Andrew Westreich does not like to talk about his artwork. Ask him about someone else’s, and he has a lot to say.
The president of the Southeastern Minnesota Visual Artist gallery has kind words for all of the artists volunteering in the gallery. When he isn’t talking about others, he’s creating his own, very breakable, artwork.
Since 1999, Westreich has been creating kilnworked glass bowls, plates, jewelry and other pieces of art. His love of the arts goes back a lot further. As a teenager, Westreich would play hooky from school to go into New York City to see a Matisse exhibit. Galleries, art centers, art fairs and museums has been his escape ever since.
I don’t remember when I started, I just did. It was an art form which appealed to me, so I took a shot at it.
What is your artistic process?
Usually, it’s based on a series of colors or designs I have in my mind. Sometimes I draw things out but not very often. It’s very much a hands-on process where you create by doing. My studio has lots of pieces, too many to count. It’s fun to play with the pieces. Sometimes I will assemble an entire piece, then take it apart and start over again.
In what way does fused or kilnworked glass differ from blown glass?
With fused glass, you start with it cold, and you end with it cold. I don’t work with hot glass. Hot glass is a lot less forgiving. You can’t stop and start over and try something new with hot glass. The process that I use is fused glass, and you can do that. That’s a big difference between blown glass and fused glass.
You donate a lot of your time to the SEMVA gallery. What appeals to you about the gallery?
(Ten years ago) SEMVA was the only place in town that allowed an artist to basically have their own small gallery. So you get to pick what goes in your spot. You get to talk about your work with people. You get to connect with people about your work, and that isn’t something you can do any place in town. I’m still not sure if there is any place in town in which you can do that.
You’ve traveled all over the country. How does the southeastern Minnesota art scene compare with others?
I’ve been to a lot of co-ops all over the country … and this place, in terms of the range of work that we have here, is very unusual. It’s a unique place in that regard. We have all levels of talent here. Sometimes people come in here, and they’re at the beginning of their career, and it’s sort of fun to watch them mature as they work here and get criticism and hear what people say about their work.