The Hidden-Away Glass Artist

by Celia Hayes

You know, I am almost going to have to take the camera with me everywhere, or buy a memory card for my cellie and learn to use the camera function, because there are occasions which just cry out for a lot of pictures to be taken, and today was one of them. Last spring, my daughter and I had begun the Sunday morning habit of walking the dog on various stretches of the Salado Greenway. We left off doing this when it just got too darned hot, even on the most thickly-wooded leg – that between Ladybird Johnson Park and Oakwell Farms. This last weekend, we started up again, though – and I had it in mind to hike the stretch from Oakwell Farms down to where the trail currently dwindles down to practically nothing at Rittiman. For a goodly part of that leg of the Greenway, it parallels Holbrook Road, running past a scattering of houses, several large churches, an extensive blackberry tangle, the site of the 1842 Battle of Salado, and Victoria's Black Swan Inn, which is supposed to be the most thoroughly haunted place in San Antonio. Well, we are coming up to Halloween, aren't we?

It was a wonderful morning, cool and not too breezy, the bicycle traffic was light to moderate, and very courteous – the riders called out to us, upon coming up from behind, and there was actually some water in Salado Creek, from the rain a couple of weeks ago.

Just by the side driveway into the Black Swan premises, we noticed there was a sign for a glass studio, and on an impulse we decided – what the heck! We'd walk up the long graveled driveway – which seemed to lead nowhere but into a tangle of sheds, aging automobiles and assorted intriguing junk – pretty much your basic funky rural collection.

At the top of the hill, the driveway curved around, underneath a tall pecan tree and a huge old wooden water-tank elevated on tall posts – and there was the glass studio, housed in a tidy little shed in the back-forty of the Black Swan, and Mr. Howard Redman the glass artist, who seemed to be just hanging out on a Sunday morning. But oh – the glass! My mother did stained glass, but her stuff was nothing as to Mr. Redman's: stained and fused glass – the side of his workshop was covered with fused-glass platters, no two of them alike. He also does lampshades in the Frank Lloyd Wright Prairie style, some of them mounted on vintage metal bases, and he showed us one of several thick albums of past work, most of them for serious quantities of money: panels and windows, some of them in the monumental Tiffany style. The most spectacular of these was eight feet square, more or less – and contained something like 4,000 separate pieces.

The original panel is now in a place in Chicago; otherwise you would not have been able to drag me away for ooh-ing and ah-ing. We were just no end impressed at finding this outpost of art, hidden away. And next time – I will take the camera. Mr. Redman does not have a website, being possibly the last working artist in the world to not have one, but there you go. Artists can do pretty much as they darned please. Just take my word for it – his stuff is sublime. 1006 Holbrook Road. Past the enormous hanging wind-chime and the 1940 vintage ambulance and bear right at the rusting remains of what looks like an old restaurant stove.