Jim Anderson: Splendor in the Glass

Shop Girl by Kitty Kaufman

What makes Boston classic? Some say the Ritz, others Trinity Church and Copley Square or the mansions on Commonwealth Avenue, the Public Garden in any season, the Museum of Fine Arts, and always the cobblestones of Beacon Hill. Classical elements in mood, perhaps, and architecture are well defined in so many buildings and if you are very lucky, their windows, doors and skylights.

Jim Anderson, artist and craftsman, has for more than 25 years designed, built and installed glass monuments to classicism along Back Bay and South End streets and well into the suburbs of Brookline, Newton, Weston, Wellesley, Concord and beyond. You can see his doorways along Beacon Hill where stained and etched glass allows the softest lights and greatest of privacy to co-exist.

His glass works are also found in more public venues: Bonfire, Turner Fisheries, Thai Basil, and the door to the governor's office in the State House. One of his trademarks is making the work look like it's been there forever. He said, "On our restoration projects we like it when you can't tell what is old or what's new. A transom could be 100 years old or something that was made last week. Our focus is being historically accurate and creating glass that looks like it should be there."

And so the marks of a good classic education continue. Anderson studied painting at the Museum School of Fine Arts. After, he went to Mass College of Art to get a teaching degree. All along he was putting himself through school with his stained glass commissions. He said, "Once you start working in stained glass, the power of color coming through the glass is so seductive that you almost never paint again."

His studio is on Tremont Street in the South End where he had the foresight to settle during the seventies. Inspiration comes from the client, he said. "I want to know how they want the room to feel. Is it moody or bright and is the window going to be the focal point or merely background? People tell me their favorite colors and ideas, which is important because I want the work to express the owner's personality."

He will show you beveled, leaded, stained, engraved and etched samples for front doors, sidelights, skylights, transoms, bathroom windows, parlor doors and room dividers. Before the glass is made, his team makes fine art presentations in pen and ink watercolor sketches that capture color and design. Once the work is made, they do all of the installation work for their architects, decorators, contractors and residential clients.

© October 12, 2005 for The City Shopper
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