Hidden away from the bustle of Los Angeles sits the Craftsman-era home of Judson Studios, the legendary family of artisans who began handcrafting stained glass windows in 1897.
On March 15, 2020, Judson Studios and Angel City Press will celebrate the release of JUDSON: Innovation in Stained Glass, the first book of its kind to chronicle this remarkable five-generation history. From the earliest days of the studio, during the Arts and Crafts Movement to the newly refined fused stained glass used in todays contemporary buildings, Judson Studios has been recognized internationally as among the worlds finest stained glass artistry.
Representing both its rich past and pioneering future, Judsons seminal projects including places of worship and contemplation, cemeteries and mausoleums, libraries, universities, hotels, hospitals, historic homes, restaurants, theaters, airports, casinos, resorts, country clubs, monuments, museums, Los Angeles landmarks, and more is showcased through more than 300 original color images in the pages of JUDSON.
Glass has maintained its relevance over time because it reflects contemporary society; what remains unchanged is the pure, visceral impact of color and light through stained glass. The unmatched beauty and authenticity of the material has resonated deep within us for centuries, and it will continue to do so, whether the setting is sacred or secular, public or private, said the books author and fifth generation Judson Studios president David Judson. In the process of writing this book, understanding the history of our company and separating family lore from fact became an exercise in developing a vision for the future.
Co-authored with writer Steffie Nelson, JUDSON showcases the vibrant history of the family, beginning with William Lees Judson, a plein-air painter who migrated to Los Angeles in 1893. He found his way to the tiny Arroyo community of Garvanza, nestled between the borders of Los Angeles and Pasadena, and quickly became involved in the arts community that had gravitated to the area. By 1895, Judson was dean of the School of Fine Arts at the University of Southern California. And by 1906, his son Walter had founded the first Judson studio bearing the family name, W.H. Judson Art Glass Company.
From the patriarchs original Craftsman-era home and studio (named a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument in 1969), five generations of Judsons have now worked with artists, architects, and designers to create Old World-style stained glass whose quality and craftsmanship have often been compared to the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany. Though famed for its Craftsman glass, Judson has become world-renowned for its innovations in stained glass art and technology, drawing the attention of experts and lighting the way to the fields future.
In one of its chapters, JUDSON tells the story of how Frank Lloyd Wright tapped Judson Studios in the 1920s to execute his designs for the subtly colored windows at Hollyhock House, the architects most famous structure in Los Angeles, which was recently named a UNESCO World Heritage site. Nearly a century after they were created, the windows were also meticulously restored by Judson glassmakers.
Much of Judsons finest work has been installed in religious buildings of various denominations. JUDSON illustrates the studios fine work in churches dating back to the early 20th century, as well as more recent works, including the extraordinarily modern Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel in Colorado Springs, completed in 1962, whose soaring panels of color introduced an architecturally mesmerizing approach to stained glass that had never been executed before. Judsons restoration work at Los Angeles famed Wilshire Boulevard Temple has been called nothing short of extraordinary.
The new book also details how, in 2018, Judson created the worlds largest fused glass window for the Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas. Including 161 panels, and measuring more than 3,400 square feet of art glass, the Resurrection Window made news throughout the world, intriguing congregants and tourists alike with its precision detail and artful melding of colors in a mural that depicted both sacred and secular stories.
Once Judson Studios developed methods for blending subtle variations of color in glass for the Church of the Resurrection project, the possibilities of glass as an artists medium were made increasingly apparent. Now, in addition to its work in traditional leaded stained glass, the book explains how Judson Studios is working with fine artists to create effects in glass that have never before been achievable. Most recently translating fine art into glass, the studios worked with artist Sarah Cain to create her 10-by-150-foot work We Will Walk Right Up To The Sun installed in the Airtrain terminal of San Francisco International Airport, and unveiled in Sept. 2019.
Today, having built the only major fusing studio in the world in 2016, there is an excitement building up again in the world of stained glass. While traditional work remains the foundation of Judson Studio, the fusing capabilities represent the future of the medium, said Judson. We have only scratched the surface of what can be done and we are just beginning a new era in the art of stained glass.
On Sunday, March 15, from 3 to 6 p.m., Judson Studios and Angel City Press will celebrate the release of JUDSON with a party at Judson Studios East (143 Pasadena Avenue, South Pasadena, Calif. 91030).