FAIRFIELD — Arthur Stern started his career in an architect’s office. When he didn’t see young designers like him getting the jobs they desired, he went back to school and shifted gears.
“I became more interested in art than in buildings,” Stern said.
The Arthur Stern Studio is one of more than 70 studios participating in Arts Benicia Open Studios, May 3-4.
Stern has done extensive research on Frank Lloyd Wright. His studio has restored or replicated windows by Wright.
Wright’s original blueprints for the Storrer House in Hollywood included windows with leaded-glass detailing. Cost overruns prohibited them from being installed when it was built, Stern said.
Stern worked with Eric Lloyd Wright, grandson of Frank Lloyd Wright, and the home’s current owner to finish the 92 windows.
Wright’s work serves as a departure point for his own work, Stern said.
One of his most recent Public Art Projects was six 10-foot by 6-foot windows for the Cary, N.C., Fire Station No. 8.
He used the tools of the fire department in his designs, employing abstracted brown ladders, white hoses and gold nozzles against a water-glass background.
Another window design was inspired a visit with where the flag was flying at half-staff in honor of a public official who had died. The image was too good to pass up, Stern said.
One of his current projects has a local connection. He’s designed architectural glass that will be installed in the Clay Bank Jail’s family area. The theme is the changing seasons, represented by leaves. The 17 panels of beveled glass should be installed in May.
Stern is also working on laminated glass panels for San Francisco General Hospital. He drew inspiration from the city’s multicultural residents, as well as the streets, hills, skyline and buildings.
He would like to do architectural glass for an airport.
Open studios offer him the opportunity to try new things as well as clean up his studio, which once housed tank shells.
He has a new painting to showcase.
“It’s like a deadline,” Stern said of Open Studios. “Like going to college and getting that project in by the end of the semester.”
Stern has been in the same studio for 20 years and hasn’t missed an Open Studios.
“Anytime you have thousands of people coming through your studio, it’s a great thing,” he said. “Some artists are a little shy. I enjoy it. It’s a chance for friends to see what you have created this year.”
He would love to see more people visit the vibrant arts community located in the historic arsenal. Most of the participating studios are within walking distance, Stern said.
Now, if he could only figure out a way to get a quarter from every person who comes to Open Studios and tells him how beautiful his work is.
“I could get a fine dinner that night,” he said.
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.