Hot Glass Roadshow heats up SOFA Chicago 2012

Museum gaffer George Kennard walking down Navy Pier on his way to SOFA to light up the Roadshow stage.

The windy city of Chicago was swept into a frenzy of creative synergy as the 19th Annual Exposition of Sculpture Objects & Functional Art (SOFA) Fair once again graced historic Navy Pier.

SOFA Chicago 2012.

In a matter of days, an empty warehouse pavilion was transformed into a warren of world-renowned galleries displaying an impressive and inspirational display of contemporary sculpture, design and fine art.  A surprising amount of the work shown was from both emerging and well-known glass artists.

An artist meticulously installing his work.

At the far end of the exhibit space, the CMOG Hot Glass Roadshow trailer was driven in and unfolded Transformer-style to be set up for glassblowing fun. The opening night gala was teeming with excitement because it was the public’s first chance to see the crème de le crème of modern art and design.  The next day saw the beginning of a dynamite three days of hot glass demonstrations by local and international glass artists who all had work showing in their respective gallery’s exhibits at the Fair.

Shelly Muzylowski-Allen adding an ear bit to the mustang head with the help of Davide Salvadore, Lisa Piaskowy and George Kennard.

It seemed to be the year of collaborations on our stage, beginning with our very first demo. Shelley Muzylowski-Allen and Davide Salvadore had just recently worked together in Murano, Italy for two weeks to create the sculpted animal and instrument fusions that were their stunning additions to Habatat Gallery’s booth. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to assist these artists, who I have long considered my glass heroes.

Shelley and Davide's seahorse, shown in Habatat Gallery's exhibit space.

Shelley’s affinity for sculpting realistic animals that may as well be breathing, plus Davide’s beautiful murrine that is patterned and surface cut to a textured exquisiteness, is a combination that effortlessly captures and holds the viewer.

Needless to say, this was a tough demo to follow but we had yet another collaboration that I found quite enchanting. Canadian artist Laura Donefer, well known for her eclectic and exuberant style and joy, was once again working with Jeff Mack, a phenomenal glass artist.

Laura Donefer and Jeff Mack putting the finishing touches on the ewer handle.

This pair has just recently worked together in an Instructor Residency at The Studio, and they are without a doubt quite a dynamic duo. For our Hot Glass Roadshow demo, Jeff blew a beautiful transparent purple classic ewer vessel with a separately made foot. Then Laura jumped in and slathered the surface of the ewer with fresh hot glass that she stamped or “bizzeled” with a variety of texture imparting tools. The end result was just the right mix of bizarre and traditional, since the transformed surface of this classic form had created something completely new.

George Kennard and Ryan Doolittle, the CMOG Roadshow crew, after the last scoop of hot glass has been ladled from the furnace at the triumphant end of an amazing weekend of demos.

There were too many amazing artists demonstrating on our stage to cover in one blog so please stay tuned for part two of the Roadshow at SOFA Chicago.
Until next time,

Ryan

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