Salem Art Works expands into a virtual holiday shop

Over the ridge, at Salem Art Works in Salem, N.Y., Glass Studio Director Michael Scupholm is working singlehandedly at tasks that would usually have a partner — to help in the fine control of speed and temperature and air flow.

He breathes into tube with a rubber fitting, through the long metal rod, while he turns it to keep an even curve in the molten, glowing orb on the far end.

He is shaping blown-glass ornaments as broad as a baseball. He can add color in powdered glass that melts and marbles, he said, and texture the surface with optic molds. They swirl and gleam in facets. And they re now online.

SAW has opened a new webshop for their artists in ceramics, cast iron and more. Covid is reshaping their studios. Workshops and residencies have paused since the pandemic hit, and SAW artists are working alone in the studios.

In the foundry, the larger tasks, the iron pours that take a team of six are quietly on hold. Sculpture Park Manger Zac Ward has often seen a dozen metalworkers show up to help  in the past— the local community support each other, he said. But finding a team of six now for a couple of days takes care.

The forge is open for blacksmith work though, and so are the walking paths. Ward designed trails through SAW’s 119 acres, as old logging roads spiral up the hill. He is installing new work in the sculpture park, said Executive Director Anthony Cafritz, including Ward’s own work, organic abstract shapes in iron and steel. They can blend in and emerge subtly as walkers and snowshoers pass by. 

“I don’t want to disturb the landscape as much as fit into it,” Ward said. 

Some elements show clearly, near the road or the edge of the woods, he said, and some will feel hidden in the warmer months and reveal themselves after the leaves fall.

“The park is a living, breathing place,” he said.

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