A few weeks ago I was walking outside the American Array exhibition and came across collections technician Alan Ness taking a blowtorch to Jack Zajac’s Ram’s Skull and Horn. Obviously he was just applying a protective coating to the sculpture, not committing felony-level vandalism, but I couldn’t help but stare slack-jawed. As I chatted briefly with Al about his daily routine I became intrigued, and realized the world needs to know more about Al, in all his Al-ness (sorry Al!).

As a glass artist, Ness is no stranger to working with art and fire. His works were recently on view in Hawaii Glass Artists at Windward Community College’s Gallery ‘Iolani. Ness—who is a big fan of horror movies—explains that he is drawn to eerie symbolist works of French painter Odilon Redon. For his Staff Pick, Ness chose Redon’s Lady of the Flowers.

“I’ve always enjoyed Redon, he was contemporary with the Impressionists but he was more known for symbolism and the symbolism movement. His works are dreamy, ethereal; he was really outside of his time. He was kind of the father of surrealism before it was even a thing. His work is a bit nightmarish, and a lot of the lithographs in his noir series are pretty gnarly.

Redon’s works have crept in to pop culture, and I think I’ve even seen that his lithographs have crept into the background of the Hannibal TV series. It’s a pleasure for me to be able to walk and see this piece on a daily basis.”

Odilon Redon (French, 1840-1916)
Lady of the Flowers, 1890-5
Oil on canvas
Purchase, Louise and Walter F. Dillingham Fund, 1964