In 1983, Glenn and I embarked on an adventure together, exploring the mystical qualities of crystals and the arcane process of cutting and shaping them. The culmination of our ten year journey was the creation of the mega-gem sculpture Bahia.
Glenn and I frequented the same circle of friends. I knew him as a talented gem cutter, but had no interest in stones or jewelry myself until one day when I saw Glenn wearing a crystal pendant he had fashioned. It so captivated me that I told him, “You have to show me how you did that.” Fortunately, he was gracious enough to accommodate my demand. Glenn and I spent the next seven years almost inseparable, figuring out through trial and error the tools and techniques that would allow us to cut larger and larger crystals. Our obsession powered us through the difficulties and challenges ofuncharted territory. We were the Lewis and Clark of crystal cutting, mapping a frontier of the great Unknown. And like most explorers, we had to learn to survive while we figured out where we were going.
We were passionate and doggedly determined to succeed. Had we been smarter, we might have gotten day jobs to support our families. But we were just naïve enough to plow into our shared passion, taking on each new challenge that presented itself with a “we can figure this out” attitude. Bahia was the culminating project that not only extended us artistically, but was formative in shaping who we were each to become.
The grinding that Glenn and I did over the years was not simply for the crystals we fashioned. The intense process of working together to pioneer a new art form forced us to continually shed the skins of our “lesser” selves to grow into new people. We had no choice; it was either work through our problems or never see one another again. With the help of our loving wives, Sharon and Sunni, we continually chose the less comfortable path of working it out. The result of our willingness to evolve our friendship and place it ahead of hardships was ultimately rewarded by the creation of Bahia. Bahia was birthed from our commitment to maintain the integrity of our friendship, knowing if we did this, we could work through any other problems physical matter might throw at us—such as sculpting a spectacular 800-pound rutilated crystal. We were joined in our efforts by the brilliant efforts of metal sculptor Pepe Ozán.
When admiring a work of art, the observer sees only the art. But beyond the curves and facets, the artist sees reflections, the agonies and joys comprising the process that changes one’s life forever.
For Glenn and me, Bahia was this kind of art.
Bahia is now hanging in the Gemological Institute of America in Carlsbad, California.