Curt Sullan began creating glass and steel sculptures as a form of stress-relief from his job as a construction lawyer. He bought kilns and was sketching ideas for pieces years before he started working with glass.
“I’ve been drawing concepts since 2000 and am now on my 22nd book,” explains Sullan, who has lived in Denver since 1985. “Each book has between 500 and 700 ideas in them. My initial ideas weren’t very practical. As time went by and I had developed more experience working with glass, I saw how I had to curb my ideas to fit what would actually work with glass. I’ve had lots of failures over the years.”
Sullan shows more than a dozen of his most recent glass and steel sculptures, in which steel is behind and in front of the glass, in a solo exhibit at Globe Fine Art that opens on May 11. His show coincides with the gallery’s openings of shows by painters Stephanie Shank and Richard Potter.
Many of Sullan’s works are influenced by architectural elements he was exposed to by his father, who was an architect in Chicago while he was growing up. “I spent weekends at his office,” he recalls. “I knew my way around a model room and architectural drawings.”
After Sullan decides what he’s going to create, the hard part begins. Casting large pieces of glass is a complicated process that requires a great deal of patience and experimentation. The only way to achieve the desired result, he says, is through years of trial and error.
“Thick glass is especially challenging,” says Sullan, who uses repurposed glass in his work. “For every inch of thickness, there are generally several weeks of cooling required. Most of my pieces have to cool for three or more months. When I open the kiln after three or four months, I may find a piece intact or blown up. I won’t know until I open the door and look inside.”