In Leon Applebaum's sculptures, we literally feel the flow of the hot glass, a flow underlined by the interplay and mingling of the amorphous colors. But the sensuous contours of Applebaum's glass creations belie the fact that his art is an art of oppositions and contrasts.
His works announce themselves as basic geometric forms, usually variations of the sphere. But the form is not complete; it is truncated, pierced, or perforated. Similarly, the harmonies of rich, flowing color are punctuated by passages of pure white luminescence or mere emptiness. And the smooth, reflective surfaces are violated by bumps and protuberances or carved ripples which redirect the reflection of the light. The intention, of course, is to never let the viewer's eye rest complacent. As the French maxim asserts, "uniformity breeds boredom." Because the form is incomplete, the mind must work to complete it. Because the surface is irregular or fractured in some manner, the imagination will try to make it whole. And therein lies the fundamental appeal of the work. Because it puts us slightly off balance, we must continually engage with it. Its formal beauty lies in its being more suggestion than fact.
Applebaum's sculptures are the result of no single technique. In the artist's own words, I use glassblowing as a means, not an end. I use cooled blown pieces that are cut into elemental forms. I shape and imprint the glass with hand tools both while the glass is hot and molten as well as after it has cooled with cutting equipment. With the cold working techniques, I transform the blown work into a contemporary point of view."
The artist's proficiency in his craft comes from over one-half century of practice. Hailing from Ohio's "glass city," Toledo, he received his BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art and his MA from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. He pursued his interest in Swedish glass technique by studying and working abroad at Orrefors Glass and Boda Glass. Returning to the U.S.A., he received his MFA from Rochester Institute of Technology, where he has also taught. His work is in many collections around the world, including the McDonaugh Collection of American Art (Youngstown, Ohio), the Canton Art Institute, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, the Corning Museum of Glass, the Cincinnati Art Museum, and the Ajeto Glass Museum (Czech Republic).