Phipps Conservatory is in the midst of one of its most mesmerizing exhibits yet. SUPER. NATURAL. Glass Art by Jason Gamrath is currently showing at the historic conservatory. Gamrath has created orchids, Venus flytraps and other plants all out of glass, making a surreal experience where Gamrath said sometimes it’s hard to tell what’s living plant life and what’s glass.
Gamrath decided to showcase his art at Phipps because strangers from “all over the place” said he just had to bring his show to Pittsburgh. “I’m from Seattle, I don’t have ties to Pittsburgh and this is my first show in Pittsburgh,” Gamrath said. “Phipps is so cool, there’s so much history and it’s a really beautiful structure.”
Gamrath praised Phipps for drawing attention to sustainability—what it means, why it matters and why people care about it. “This was a big collaborative effort and it came out so much better than I could have ever dreamed, it’s an incredible show,” he added.
Gamrath’s creations range anywhere from six to a whopping 14 feet tall and are incredibly accurate. His show includes over 40 installments, selected exactly for each room and location and many were custom made just for Phipps.
It was hard for Gamrath to come up with a favorite piece in the extensive exhibit. He spoke highly of the orchids in the south conservatory that are absolutely huge. In one part of the conservatory there are 93 pitcher plants. Another has just one color of his creations, making for a minimal yet gorgeous color scheme.
“At night everything is my favorite,” he said. “We built this show to be two shows, the first half is the daylight version, the seamless incorporation into living plants.”
The next half, beginning September 1st, is the night version. “The lighting on every piece of glass is a precise angle so it stands out so much at night,” Gamrath said. “If you haven’t seen the day show, come out and see it, it’s beyond words at night, just indescribable.”
Gamrath’s interest in glass began when he was eight or nine years old, walking around an electronics store with his father. On one of the hundreds of televisions, a brief clip of a glass blowing show came on and he was instantly intrigued. Later on, he attended the opening of a glass museum at 15 and when he was old enough to take classes on glass blowing at 16, he found the process completely natural to him, and well as they say, the rest is history!
While preparing for his show, Gamrath spent weeks in Pittsburgh. “My favorite part was the personality of the city,” he said. “It is totally different from Seattle, you can go and talk to anybody.” He added that he sometimes takes that for granted, as in Seattle many don’t make eye contact.
“Everybody loves that they live in Pittsburgh, you get that feeling wherever you go,” he said.
During his time in Pittsburgh, Gamrath enjoyed taking in the architecture of the city. “I could walk around all day looking at the buildings,” he said. “It’s an ideal place to be an artist.”
– photos by JC McGreehan