An eclectic, contemporary art gallery in the heart of Bozeman, Montana
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Artist Bios: Glass
Art Glass Array by Lisa Becker
While at the studio, I usually hop on a stool with the name "Ralph" sliced into the wood. That's my dad. Back in the 70's, Art Glass Array was "Ralph's Auto Supply" run by my grandfather Ralph Sr. and then my dad, Ralph Jr. Ralph's Auto Supply was around for more than 20 years.
I opened Art Glass Array on the second floor of 501 N Kings Highway when I was 28. I've learned a lot over the years but I knew when I started, I wanted the studio to be an education center for kiln-formed glass unlike anything this area has seen before. I wanted a space where artists and hobbyist could work in fun and knowledgeable environment and learn skills to take their artwork beyond the basics.
Molly Barnes creates ephemeral hand blown glass bowls and vases that showcase her talent in the medium of blown glass. Her pieces are reminiscent of the Arts and Crafts Movement, yet modern and quietly bold. Although abstract in design, the patterns in each piece are beautifully evocative of nature’s splendor. Whether used to display a bouquet of flowers or to simply be admired in the light, Molly’s pieces fit their setting – whether it is a Craftsman bungalow home, a modern loft or a corporate setting. Molly is a native of Portland, Oregon and started blowing glass in 1995. Molly learned to blow glass in a small, open to the public studio in Troutdale, Oregon. She also worked at Bullseye Glass and Uroboros Glass in Portland for several years. After assisting many local glass blowers, including John and Heather Fields, Molly built her own studio in 1999.
LaBrecque Glassworks is the small, family-run studio of glass artist Ben LaBrecque. For almost ten years, Ben has practiced a technique of glass blowing called flameworking. This process utilizes a high temperature torch to heat the glass until it reaches a molten state. Once hot enough, glass can be shaped and blown into nearly any form imaginable! Ben lives and works in beautiful Teton Valley, Idaho with his muse and manager, Erin, and their spirited and spunky young daughter, Harriet. Ben is dedicated to making high quality, unique, affordable, and functional glass pieces inspired by the natural world.
Ben received formal training in Fine Art at Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont. Ben has studied glass at Pratt Fine Arts Center in Seattle, Washington with renowned glass artist, educator, and author, Bandu Dunham. Ben also attended the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, NY under the tutorship of Italian glass artists Emilio Santini, a world-renowned Italian goblet maker and instructor, and Simone Crestani, a glassblowing master and contemporary artist. When not making glass, Ben can be found backcountry skiing, mountain biking, and chasing after his tiny daughter.
It is not a simple task to branch out from an established medium and create something new. Late night hours, artist wages, and ramen noodles join the blood, sweat, and tears of growing a new art concept from a classic medium. But all of the hard work and long hours can pay off when combined with a vision for telling stories in enameled wall art. Houston Llew started his venture inside a hot garage in Atlanta in the summer of 2008- at the depths of the worst recession since the Great Depression.
A combined vision for art and an eternal optimism turned a dreary economic situation into an opportunity as Spiritiles deliver a beautifully handmade art product to a market looking for affordable pieces to show their fine art collectors. Today, Houston no longer makes Spiritiles out of a garage -“Llewtopia,” as he calls it, is an expanding art studio near downtown Atlanta employing ten full-time artists and artisans as of October 2013.
Each Spiritile is carefully handmade using a series of intricate stencil techniques. From the beginning, Houston’s vision for his enameled artworks drew from the beauty of simplicity. He sought after an imagistic theme for his work rather than pursuing the abstract often seen in other enameled wall art. The image is just the beginning - each piece is paired with a quote sgraffitoed around the sides to create an inspiring story through words and images in glass.
About Tsuga Studios Nick Kekic and his wife, Tamasin, built Tsuga Studios in 2000 on land that had been in Tamasin’s family for generations. Tsuga Canadensis is the scientific name for Eastern Hemlock tree, of which they harvested many on their site, milled and used for the lumber in their new building. Tamasin, who has studied Wildlife Biology, suggested the name for this new place to live and work. Years later it is that, as well as a space for exploring and developing new techniques and design ideas while working to market and promote their work.
On Making Glass Glass is a fascinating, compelling and challenging material with which to work. As a material for expression, its only limitations are the limitations that we create for ourselves. I believe there’s a way to do it in glass, one needs only to find the way. Glass working techniques have evolved for thousands of years. I’ve benefited from those early traditions, borrowing many of those old world techniques to help me to realize my own processes. Glassblowing for me has become a process of taking this super hot liquid and freezing it to room temperature in a controlled but sometimes precarious balancing act of heat, gravity, timing and human intervention in these processes. I find glass most beautiful when worked in such a way that somehow captures and eventually expresses this fluidity as a material while maximizing its unique relationship with color and light. I design my work to be decorative with clean, strong lines in form and color while most of my work is also functional as I’ve often felt most satisfied making things that are both beautiful and useful.
I’m often asked how one starts out on this path. I was lucky enough to be born into a glass-making family. My grandfather worked for forty-two years as an industrial glassworker at General Electric in Cleveland, Ohio. His experience and technical knowledge helped my father, Thomas Kekic, help build the first glass studio and program for R.I.T. in Rochester, NY. Growing up during the early studio art glass movement in America, I was surrounded by hand-made objects and people who worked hard at developing their craft, using raw, natural materials and great effort to bring their creative ideas to life. After my father passed away, I had all but forgotten his glassmaking. So it was only later in my life, at nineteen, that I fully realized my legacy while attending a beginning glassblowing class at Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina, where my father had been some twenty years before. Penland for me came to be a place for discovering my own creative resources. It was there that I developed a new relationship with glass, one where I began to rediscover the value of finely crafted hand-made things, not only as useful and beautiful objects but valuable for the satisfaction one gets in making them. These objects are not only important as expressions of who we are but there’s great importance in experiencing the creative process that brings them to life. Spending time making things that are either beautiful or useful, encourages us to reach into some of what makes us most human. There is greatness in the life of ideas and creativity these processes can generate. It is in this tradition that I believe making, using and appreciating these glass objects brings a richness to our lives that is both unique and precious.