Coming to New York in 2018: A Floating Glass Museum

The Corning Museum of Glass
The Corning Museum of Glass

In 2018, art fans in New York state who can’t make the trip to Steuben County to visit the Corning Museum of Glass can check out their floating mini-museum dedicated to the craft. Called GlassBarge, the traveling studio will cruise up the Hudson River and along the Erie Canal, providing live glass-blowing demonstrations in port cities along the way.


The Corning Museum of Glass

Corning, New York is home to Corning Incorporated, the major glass company once known as Corning Glass Works. Originally based in New York City and called the Brooklyn Flint Glass Company, the business relocated upstate in 1868 via New York’s rivers and waterways. Their commercial success ultimately led to the opening of the Corning Museum of Glass in 1951, which today contains one of the world's most important glass collections.


The Corning Museum of Glass

“The glass inventions and technology developed in Corning have shaped the modern world, from the first electric light bulbs for Thomas Edison and the invention of optical fiber for telecommunications, to the glass used in modern flat screen displays,” Rob Cassetti, Senior Director of Creative Strategy and Visitor Engagement at the Corning Museum of Glass, said in a statement.

Running from May through September, the upcoming GlassBarge voyage will help celebrate the 150th anniversary of the company's move from Brooklyn to upstate. The grant-funded trip kicks off in Brooklyn and ends in the Finger Lakes, with a concluding ceremony in Corning on September 22, 2018. Throughout the trip, glass artisans will hold live dockside demonstrations in Yonkers, Kingston, Albany, Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo. Guiding the barge will be a historic tugboat, the W. O. Decker, which will travel alongside the Lois McClure, a replica of an 1862 canal barge, and the C. L. Churchill, a 1964 tugboat.

In addition to marking an industrial milestone, GlassBarge will “allow us to share our story with a special audience: our neighbors here in New York state, who all know and love the waterways that enabled Corning to become what it is today,” Cassetti tells Mental Floss.

Could Leonardo da Vinci's Artistic Genius Be Due to an Eye Condition?

Young John the Baptist, Leonardo da Vinci (1513-16, Louvre, Paris).
Young John the Baptist, Leonardo da Vinci (1513-16, Louvre, Paris).
Christopher Tyler, JAMA Ophthalmology (2018)

Leonardo da Vinci was indisputably a genius, but his singular artistic vision may have been the result of seeing the world differently in more ways than one. A new paper argues that he had strabismus, a vision disorder where the eyes are misaligned and don’t look toward the same place at the same time. This disorder, visual neuroscientist Christopher Tyler argues, may have helped the artist render three-dimensional images on flat canvas with an extra level of skill.

Tyler is a professor at City, University of London who has written a number of studies on optics and art. In this study, published in JAMA Ophthalmology, he examined six different artworks from the period when Leonardo was working, including Young John the Baptist, Vitruvian Man, and a self-portrait by the artist. He also analyzed pieces by other artists that are thought to have used Leonardo as a model, like Andrea del Verrocchio’s Young Warrior sculpture. Leonardo served as the lead assistant in the latter artist’s studio, and likely served as the model for several of his works. Leonardo was also a friend of Benedetto da Maiano, and possibly served as a model for his 1480 sculpture of John the Baptist. Tyler also looked at the recently auctioned Salvator Mundi, a painting that not all experts believe can be attributed to Leonardo. (However, at least one scientific team that examined the painting says it’s legit.)

With strabismus, a person’s eyes appear to point in different directions. Based on the eyes in Leonardo’s own portraits of himself and other artworks modeled after him, it seems likely that he had intermittent strabismus. When he relaxed his eyes, one of his eyes drifted outward, though he was likely able to align his eyes when he focused. The gaze in the portraits and sculptures seems to be misaligned, with the left eye consistently drifting outward at around the same angle.

'Vitruvian Man' with the subject's pupils highlighted
Vitruvian Man, Leonardo da Vinci (~1490, Accademia, Venice)
Christopher Tyler, JAMA Ophthalmology (2018)

“The weight of converging evidence suggests that [Leonardo] had intermittent exotropia—where an eye turns outwards—with a resulting ability to switch to monocular vision, using just one eye,” Tyler explained in a press release. “The condition is rather convenient for a painter, since viewing the world with one eye allows direct comparison with the flat image being drawn or painted.” This would have given him an assist in depicting depth accurately.

Leonardo isn’t the first famous artist whose vision researchers have wondered about. Some have speculated that Degas’s increasingly coarse pastel work in his later years may have been attributed to his degenerating eyes, as the rough edges would have appeared smoother to him because of his blurred vision. Others have suggested that Van Gogh’s “yellow period” and the vibrant colors of Starry Night may have been influenced by yellowing vision caused by his use of digitalis, a medicine he took for epilepsy.

We can never truly know whether a long-dead artist’s work was the result of visual issues or simply a unique artistic vision, but looking at their art through the lens of medicine provides a new way of understanding their process.

Learn to Paint Like Bob Ross in an Upcoming Facebook Live Event

Public television hero Bob Ross may no longer be with us, but you can still paint happy little trees in his honor. October 29, 2018 marks what would have been the 76th birthday of the beloved art teacher to the masses, and to honor his memory, the Quarto Group—publisher of the new book Painting With Bob Ross—is hosting a live-streamed painting party online.

Painting With Bob Ross provides step-by-step instructions to help you create some of the master’s favorite oil landscapes on your own. While Quarto’s October 23 painting party (a collaboration with Bob Ross, Inc.) can’t teach you how to mimic Ross's soothing voice, the celebration does include a painting session with Bernie Oropallo, a Certified Ross Instructor, who will demonstrate the techniques that Ross taught on The Joy of Painting.

Promo for The Quarto Group's Bob Ross painting party
The Quarto Group

The live-streamed instructional session will take place within the offices of a youth arts center in Beverly, Massachusetts, called Express Yourself. Oropallo will lead you through the process of painting “Distant Mountains,” one of the artworks included in the new book.

The painting lesson kicks off at 7:30 p.m. ET on October 23. To participate, log onto Facebook and head to the QuartoCreates page to join the live event. Before it starts, check out the event page here for a list of the supplies you’ll need to complete the painting. If you can’t make it to a computer that night, grab Painting With Bob Ross on Amazon ($15) to get the next best thing. If that’s not enough for you, we suggest you curl up with the official Bob Ross art book and/or a Bob Ross coloring book.

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