Jim Cumiskey was looking for a way to use his extra time after retiring from a 40-year railroad career with CSX Transportation.
Jim's longtime companion, Bill Stephens, died in June 1999. Bill did artwork using crushed glass, and so, in memory of his friend, Jim decided to try the same art form. The design on Jim's "hobby" - not business - cards, was his first crushed glass work, featuring three black figures in his friend's honor. The figures are dancing, reminiscent of 21 years that Jim spent teaching ballroom dancing at Allegany College of Maryland with his partner Peggy Mackert.
Looking at Jim's pictures is different than looking at an oil painting or watercolor. They kind of glisten in the sunlight and are textured. He uses designs found in books, the newspaper, or wherever. He also buys design books, but his color choices are original. He has also used photographs he has taken to complete several of his designs.
Various thicknesses of black cord are used to outline the design on painted canvas board. The crushed, colored glass, called "frit," which is purchased in jars, is affixed inside the spaces using craft glue. The finished product is like looking at a stained glass picture that light will not come through. While he has done one piece on glass, it does not lend itself well to this type of art.
Jim's first crushed glass work, mentioned above, was done on a six-inch square wood block and is part of a sampler featuring area artists from the Allegany Area Art Alliance. It is frequently referred to as a "wooden quilt," and was raffled off to raise money for projects to help teach art to schoolchildren.
Jim creates his crushed glass art for friends, gives them as gifts, and has sold a few of them. He had his first gallery showing during the month of January 2005 at the 60 N. Centre Gallery in Downtown Cumberland. According to the proprietor, Jim set a record when he sold nine (9) pieces at his opening reception. Currently, Jim has pieces on display at the Rottiron Fitness Center in LaVale, Rocky Gap Lodge & Golf Resort in Flintstone, and the TriState Community Health Center on Kelly Road in Cumberland. Jim also had a piece purchased by the Queen City Creamery and Deli in Cumberland, which is on permanent display behind their ice cream counter.
Jim also does commissioned work. He specializes in creating images of children/adults, houses, pets, cars - just about anything as long as he has at least a 5” x 7” photograph from which to work.
Jim is a member of the Allegany Area Art Alliance as well as the Allegany Arts Council. He may be contacted at his home telephone of 301-724-2909, or arrangements may be made to visit him at his studio apartment located at 12612 Wilson Lane SE, Apt. 1, Cumberland, MD 21502.