Approximately 1,000 members of the Seattle-based Glass Art Society, including artists, educators, students and scholars from all over world, will descend on St. Petersburg next week for the 48th annual GAS conference.
The March 28-30 gathering is a big deal for the city, as GAS is an enormous and prestigious organization that, to put it simply, goes where the art is. And thanks to an influx of artists, galleries and museums dedicated to this most technical and delicate art form, St. Petersburg is considered the “glass city” to watch.
“We do this annually for our membership, so all these glass artists can come together – it’s almost like a glass reunion,” says GAS Communications Manager Tess McShane. The theme for 2019 is Charting a Course: Vision in Glass.
Last year’s event collected the international glass community in Murano, Italy. “Murano was chosen because it represents our history,” McShane says, “and St. Pete was chosen this year partially because it represents the future of glass. Because it’s a burgeoning glass city, and it represents new techniques and other things in the glass art world.”
Along with a handful of corresponding events that are free and open to the public, conference attendees will be treated to three days’ worth of demonstrations of glass blowing and the myriad other steps in the creative process.
Participants include the leading lights in the glass art movement in St. Pete: Duncan McClellan, the Imagine Museum, Morean Arts Glass Studio, Zen Glass and others. Here’s the complete schedule.
All of the demonstrations are open to the public, space permitting, with the purchase of a Local Day Pass ($150) at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront Hotel, the conference’s main location.
“I wouldn’t say the public wants to go to the panels and the lectures, which are more education-based, more technique, and really are of more interest to the artists, educators and students there,” McShane points out. “But there are over 65 demonstrations, and that’s something that is interesting to the public.”
Open to the public
MIT Glass Band. At 6 p.m. Friday, March 29 at the Morean Arts Center. An offshoot of the glass lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the band, let by lab director Peter Houk, performs entirely on instruments made of glass. Cost: $14.95
The following events are free.
Gallery Hop. 6-8:30 p.m. Friday, March 29. It’s a structured, albeit self-guided (no shuttles), tour of St. Pete’s glass-centric hot spots. Participants:
Morean Arts Center, 719 Central Ave.
Chihuly Collection; 720 Central Ave.
Craftsman House Gallery, 2955 Central Ave.
Imagine Museum, 1901 Central Ave.
Duncan McClellan Galleries, 2342 Emerson Ave. S
Habatat Galleries Pop-Up, 2828 Central Ave.
Florida Craft Art, 501 Central Ave.
ARTicles Art Gallery, 1445 Central Ave.
Red Cloud Indian Arts Gallery, 214 Beach Dr. NE
My Favorite Art Place at the Sundial, 167 2nd Ave. N
TD Glass Studio, 2580 28th Ave N
Goblet Grab. 12 to 1 p.m. Friday, March 29, Hilton Bayfront Hotel. A fast-paced fundraiser – artists contribute a goblet and/or drinking glass. Says McShane: “The goblets are lined up on tables and there is a barrier tape between the people and the goblets. People line up earlier trying to be closest to the goblet they want to purchase. It goes in rounds, a bell goes off – the barrier is broken – and it’s a mad rush as people literally grab the goblet they want … the first person to grab it, gets it.”
Silent Auction. 2-3 p.m. Saturday March 30, Hilton Bayfront Hotel. The GAS Silent Auction is one of the highlights of the annual conference. Donations and purchases help to support GAS operations and keep costs of the registration and student fees affordable.
Also available, for a fee: A day trip to Sarasota, visiting (among other locations) the Ringling Museum of Art and Ringling College of Art and Design (details about that here).
In an interview with the Catalyst last month, Imagine Museum director Jane Buckman cited the significance of the Glass Art Society choosing St. Petersburg as a location city.
“They go to major cities with glass hubs,” she told us. “And I think the artists, wherever they’re from, will be looking at St. Pete, looking at the art community here, and some will say ‘You know what? Seattle or wherever is too expensive; I could be here and be in this growing scene.’
“I mean, in order to make this cultural arena work, you have to have artists that are also working here. And have something being made here that’s being recognized.”
For information, details and to get your questions answered, visit www.glassart.org.