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Jaffrey

Quite a pair

Jaffrey: Couple works their artistic magic in a variety of different mediums

  • Hal Danser of Jaffrey, a glass artist, pulls some glass firings done by his students out of the kiln.
  • Two pieces from Hal Danser's Kubric Collection, meant to evoke the universe.
  • Glass artist Hal Danser of Jaffrey uses miscellaneous glass pieces to design a piece of jewelery.
  • Glass artist Hal Danser of Jaffrey uses miscellaneous glass pieces to design a piece of jewelery.
  • Glass artist Hal Danser of Jaffrey uses miscellaneous glass pieces to design a piece of jewelery.
  • Glass artist Hal Danser of Jaffrey uses miscellaneous glass pieces to design a piece of jewelery.
  • Barbara Danser of Jaffrey with a bronze sculpute self portrait displayed in the Danser's Jaffrey home.
  • Barbara Danser of Jaffrey with a bronze sculpute self portrait displayed in the Danser's Jaffrey home.
  • Barbara Danser explains that "Spirit Wind," a bronze sculpture of a Native American, was not based on any specific figure, but drawn from her own imagination and inspired by trips tot he American Southwest.
  • Barbara Danser explains that "Spirit Wind," a bronze sculpture of a Native American, was not based on any specific figure, but drawn from her own imagination and inspired by trips tot he American Southwest.
  • An unnamed Dichrioc necklace by Hal Danser of Jaffrey.
  • Barbara and Hal Danser of Jaffrey, are each individual artists and teach classes in various disciplines at the Sharon Arts Center in Sharon.
  • "Monadnock Orange" an oil painting by Barbara Danser of Jaffrey.
  • A pastel dyptich by Barbara Danser entitled "promenade sous des arbres en feu."
  • "Release" a bronze and glass sculpture by Barbara Danser.
  • "Spirit Wind" a bronze portrait by Barbara Danser of Jaffrey.
  • "Taos mountain" a pastel by Barbara Danser of Jaffrey.
  • An unnamed Dichrioc pendant by Hal Danser of Jaffrey.
  • Unnamed Dichrioc pendants by Hal Danser of Jaffrey.
  • Hal Danser of Jaffrey uses various glass cutters and grinders to shape glass for his jewelery creations.
  • Hal Danser of Jaffrey uses various glass cutters and grinders to shape glass for his jewelery creations.
  • Barbara Danser of Jaffrey paints in her Hancock studio.

In many ways, husband and wife Barbara and Hal Danser are very alike. They are both artists, and draw much of their inspiration for their works from the natural world surrounding them, nestled in a corner of Jaffrey with a view of Mount Monadnock and the surrounding woods spilling out of their back porch, and nearby Gilmore Pond. They both teach at the Sharon Arts Center in Sharon. But in other ways, the two could not be more different, with Hal exploring the challenges within the single craft of glass jewelry, and Barbara setting out on multiple mediums to create everything from abstract landscape to realistic portrait sculptures.

Hal Danser

In Hal Danser’s glass studio, located in the basement of his Jaffrey home, there is a print of one of the most famous photos in history: Earthrise, the picture taken of the sliver of the blue planet as seen from the moon.

The natural world and particularly the universe have been large inspirations in Hal’s jewelry making, he explained in an interview at his home on Friday. He completed an entire body of work inspired by the universe at large, entitled the “Kubrick Series,” a tongue-in-cheek reference to Science Fiction writer Stanley Kubrick, and his most famous novel, “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and the “Hal” from that book.

Danser came into glass making about 20 years ago, encouraged by his wife Barbara, who had been involved in the arts since making it her major in college.

“Barbara said, ‘Get a hobby,’” said Hal with a laugh. So Hal tried glass blowing, which he had an interest in, but it turned out to be a very expensive hobby to maintain. “And then I tried bead making, and made some of the ugliest beads you have ever seen,” he recalled. Eventually, Hal found his niche with a combination of the two interests, in making glass jewelry, particularly necklaces and earrings.

“I loved it,” he said. “I made big, bold, dramatic, contemporary jewelry. I’ve been fortunate that my jewelry has been shown at a number of galleries locally and nationally, and whenever I go into a gallery, the most common thing for me to hear is, ‘Wow, we’ve never seen anything like this before.’ And that’s what I want. I want a different look.”

Many glass artists focus on color as a primary concern, said Danser, but for him, it’s all about the design of the piece first, and then things like the texture and color come in. “If you took a black and white picture, would it still be interesting?” said Danser. “That’s what I think about.”

Unlike his wife, who experiments in multiple disciplines in both two-dimensional and three dimensional art work, Hal said that he finds ways to challenge himself within his single medium.

“I’m always trying new techniques, said Danser. “Painting the glass, or etching it, and different methods of flow control, which is where different pieces of glass flow together. I’m always trying new, creative designs. It’s an experimentation.”

Barbara Danser

Barbara Danser has tried a little bit of everything when it comes to art, working in both sculpture and painting, to writing one-act plays, and her paintings vary from oil to acrylic and watercolor and pastel. Currently, she said, she has been focused on her paintings, particularly of abstract landscapes, as she has been focusing on that subject with her students in recent intensives.

This summer, she said, she will be preparing for an upcoming show at the Mill Brook Gallery in Concord, which has a theme of leaves and nature. For that show, she will be using acrylic paint, and with that and an adhesive, will be incorporating glass into her pieces. “I have a good glass source nearby,” she said, with a laugh, indicating her husband, a glass artist. “Maybe he’ll even let me have it for free.”

Incorporating glass into her acrylics will be something new for Danser, but she is no stranger to new things, she commented. “[My favorite is] the one I’m using at the time,” she said of her many mediums. “I like to change from one subject to another. I like the figure, the abstract, and the non-objective.”

Even her individual works are very quick and individual, she said. “My painting is very energetic. I don’t work on a piece for days or weeks or months, as some artists do. I’m in a certain place when I’m painting and I’m not in the same place if I go back to it.”

Sometimes, she said, even when she starts with a fresh slate and a whole new medium, her past works will find their way into the next one. After finishing a sculpted bust of her husband, for example, she moved onto a ceramic sculpture, but as she began shaping it, a face started to appear. “I said, ‘No, no, I’ve already done that,’ and smashed it with a board,” she recalled. But when she started again, a face once again emerged, and this time, Barbara gave into her artistic impulses and ended up with a sculpture with a face on each side. “You just have to go with the flow,” she said.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ex. 244.

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