A Don Shepherd Memorial Exhibition:
Dia de los Blenko
The Blenko Museum, Seattle, WA
November 2002 to April 2003
Don Shepherd (Oct 9, 1930 - Feb 23, 2002) was Blenko's resident designer from 1974 to 1988. He was Blenko's fifth and longest tenured resident designer. Shepherd was born in Eureka, CA and lived in Stamford, CT for 30 years. At age 71 he met an untimely death in a traffic accident, the first of the seven Blenko designers to pass away. This show is a memorial retrospective of his designs for Blenko.
During his tenure, Shepherd introduced 8 new colors to the Blenko palette, including Grass, Apricot, Opaline Yellow, Midnight Blue, and Slate. As an active Studio Glass artist, his most significant contributions to Blenko were his Specialty Lines, notably Blue Top Mountain, Rock, Big Sky, and Contempo.
We chose the Mexican holiday - Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) as a framework for this exhibit. Celebrated on November 2nd, it follows traditions started by the Aztecs and merged with the Catholic Feast of All Soul's Day. It is a time to honor ancestors and loved ones, and a time to instill a positive attitude towards life and death.
Tradition states that the dead come back to visit the living during the holiday. For this reason the colors are garishly bright, the music is loud, the odors from the food and flowers are pungent and the menu is spicy - all to guide the dead back to visit and celebrate with the living.
Death, represented by the skeleton, is presented with humor and affection. It is in this mood of celebration & honor of the life of Don Shepherd that we present the exhibit.
"The word 'death' is not pronounced in New York, in Paris, in London, because it burns the lips. The Mexican, on the contrary, has a familiarity with death, he laughs at it, caresses it; it is one of his favorite toys and his most constant love.
Octavio Paz, The Labyrinth of Solitude
all photos courtesy of Erskine Wood