, Malibu Fires and Northridge Quake. These works became local symbols of resiliency as well as a springboard for the permanent, monumental public works he creates today.
Deaf and unable to speak as a child, Glassman seized art as a means of communication and self-expression. He went on to receive his BFA from SUNY Purchase and spent years traveling the country as a circus and street artist. In 1979 he settled in Venice, CA where the neighborhood alleys were dotted with the studios of Dennis Hopper, Ed Rusha, and Black Flag. Glassman was drawn to Venice’s sun baked landscape of dilapidated piers, cracked bleached concrete, fallen fences, and vast horizons – a remote outpost on the edge of Los Angeles and a hidden hub of creativity that would become known as Dogtown – the epicenter of modern skateboard culture. It was here that Glassman’s signature work took root – pulled directly from the urban landscape. Often formidable in scale, Glassman’s work is noted for how it “dazzles in slo-motion (and) creates a bracing, humanist kind of spectacle … that actually draws the viewer into the frame instead of alienating” (David Cotner, LA Weekly).
Significant projects by Glassman include an eight story sculpture for architect Bjarke Ingels’ (BIG) torqued pyramidal skyscraper (currently under construction on Manhattan’s West 57th street); a 4,000 square foot sculpture plaza for the LNR Warner Center in Los Angeles; Arkansas’ Southeast Shear (an NEA/ White House Millennium commission), the Sylvia Campuan Bridge in Indonesia; “Thornton Creek” in Seattle; Calgary’s “Frozen River”; Port of Los Angeles master plan and more. These projects have involved the collaboration of designers and builders including BIG, Arup, The Durst Organization, Eric Owen Moss, Steinberg Architects, Sasaki, Miller Hull, and more.
Much of Stephen’s practice has evolved from a creative and collaborative foundation in the theatre. He has worked with artists, directors, and venues including Moscow Circus, Phillipe Petit, Perry Farrell, Jonathan Borofsky, Nels Cline, Robert Wilson, Paris Opera, Los Angeles Music Center, Getty Museum, Olympic Arts Festival, Los Angeles Festival, Bread and Puppet Theatre, and more. Glassman’s public work has been included in the syllabi of classes at colleges and universities including Vassar, Syracuse, and Bard, and featured in the Lincoln Center Institute’s program on “Aesthetic Education.” Glassman’s design for “Urban Air” — a sculpture that transforms billboards into intelligently networked, floating bamboo gardens – has been the subject of over 21,000 blogs and articles, downloaded over 150,000 times on every continent, and has received over 600,000 hits on Google.
Glassman is the recipient of numerous grants and awards including the National Endowment for the Arts, Nathan Cummings Foundation, London International Creativity Award, LA Cultural Endowment, and a 2000 Chrysler Design Award nomination. His private studio work has been collected and exhibited nationally and internationally. Published reviews have appeared in Art in America, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Village Voice, Artweek, Landscape Architecture, Huffington Post, International Herald Tribune, Wired, NPR, National Geographic, and more.
Stephen Glassman still lives and works in Los Angeles with his wife – critically acclaimed director/choreographer Sarah Elgart – and their two daughters.
SELECTED PUBLIC WORK AND STRUCTURAL COLLABORATIONS
Flows Two Ways | 2016
Currently SGS is creating the eight-story sculpture for Bjarke Ingels Group’s (BIG’s) inaugural North American skyscraper - now under construction on West 57th Street overlooking the Hudson River in Manhattan. Commissioned by The Durst Organization - the world’s leading builder of green skyscrapers - the sculpture is located on a brand-new intimate private street in a mixed-use development spanning an entire block and several buildings, including the BIG torqued pyramid.
Warner Center Sculpture Plaza
A 4,000 sq ft sculpture plaza Inspired by the White Tailed Kite - a native bird that still inhabits the area and the ecological riparian history, “White Tail Plaza” generates landmark identity, shade, seating and a value added amenity for the Los Angeles Warner Center Campus.
Santa Monica College Urban Corridor & Campus Gateway Master Plan
Part of the master plan team with steinberg architects. created landmark identity for the college, a conceptual context for the six block urban corridor it dominates. final plan created a singular skyline scaled building, plaza and green space that serves as a sculptural metaphor for this influential coastal city. awards - AIA Los Angeles Chapter, Next La Design Awards 2010, The Chicago Athenaeum, The European Centre for Architecture Art Design, American Architecture Awards 2010.
Port of Los Angeles: Wilmington Waterfront Master Plan Los Angeles, California | 2006
Part of the master plan team with sasaki associates. scope of work included developing conceptual content and art opportunities for 95 acre sustainable buffer zone along industrial waterfront. Winner of AIASF Award for Excellence in Urban Design, and Northern California Chapter of American Society of Architects Honor Award.
Soto Street Bridge Los Angeles, California | 2003
Commissioned by the City of Los Angeles in collaboration with HDR Engineering, and Troller Mayer Landscape Architects to remove an 800’ highway bridge overpass to transform a derelict urban site to a one acre community green space. Community representative – Antonio Villaraigosa
Southeast Shear : Barraque Bridge Plaza Pine Bluff, Arkansas | 2000
Commissioned by the White House Millenium Council (Hillary Clinton, Honorary Chair) and the National Endowment for the Arts. Reclaimed a derelict historic urban delta waterfront to create permanent freeform structural central plaza, including the renovation of an 1877 cast iron industrial facade, water features, landscaping and infrastructure. Overall dimensions - 80’ high, 90’ wide, 150’ long. structural engineer - T.J. Rowell; general contractor - Benny Hatcher/Select Constructors, inc.
Sylvia Campuan Bridge Ubud | Bali 1995
A permanent 60’ bamboo and concrete bridge, spanning 30’ across a 25’ river gorge. Over 4,000 people crossed in its inaugural weekend; structural engineer - Oscar Hidalgo
Robert Wilson, Paris Opera 1997 “Protheus” National Opera of Paris
Commissioned to create a lighter than air flying boulder as museum and performance piece.
Philippe Petite, 1996 - 7 “Crescendo” New York City
Invited by Academy Award winner “Man On Wire” Philippe Petite, legendary for his 1970’s guerilla crossing of the world trade center, to create a giant tensile bridge installation supporting his new year’s eve crossing of the worlds largest gothic cathedral. (with – Brooklyn Philharmonic, Paul Winter, Jessye Norman, Odetta)
La Boca Performance Space | MADRES 1990 –1995 LA, CA Production Designer, Technical Director
Lead the renovation and transformation of historic homeless mission chapel space to dance theatre and performance space. Created and produced site specific and touring production designs for original performance works with MADRES, a movement performance ensemble of transitional homeless women, created and directed by choreographer Sarah Elgart. Over 5 years, MADRES performed at National and international festivals and venues including Los Angeles, NYC, Washington DC, and Antwerp, Belgium
Jonathan Borofsky, (selected projects 1983-1992)
Project director - body of work generating museum quality conceptual art with robotic/fx technologies
Flying 5 - 6’ x 6’ radio controlled flying sculpture, mylar, wood, stainless steel
Ballerina Clown – 15’ animatronic robotic sculpture
Fish With Ruby Eye - 45’ x 35’ x 8’, 2 ton suspended and motorized fiber optics; Molecule Man – 35’ suspended, pneumatic, computer driven marionette
Installations: Gran Palais, Paris; Shiga & Tokyo Museums, Japan; Whitney Museum, NYC; Corcoran Museum, Wash D.C.; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; MOCA, L.A.; Phila. Museum, UC Berkeley Museum, Toronto Waterworks, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa