OK, is it my imagination or is a bunch of the stuff in New Glass Review not, well, new?

New Glass Review is–for glassists–the eagerly awaited late spring catalog of trends and innovations in glass art. It’s put out by the Corning Museum of Glass (my favorite museum, bar none, and one of the best resources for technical, artistic and historical information on glass around)

Every fall hundreds of glass artists (for the 2006 edition, 2,445 entries from 895 artists) submit photos of their best work along with a $15 entry fee. A jury reviews the submissions, picks the 100 pieces they most consider to be “new glass” for the year, and they build this really nice publication around it. (And no, I’ve never submitted anything to the jury–my work’s not where it needs to be for that yet)

In each edition I see marvelous things, get to know some great artists I’d not considered before…and every year the jury pretty much follows my rule of thirds: A third of the work I love, a third doesn’t move me one way or another, and a third isn’t to my taste. Pretty much the standard for me viewing anybody else’s art collection.

It was no different this year, and there are some really glorious works in there. In particular, Jiri Harcuba’s “George Orwell” is one of those pieces I could get lost in for hours. Ted Sawyer has a striking powder abstract, Claudia Whitten has a really fun glass-as-ceramic vessel, I’m really struck by Tanaka’s take on the famous Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico City and Taguchi’s mirror installation is definitely on my list.

Lots of good stuff. But overall, well, the NGR collections also seem to follow a second rule of thirds: Only about a third of the work actually appeared to be what I call “new.” A second third seemed to be slight variations on existing glass fashion by established artists, and the last third seemed to be copies of what better-known artists were already doing.

Maybe the photos camouflage the “newness” of these works, so I’m just missing the boat. But these works seem to be strongly reminiscent of Moje and Vallien and Kuhn and Hafner and Brock and Lipofsky and Nishi and Morris and Borella and Rea and Libensky/Brychtova and Levinson and Chiles, etc., etc., etc.

So I dunno. I’d think that the “New” in the title meant “new artists,” except that this year features folks like Dan Dailey, who certainly isn’t an emerging artist. So…have we used up all the new ideas for creating works in glass? Did nobody submit anything really new and this was the best of a not-really-new lot?

Somehow I can’t believe that. So maybe should this publication be retitled “Best Glass of 2006?” Just a thought…