Articles/Media - Hill Country Sun

Powerful, fractured, faceted and diamond-like, Bill Meek's glass sculpture and furniture will fascinate and seduce you. It's like nothing you've ever seen before.

In his broken glass style, Bill creates pieces that are paradoxes. Fluid while still, hard and straight while soft and round, shiny and bright while translucent and subtle, they illuminate not just the room but your soul.

Tables made from stacked pieces of glacier - primordial, contemporary, and abstract - capture your eye with their grace and delicacy. A six-foot spire full of color, movement, and strength seems to reach for the heavens in praise. Plate-sized, ice glass snowflakes hang in mid fall while glass grass and urban cactus spring from the polished earth.

"I love glass," says the 42-year-old smiling artist, especially when it's "broken into a 1,000 jewels" and then "frozen into new forms."

Friendly and unassuming, Bill says he sometimes feels that through his sculpture he is making magic: "nothing is more exciting than to watch the wonder and energy it creates."

He recently installed six glass and steel mobiles, each 20 square feet, in the lobby of the Wells Fargo Bank in Houston.

"It was so neat to see people come in with business on their minds, look up, stop, turn around..." and get a moment of relief from life's pressures, he says with pride. That ah-ha moment, that mini-epiphany is what art is supoosed to do for the viewer and by any definition, Bill Meek is an artist.

He started his career in his parents' garage where he made his constructions from wire, bottles, whatever was around. One of nine children in an Air Force family, Bill grew up all over the world - the Philippines, Alaska, New York, and Virginia with lots of visits to Washington, D.C.

They didn't have much money, so the family visited the monuments, bronze sculptures, museums, and outstanding architecture in Washington.

Bill feels that those monuments and buildings were his first strong artistic influence and from then on he wanted to be a sculptor, to do something creative with his hands.

At 15, he started carving wood and making furniture. Later, he studied under Italian cabinet maker Evangelo Tanni and worked as a designer for a furniture company. Soon he owned his own wood shop.

His work was always different and artistic, incorporating burley parts of burned trees or odd pieces of wood collected from rivers that he intricately carved. He started using the sandblaster from his wood shop on glass and soon left the wood work behind.

In 1981, Bill moved to Houston to help his brother renovate a house, planning to stay only a few months.

"I got lucky, very lucky, and I've been blessed, very blessed," he says.

That first year in Houston he met and feel deeply for Valerie, the love of his life and wife now of 17 years. Also that first year he did large glass etchings for two high-profile restaurants, Michael Angelo's and Rivoli, that gave him the exposure he needed. Soon came commissions for sculptural glass fountains, stairways, wall pieces, and furniture for some of the most beautiful houses he'd ever seen, as well as from corporations and organizations such as the Houston Museum of Natural Science and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

With a desire to do more three-dimensional pieces and large scale projects, Bill's sculpting in glass evolved. He also had to do something with all the broken glass he had strewn around.

Unlike hot-glass artists who blow their pieces to the desired shape, Bill works in cold glass. This allows him the time to grind, carve, polish and shape the glass as he wishes; it also allows him to construct pieces that are dramatically large.

He loves that freedom to construct, whether it's a smaller desk piece, or the focus of a corporate lobby, or a baptismal font in a church. Bill is currently creating 12 large glass carvings and murals full of stories and symbols from the Old Testament for Congregation Beth Yeshurum in Houston as part of their $5 million remodeling project.

Symbolism is an important part of Bill's work.

"Symbols are like a language," he says, adding substance and meaning to what we experience. "All my work has a story within a story." He loves the symbolism inherent in the glass itself. "It's like us: complex, strong, fragile." Special circumstances must come together to make it happen and we take it, like our lives, for granted.

Explaining what he tries to express in his work, the artist points to a crystalline snowflake floating from a tree in the sunny yard. "That snowflake is an important symbol to me," he explains. "Life like, so precious, so automatically ours, such an absolute phenomena. It's a gift, it's beautiful, and it's full of meaning."

In 1998, Bill and Valerie moved their two boys, their home and the studio to Wimberley.

"It feels good here... the right time, the right place," Bill says.

Meek Studio & Gallery (NEW LOCATION)
1903 Spring Street
Houston, Texas 77007
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