First comprehensive Judson Studios exhibition reveals diversity of contemporary and historic stained glass

April 23–September 6, 2020
Forest Lawn Museum, Forest Lawn–Glendale

GLENDALE, CAJudson Studios: Stained Glass from Gothic to Street Style brings together two of Los Angeles’s preeminent, century-old cultural institutions—Judson Studios and Forest Lawn Museum—for an exhibition that shines a new light on the contemporary and historic practices of stained glass through the pioneering work of Judson Studios. The exhibition is on view at Forest Lawn Museum from April 23–September 6, 2020, with a press preview and public opening on the evening of April 23. Judson Studios includes nearly 100 original stained glass artworks, preparatory drawings, oil paintings, watercolors, and archival photographs as well as collaborations with contemporary artists that redefine traditional stained glass art. This first comprehensive Judson Studios exhibition is drawn primarily from the archives of Judson Studios. Many of the pieces have never been exhibited, while some new artworks are on public display for the first time. The exhibition also highlight’s Forest Lawn’s stained glass collection, which is one of the largest in the United States and includes works from preeminent European and American artists that span several centuries. Judson Studios coincides with the publication of JUDSON: Innovation in Stained Glass by David Judson and Steffie Nelson, available March 17, 2020, through Angel City Press.

Judson Studios is the oldest family-run stained glass studio in America. Founded in Los Angeles in 1897 by the painter William Lees Judson and his three sons, it has been producing stained glass art for churches, libraries, museums, homes, and other buildings for more than 120 years. The exhibition highlights the traditional practices of the studio with turn-of-the century paintings by William Lees Judson; watercolor and stained glass work by stained glass maven and once-lead designer for Tiffany Studios Frederick Wilson; a hand-crafted window from Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic 1924 Ennis House; as well as archival photographs, an architectural rendering, and original glass blocks from the windows of the Air Force Academy Cadet Chapel, a towering space-age structure and masterpiece of Mid-Century Modernism.

Though renowned for creating world-class stained glass for over a century, Judson Studios has continued to push the boundaries of art and glass. In addition to working in stained glass, they began fusing glass by incorporating new methods of “kilnforming,” which allows for even more dynamic painterly effects. The exhibition features examples of this process, including the original 5- x 4-foot central panel from the Resurrection Window, a 3,400-square-foot artwork located in Leawood, Kansas that is the world’s largest fused glass window.

The exhibition also exemplifies how Judson Studios has breathed new life into the field of stained glass by working with an array of artists to translate their visions into colored glass. Judson Studios includes collaborations with several contemporary artists whose work scintillates in the new medium, including painter and street artist David Flores, a California native best known for street murals that combine elements of Pop Art with a stained-glass aesthetic; and Miles MacGregor, better known as EL MAC, who is renowned for his public murals, graffiti, and acrylic painting.

A number of contemporary collaborations in the exhibition showcase Judson Studios’ trailblazing practices, including LA-based mixed media artist Marco Zamora’s juxtaposition of Gothic lettering evocative of a Medieval cathedral with a figure depicted in modern clothing and kaleidoscopic colors; internationally renowned Italian glass artist Narcissus Quagliata’s fantasy and sci-fi-inspired fused glass creations; sculptor, installation artist, and professor Jane Brucker’s figurative stained glass panels incorporated into wooden chairs; and sculptor, illustrator, and experimental filmmaker Alice Wang’s series of amorphous glass forms, which are reminiscent of molten lava and subvert conventional notions of sculpture and glass art through their placement on the gallery floor. The collaborations also include two artworks that have never been displayed publicly: fine and tattoo artist Shay Bredimus’s work, which was inspired by the Gothic architecture and Neoclassical sculpture of Forest Lawn, and Joseph Paul Gerges’s large stained and fused glass window, which incorporates elements of traditional Old Masters woodblock printing and figurative style that the artist often uses in his painting and printmaking.

Ennis House. Judson Studios.

“Judson Studios reimagines and redefines stained glass,” says Forest Lawn Museum Director and exhibition curator James Fishburne, PhD. “The exhibition offers an understanding of its contemporary applications and a greater appreciation for the intricacies of the centuries-old practice.”

To complement Judson’s dedication to traditional techniques, Forest Lawn Museum will reveal several Medieval and Renaissance stained glass windows built into the museum walls, which have not been on display for six years. The windows include one designed by Albrecht Dürer, the renowned German Renaissance artist. All of the windows in this group were created between the twelfth and sixteenth centuries in France and Germany, then purchased from the William Randolph Hearst Collection in the 1950s.

In addition to the two exhibition galleries, Judson Studios moves beyond the museum to the neighboring Medieval-style Hall of Crucifixion-Resurrection, which houses Gothic lancet windows and an 11-foot-wide rose window created by Judson Studios in 1951. Judson created glass work for Forest Lawn dating back to 1920, and several buildings at Forest Lawn, including the Great Mausoleum, feature Judson windows. The exhibition demonstrates a century of intertwined histories of two of Southern California’s oldest, continually operating artistic institutions.

Judson Studios also underscores the importance of stained glass to Forest Lawn’s artistic heritage. Hundreds of hand-crafted windows adorn the architecture at each of Forest Lawn’s six memorial parks, comprising a large portion of Forest Lawn Museum’s permanent collection. In addition to windows by Judson Studios, Forest Lawn features work by artists such as Charles Connick, a prominent twentieth-century painter and designer who also made windows for major cathedrals in Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C. One of Forest Lawn’s most exceptional works of stained glass is the monumental Last Supper Window, a full-scale re-creation of Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, completed in 1931 by the Italian artist Rosa Moretti, which is the artistic focal point of Forest Lawn’s Great Mausoleum.

“Forest Lawn is proud to partner with an institution that has so profoundly shaped the artistic landscape of Los Angeles and beyond for more than a century,” says Rodolfo Saenz, Forest Lawn’s Senior Vice President, Marketing. “Judson Studios reveals the precision, technical expertise, and artistic vision that make some of the most iconic pieces of stained glass art possible. It is also an exciting opportunity to showcase works from Judson Studios and the Forest Lawn Museum permanent collection, including some that are rarely displayed and others that have never before been exhibited.”

Judson Studios: Stained Glass from Gothic to Street Style tells a comprehensive history of this important studio and provides a view into the vibrant future of a medium that has developed rapidly in recent years and is becoming a vital component of the contemporary art scene. With both historic and contemporary art, the exhibition invites viewers to reimagine the limits of what is possible with stained glass while admiring the complexities and intricacies of the traditional practice.

Judson Studios: Stained Glass from Gothic to Street Style is open April 23–September 6, 2020 at Forest Lawn Museum. There will be a public opening reception on April 23, from 5:00 PM–8:00 PM with a special guest speaker David Judson. Guests are invited to RSVP to the opening to [email protected]. For details about the media preview, members of the press are invited to email Tom Smith at [email protected]The exhibition is on view at Forest Lawn Museum, Forest Lawn—Glendale, 1712 S. Glendale Blvd., Glendale, CA 91205. The Museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Admission and parking are FREE. Call 323.340.4782 or visit for details and program information.