Judson Studios, Mavens of Modern Glass

Dani Tull, Lantern (Judson 1) and Lantern (Judson 2), 2019

The Forest Lawn Museum is reopening with a survey of L.A.'s Judson Studios, creators of stained and architectural glass. The story is as fascinating as the exhibition is a hot mess. Judson's modern glass is installed among Forest Lawn's collection of medieval and Renaissance stained glass. The show spans high art and architecture to kitsch, with not much sense of a distinction. 

Unknown photographer, William Lees Judson, about 1900
UK-born William Lees Judson moved to Los Angeles for his health, back when that was a thing. A plein-air painter, he talked his way into a job as the first dean of USC's art school. In 1897 Judson launched the stained glass studio that remains a family business to this day.

Judson Studios, Old Testament Priest, about 1930
The early 20th century was a boom time for stained glass in LA. An expanding population of transplanted midwesterners aspired to churches and public buildings like those in the East. Judson Studios delivered windows in the Renaissance Revival, Beaux Arts, and Arts and Crafts modes. 
A retro (2002) Torrey Pine for the Lodge at Torrey Pines, San Diego, and a Japanese print-inspired Carp Window, about 1930 

Frank Lloyd Wright, Window for Ennis House, 1925
It was Judson that fabricated the stained glass windows for Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock and Ennis houses. Later in the century, Judson did the faceted glass for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill's U.S. Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel in Boulder, Colo (1962). The building evokes gothic buttresses, Cold War tensions, and the space age. 
Tim Carey, Kobe, 2017
Fused glass is an innovation allowing painterly and quasi-photographic effects. Judson's Tim Carey, a Lakers fan, used it for a portrait of Kobe Bryant.

Marco Zamor, Amor Fati, 2015
Stained glass has become a trending medium with some street, tattoo, and art-school artists. Contemporary pieces form nearly half the show. At least half are ghastly. The other half aren't. My favorites include Alice Wang's Untitled (elevator pitch: "Process Art vs. The Blob") and Dani Tull's Gaudi-inspired Lanterns

Should you be up for the goth experience of art in a cemetery, make a reservation (recommended but not required). While you're there, don't miss Forest Lawn's two c. 1505 glass panels designed by Albrecht Dürer. They're a reminder that stained glass has been around a long time and isn't going anywhere.
Alice Wang, untitled, 2019


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