50 Years of Studio Glass: California Contributions: a California Glass Exchange

Last November, The Crucible in Oakland hosted a symposium celebrating the 50th anniversary of the American Studio Glass movement called “50 Years of Studio Glass: California Contributions: a California Glass Exchange”. Local glass artists, Mary White and Michelle Knox, co produced this wonderful event by modeling it after previous California Glass Exchanges, G.A.S conferences and Great California Glass Symposiums. It was with this spirit of community, collaboration and education that a comprehensive two-day program was developed.

The symposium offered over 600 attendees a unique opportunity to meet, and learn from, over 120 prominent glass artists who work and/or teach in California. The majority of the conferences’ presenting artists spanned five decades and included some of the early founders and innovators of the studio glass movement and many new rising stars. The two-day event included glass demos, lectures, and over 90 pieces of original California glass art in a two-day art exhibition that was truly amazing. [at right: Ed Kirshner in the Neon Studio]

A first person description from Mary and Michelle

In January 2012 we approached the Crucible Director, Steven Young and he agreed the Crucible would donate the space to host our event, with the understanding that we would organize and fund all expenses other than the studio space.  We spent over 8 months, with a host of volunteers and interns developing the concept of the entire event and endless hours on logistics. There were so many details that went into creating this event and the accompanying program/ catalog and web site, that without the serious dedication of several keys team members: Barbara Barnett, Dale Beevers, Daniel Stauber and Daniel Erwin, and others in the Advisory Committee, it would not have been possible.

The overwhelming success of this event really solidified important role of the beautiful, generous and talented community of artists, collectors and glass enthusiasts that we have here in California and made all the late nights and stress worth it. The symposium far exceeded our expectations of attendance levels and participation from the community, as well as the fund raising capabilities. GLANC, AACG and other organizations were pivotal in making our vision a reality and in the end we actually broke even, which is amazing from a planning perspective. We send a special acknowledgement and thanks to all of the many, many talented people who helped make the Symposium possible. It was truly a glass team effort.

The goal for us was to celebrate the rich history of CA glass artists and to bring together a spirit of community, friendship and collaboration. The feedback that people gave us was truly heart warming. Both of us received numerous emails, phone call and hugs from happy and thankful participants. People seemed to truly enjoy themselves and it was awesome to see so many people re connect and to witness strangers meeting for the first time who only knew each other by name or not at all.

The event was filled with so many old friends smiling, talking and working together. It was so rewarding to be able to bring our diverse community together in one place, at one time for the love of art and glass in particular. It is our hope that others can also see the value of energizing a community with this type of positive event and the momentum. We both wish that we could do this type of event more often and we encourage others to make similar projects in their own communities. It is really a priceless experience to see the value of recognizing each other’s talents and skills collectively once in a while.

Michelle & Mary Jaime Guererro (left) brought students from LA

Additionally, forming the bond between the two of us was one of the best parts.  We were virtually strangers before and now are good friends and partners in crime, so to speak. It was a pleasure to get to know each other and to form a connection with another female artist who is 30 years apart in age. The connection truly exemplifies the power of art and community and of the glass community in particular.

Documenting CA Studio Glass history

For the symposium, we created a web site for the event and hope to continue the site and to continue to archive a more complete directory of CA artists who work with glass: www.californiastudioglass.org.

At the symposium we also started a CA Glass Time Line for participants to add to.  Many parts of the history of CA glass are not well documented and this is our opportunity to start. [at right: Glass Time Line]

If you are interested in helping with this on-going project, please contact Mary, Michelle or Randy Strong.

Mary: mwhiteglass@gmail.com
Michelle: michelle@michelleknox.com
Randy: randystrong47@gmail.com

[Mary White and Michelle Knox]