In an art world frenzied by novelty, Jon Warren Lentz is quietly forging an original art, a distinctive body of work in an unusual medium. His medium is glass, in which he paints by sculpting, sand-carving forms into the glass on both sides. The carving commences with a sustained blast, no erasures are possible. The surfaces of the glass vary according to the amount of time the surface is blasted. For this reason, each work by Lentz is rich in textures with variable depths that caress the sight and invite touch. Each responds to the changing light of day and year, thus becoming a matrix for light, prismatic color and shadow.
Just as art in any .room, Lentz’ sculptures interact dynamically with the interior, but a window by Lentz also acts upon it. He offers more than just a form to be viewed. These sandcarved images trace patterns of shifting forms upon the room. Lentz’ pieces are like paintings, but paintings in depth. Their textures are actual and sensuous, not merely illusionistic~ Even more striking, the forms sculpted into one side of the glass become visually entangled with those on the other. Together they create a counterpoint that, like musical counterpoint, moves with shifting emphasis. As the sun shifts, an austere and deep edge may be smoothed by a shadow cast from a form on the other side of the glass, which then grows sharp again. Patterns of responsive forms within the work emerge in different ways through different lights. In this way sculptures and windows by Lentz are living works of art. Their beauty and complexity give rise to pleasures rich and subtle, various in the lights of one’s own changing thoughts and feelings.
As Lentz speaks about his work and wider intellectual interests, one comes to see the inspiration behind his artistic explorations. Those works inspired by the Classics, such as the myths of Ovid, or Homeric epic, weave a tapestry which engages both the myth itself, and the place that these myths assume in contemporary art and life. Likewise, the modern masters – Pound, Joyce, Eliot – recur in his conversation. So do Freud and Picasso. Freud’s interest in the multiple meanings of dream-object and Picasso’s cubism, refracting different points of view onto the picture plane – Lentz understands these as related, and distinctly modern concerns. Similarly his favorite writers explore multiple points of view, different yet equally valid, on a situation or cluster of ideas. Lentz presents these principles in a new mode, a new medium, using layered images on opposite sides of the glass, both simultaneously visible. Like these literary counterparts, he creates an art that relishes multivalent forms and multiple meanings. Lentz’ work not only demands different points of view, it creates them.
For a serious artist visual pleasure is inseparable from cognition: the mind’s eye as well as the body’s apprehends the dance of forms. In these radiant pas de deux, Lentz manages to unite two and three dimensional surfaces, illusionistic and actual depth, color and lack of color, thereby elevating glass to a material of serious artistic intent, rivaling the time honored prevalence of paint and canvas, marble and bronze. Lentz’ work defies conventional categories because it incandescently transcends them.
-Kym Orr-McMahon – 1989, Santa Cruz, CA