Sydney Cash will be showing his renowned glass-and-mirror works alongside a new body of “remastered portraits” at the Falcon in Marlboro, his longtime creative home, through April. There will be an artist’s reception there on Saturday, March 8, at 4:30 to 6 p.m.
“I grew up making stuff,” Cash recalls of his childhood in Detroit. “My first job, when I was four, was straightening nails for my uncle, who made trunks and suitcases. I had a workshop when I was 5 years old. In Detroit, everybody was a tinkerer. I thought I was going to be an engineer. It wasn’t until I had moved to New York and started a business called Gargoyles, where I made reproductions of antique wood carvings, that I started playing around with mirrors.”
Cash’s works, involving glass, mirrors and projected shadows, have been collected by the likes of the Museum of Modern Art, the Corning Museum of Glass and Le Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. He has had more than 40 one-person exhibitions worldwide and created works on commission for the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority and MoMA, as well as the Falcon.
“I got a loft in TriBeCa to bend glass, and one day said, ‘This is art!’” Cash recalled. “Ivan Karp, one of the first gallerists in the SoHo scene, started showing my work… In those pre-computerized times I was known for wearing a kitchen timer on my coat to precisely keep track of my glass kilns.”
In 1983, Cash was doing well enough as an artist to move upstate to Marlboro and start a second family. He says that what has followed has been a drive to pay more attention to inventiveness than the strictures of career; which hasn’t always been what his many galleries have wanted from him. At times he has received grants and awards, and has had a profitable business making glass jewelry.
Cash’s new portrait work riffs on the classics of art history; he has described the techniques as being like Chinese brush painting without being Chinese – or using a brush. He says that it’s a perfect antidote for the methodical progression of his larger projects, satisfying for being very “of the moment.” And it’s getting responses, already, from galleries in Europe and closer to home.
We talked about retrospectives, of which Cash has had one: at Yeshiva University Museum in New York City in 2001. He’s ripe for more, liking the way that they help him understand how his work relates over the span of a career. In the meantime, the Swiss watch company, Rado, commissioned director Yaara Sumeruk to make videos profiling inspirational contemporary artists, including Cash. To see the Marlboro artist at work creating his light sculptures, visit https://cargocollective.com/sydneycash/Rado-Unlimited-Spirit-Video.
I asked whether, far from his childhood in Detroit, Cash feels comfortable calling himself an artist and not a tinkerer. “It’s a title I’ve come to deserve,” he said. “I’ve been dedicated and tenacious, and even gave the title up once, to then take it back later… Everybody has to figure out how to inhabit the term ‘artist’ on their own terms.”