Heads up Bainbridge Islanders, famed Italian glass artist Lino Tagliapietra’s work is on display and available for purchase at a local small art studio run by his grandson, Jacopo Vecchiato.
The showroom is an extension of the Seattle gallery Lino Tagliapietra Inc, of which Vecchiato has been president for nine years. Currently, space is only open by appointment as Vecchiato is balancing his time between Seattle and Bainbridge. There is another gallery in Tagliapietra’s hometown of Murano, Italy.
The local showroom is set up in Vecchiato’s private studio, which is part of his and his wife’s residence at the Roost Development in Lynwood Center located at 4566 Flying Goat Ave., unit C-140. He also mentioned his wife works from the studio for her job. To reserve a tour, visit linotagliapietra.com/showrooms/tour.
Two other artists also live there and have set up similar studios — Theresa Kilgore, who makes jewelry, and Patricia Orellana, a Columbian-American painter.
Vecchiato said he and the other artists are developing ideas for how they could incorporate each of their works into a larger display or gallery.
“There are ideas We just have very different art,” he said. “We need to find a way to balance the three artistic (forms). We’ll see what the community wants.”
Eventually, Vecchiato wants to move into a bigger studio on Bainbridge. “I’m starting to decide what the future for Bainbridge is going to be,” Vecchiato said. “If I can find a bigger gallery, I will open up full time. The idea in my head right now is to find the perfect location in Bainbridge to properly showcase Lino’s work. It requires the proper space, height and lighting.”
Vecchiato and his wife used to live in Seattle but decided to find a new area when COVID-19 hit. The two were supposed to get married last year in Italy but had to cancel it three different times due to the pandemic. In impromptu fashion, his doctor had a house on Bainbridge, and he married them there. Vecchiato’s family could not be there due to the pandemic.
“The day that we got married, we walked around the island, and we said, ‘Bainbridge is not that bad. We wouldn’t mind living here,’” he said. “What struck me immediately was how friendly and direct people are, it’s like you knew them already.
“What happens on this island is important to everybody,” Vecchiato continued. “I could see the difference in art for Bainbridge (residents). Every person that’s come in here has asked so many questions and was so interested about it. I love being here. I think Bainbridge gave me a bit more serenity for myself, compared to the other side (Seattle).”
Vecchiato grew up in Murano, just like his grandfather. He said Murano is a small island in Venice of about 4,000 people and compared it to a much smaller Bainbridge Island. He also said glass art was hard to miss growing up as it was one of the more popular art forms.
“Most of the people work in glass,” Vecchiato said. “We all grow up as kids knowing what glass is.”
Although he has a legend of a grandfather, Vecchiato said he didn’t follow in his footsteps to try and become a glass artist. For college, he moved to the states to attend San Diego State University before moving to England for postgraduate studies in finance. Later, his family reached out to him about transitioning Lino’s Seattle studio into a public gallery. A renovation took place in 2017.
“My career was very different,” Vecchiato said. “My career was more corporate based. At the time, my family needed help. Once you get into it, it gets exciting.”
As the president of three locations now, his duties consist of receiving and shipping his grandfather’s work, preparing material for glass blowing sessions, marketing and social media. Vecchiato’s affinity for glass art comes from a few factors.
“I love the glow and transparency and lighting,” he said. “I love how you can play with the glass, and it will look different in every place you position it.”
Tagliapietra was born in 1934 in Murano and became an apprentice glassblower at age 11. At 21, he was appointed the title of “Maestro,” an honor reserved only for the best glassblowers. In 1979, Tagliapietra visited Seattle and introduced students at the Pilchuck Glass School to the tradition of Venetian glassblowing. The cross-cultural collaboration helped shape the identity of American glassblowing and offered him an opportunity to expand his horizons internationally.
Now 86, he splits his time between Murano and Seattle.
“The stamina is still there, the passion is definitely still there,” Vecchiato said. “It’s a lifetime of glass. Sometimes it’s hard to work with family but it’s also very rewarding that I’m able to stay in touch this much with my grandfather. It’s such an honor. He did something very big for the world I think.”
The two enjoy talking about life in general while also discussing new approaches to push the boundaries of glass art.
“I speak to him every day via Facetime because now he’s still in Italy,” Vecchiato said. “We discuss ideas of new work, new design or what to produce. The main issue is glass has limits. Lino’s trying to push those limits chemically or structurally to the next level.”
Vecchiato said he hasn’t needed any advice from his grandfather as he leads by example every day.
“Looking at him is just getting advice. Understanding that this man has been doing this since he was 11-years-old and still wakes up at 6 a.m. It makes you understand that if you have passion for what you do, you can do it for as long as you want. Passion, family and friendship are what I get from him.”