Bay Area artist Mildred Howard, well-known for glass sculptures, including one made of bottles that recently went up in Palo Alto, takes the substantially tarnished idea of home and gives it a mind-bending twist with a structure defiantly titled This House Will Not Pass for Any Color but its Own. Built of hand-blown slabs of purple glass held aloft by cylindrical red posts sunk into the terrazzo floor, the dwelling, sized and shaped like a bus stop shelter, stands just outside a security screening area.
Like the Red Rabbit, its appearance varies according to the time of day. It’s both transparent and reflective, and when it reflects light it sometimes does so with blinding intensity. Stand inside and you get a different experience. Metallic-hued strips embedded in the glass appear to be identical, but they are not. As with the exterior, some are transparent and others are reflective. What’s impossible to know unless someone tells you is that those pieces also spell out – in a highly abstract fashion – bits of text from Gold Rush-era letters that Howard sourced from the California Historical Society. It was a way, says the artist, of pulling the past into the future “using the physics of light “as a metaphor” to show us “what’s here and what’s gone. You see your reflection in these fragmented letters and you become part of that experience whether you know it or not.”