First Colony Branch Library, 2121 Austin Parkway in Sugar Land, will feature an exhibit of glass-encapsulated miniatures throughout the month of January in the lobby of the library.
From the studio of Sugar Land resident Burton D. Reckles, the art pieces include a variety of miniatures encased in bottles, light bulbs, and pocket-watch cases. The collection includes traditional ships-in-bottles, humorous dioramas, whimsical children’s fantasy scenes, Judaic mementos, and Holocaust art.
Reckles began his hobby more than 65 years ago, when he started building models from kits and eventually worked his way up to scratch-built museum pieces. At the suggestion of his wife about 27 years ago, his focus turned to miniatures, particularly ships in bottles. Once he mastered this technique, he broadened his choice of media to include light bulbs and watch cases.
“I create works on various subjects for different reasons,” says Reckles. “In some cases, working on a piece serves as a creative outlet, while in other cases – such as the Holocaust – I have a personal affiliation to the event and wish to maintain its visibility.” He adds that his wife says his work is a product of a “quirky sense of humor.”
Reckles also enjoys his hobby because he believes in keeping alive a 400-year-old dying art-form. “The art was born in the late 1600s, but today, in this country of over 300 million [people], there are less than 100 artisans still pursuing the art. In another generation, the only examples of GEMs (Glass-Encapsulated Miniatures) will be seen in museums and private collections,” he explains. “I hope that perhaps someone seeing my work will get inspired to try to create their own GEM and, in so doing, delay the art’s passing.”
Some of Reckles’ art pieces have been exhibited in museum collections in Japan, Europe, and the San Diego and Houston Maritime Museums, as well as at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, DC, where a curator titled the piece “modern American maritime art.” He has won numerous awards for his artwork.
The exhibit may be viewed during regular library hours. For more information, call the branch library at 281-238-2800 or the library’s Public Information Office at 281-341-2677.