Glass Art Society’s 43rd Conference:
Strengthening Community, Collaboration, Forging New Bonds

Chicago, Illinois
March 19-22, 2014

Dear GLANC members, here is a short story of my stellar GAS Chicago adventure.

Chicago GAS was a rich and joyful celebration of Chicago’s cultural and visual heritage, with glass as the focus. The event centered at the Palmer House Hilton for speakers and technical display and hotel rooms for most participants. This brief description will give you an outline. I urge you to use the links I have included to investigate further!

Wednesday March 19, I arrived and by coincidence, at the airport saw Marvin Liposky and Jim Meyers and his family from East Bay Batch. Part of the fun of the GAS conferences is to catch up with friends that one does not see often at home! A little snow fell but it stayed over 50 F most of the trip. We entered the Palmer House through huge peacock gates. Peacock feather designed carpets of gorgeous variations were on every floor. It was an inspiration in color and form including garnet-draped chandeliers, Louis Comfort Tiffany masterpieces, and a breathtaking ceiling fresco by French painter Louis Pierre Rigal. The hotel was a gift to Potter Palmer’s bride Bertha Honore, opened in 1873, and decorated by Bertha. Evidently it is the oldest running large hotel in Chicago. 

We gathered in the Grand Ballroom on the 4th floor amid peacock carpets and Tiffany chandeliers for the moving Lifetime achievement Lecture by Dan Dailey, the Wilson Lecture by sculptor Albert Paley and the Keynote Lecture by Theaster Gates, Chicago community artist activist. 

Two new Chicago hot glass studios generously hosted the hot shop, flame working and fusing demonstrations and lec/mos: public access Ignite Glass Studio, started by GAS Chicago Co Chairs Trish and Glen Tullman, igniteglass.com, and design studio West Supply (www.westsupply.com), started by Angie West and Catherine Caravette Shepherd in 2000. Chicago Glass Collective (www.chicagoglasscollective.com) was too far away for buses to go to for demonstrations and had a party one night. Demonstrators at these venues included Dante Marioni and Preston Singletary, and Venetian Vittoriao Costantini.

The Spire Parlor on the 6th floor hosted an elegant well supplied live and silent auction. I donated a Mansville Marble plate, commemorating the first glass marbles used in studio glass furnaces in the USA.

The robust student exhibition included students from all over the world; one student proudly told me he had driven his piece from Texas.

The technical display was on the same floor as the speakers, allowing participants to take breaks from the lectures to check out the offerings from wonderful vendors who had traveled from far and wide, including the Glass Furnace from Turkey and Digtry from Maine.  The Gallery hop hopped through downtown Chicago with a variety of venues.

There were many wonderful presentations but I will highlight four of particular interest to me.

The Green Panel: “Combining Tradition with New Technology to Create Eco-Efficient Glass Studios” gathered 50 GAS members at 8 am on Friday! Julie Conway, who started the website BioGlass (www.bioglass.org), and Chris Clark from Pittsburgh Glass led the discussion. I have volunteered with BioGlass for years and was excited to be part of two hours of sharing energy-efficient and sustainable practice in glass including the US, Mexico and Virgin Islands.

The Green Roundtable, led by Julie Conway of BioGlass and Chris Clarke of Pittsburgh Glass. Each person described his or her contributions to energy efficiency. Garrett is showing slides of Christian Thornton's innovative work in Oaxaca.(www.xaquixe.com/glass/about-studio-xaquixe.php


At Risk Youth Forum” panel, organized and moderated by Andrew Page, included our CA community member Jaime Guerrero, and groups from Chicago, Tacoma, Michigan, New Jersey and elsewhere. Please read the article Andrew posted. It was a scintillating, wonderful exchange of ideas and courage. (www.urbanglass.org/glass/detail/at-risk-youth-program-summit-at-the-glass-art-society-conference)

Ted and Melissa Lagreid sponsored a very exciting lecture by architect and visionary James Carpenter,  “Light in the Public Realm,” initiating a new GAS Technology Advancing Glass grant for artists uniting science and art.

GAS Board member Wayne Strattman funded a Strattman Critical Dialogue Lecture Fund, and James Yood, art historian at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, engaged the audience on “W(h)ither Glass? The Next 50 Years”. The Crafts Council posted a good article on his presentation, raising important issues (www.craftcouncil.org/post/future-glass-gas).

The Closing Party was a treat for the art deco, at the Chicago Cultural Center.

Closing Party at the Chicago Cultural Center:
Mary posing in the G.A.R. Hall and Rotunda, which includes a glass-domed ceiling,
designed by the Healey Millet glass company.

So…Bay Area glass enthusiasts, next year it is our turn to host GAS in San Jose for the June 4-7, 2015 44th Annual GAS Conference.

I encourage all of you to join in helping create a marvelous event next year and intrigue and stimulate our international community with our California view.


[Mary White
Former GAS Board member
Co-Organizer GAS Conference Oakland 1995]