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Mountain Home Magazine

The Creative Class Shines in GlassFest

May 01, 2019 12:17PM

The weather may have some bearing on whether you agree with the notion that GlassFest is the unofficial beginning of summer in the Southern Tier, but, rain or shine, warm or cool, May 23-26 is the weekend to celebrate all things glass, and more, in downtown Corning. This year, the lineup of regional artists who will be on Market Street throughout the weekend include:

Gwen Quigley and Tony Moretti, collectively known as the Crow’s Nest Artists, live with their daughter Leahbella in the hills above Hammondsport on an off-grid, self-built homestead where they share their land with sheep, a pony, a mini-mule, cats, a dog, guinea hens, and chickens. Since they met in 1997, Gwen and Tony have created numerous sculptural works and taught various art programs for students of all ages. They transfer their love of nature and their rural existence into their work, drawing inspiration, as well as materials, from nature. They forge and fabricate, creating metal sculptures and architectural elements such as custom gates, stair railings, and awnings, allowing the metal to come to life and reflect the natural world. Tony and Gwen have been featured artists for the Corning based Garden of Fire Project, are on the faculty of 171 Cedar Arts Center, are guest teachers at the Rockwell Museum, as well as local youth centers, schools, and libraries. Their educational work receives support from the Arts Council of the Southern Finger Lakes. They have done numerous local public and private commissions, including a sculpture for the Corning Children Center, which will be featured in this year’s GlassFest. They are working on a sculpture to commemorate Bully Hill Winery and its founder, Walter Taylor, for its fiftieth anniversary in 2020.

Scott Griffin, from upstate New York, has been working with glass since 1995. He says he finds glass to be a material of infinite possibilities, and so he uses it to create both beautiful sculptural objects as well as wonderful wearable designs. He is drawn to the material for both the technical challenges that it presents along with the endless possibilities that can be achieved with working in glass.

Scott’s current series of wearable glass uses both hot- and cold-worked glass. The hot sculpted forms feature beautiful transparent colors that are manipulated with fire using the flameworking process. The forms are then carved in such a way as to capture and distort light as it shines through the work. The visual phenomenon created is inspired by the art deco cut glass of the 1930s.

Amanda Warren, ceramic technician and instructor, Kirk Allen, instructor, and special guest artist Alan Bennett will join forces for a raku extravaganza during GlassFest. Raku, based on Japanese technique, is a type of ring for pottery that calls for quick, very high heating and then rapid cooling. During these sessions, students will learn the process and then participate in the exciting firings for the eager crowds in Centerway Square on Saturday and Sunday of GlassFest weekend. In addition, students will have the opportunity to attend a firing at Alan Bennett’s studio prior to GlassFest to see and experience firsthand what raku has to offer. The whole opportunity will culminate with students working in shifts to glaze, fire, and finish their pieces with the guidance of instructors, demonstrating for the public all of the techniques and intensity that raku entails. Contact 171 Cedar Arts at 171cedararts.org or (607) 936-4647 about participation requirements.

Alan Bennett recalls that when he was five he caught a bluegill. He thought it was so beautiful that he kept it in his pocket, where his mother found it several days later when she did the laundry. Alan received an MFA in ceramics from Ohio State University and a BFA in drawing and painting from Arizona State University. He worked as a designer and technical consultant for El Palomar Ceramics in Tlaquepaque, Jalisco, Mexico, and together with Rosemary, his wife, started their business together in Bath, New York, in 1990 as full time clay artists. In addition to leading workshops around the U.S., Alan is a professor at Mansfield University. Experiences in or around the water, and growing up with Jacques Cousteau television specials, strongly influence his and Rosemary’s work. The process starts with a series of sketches using stoneware clay or porcelain to make the basic forms. These forms are manipulated, hollowed out, and added to. The teeth and eyes are made out of porcelain. The pieces are bisque red. Glazing techniques include fish glaze, raku, and crystal glazes, and are applied by dipping, spraying, and by brush. The work is about form, expression, color, texture, and movement. See their work at West End Gallery.

Amanda Warren started teaching at 171 Cedar Arts in 2013 and became the full- time ceramic technician in 2014. She is a graduate of Alfred University with a BFA in ceramics and art education. She earned her M.S. in art education from Syracuse University in 2012. Amanda is certified in New York as a K-12 visual arts teacher. While she works mainly in ceramics, she has practiced in glass blowing, printmaking, and drawing. Originally from Schenectady, Amanda now lives in Hornell with her husband, Matt, and their kitties Hazel and Willow. Amanda is happiest when in the studio and classroom making art with her students and passing on her love for all things art. She likes going to the movies, being outside enjoying nature, or out and about on an adventure. Her favorite color is periwinkle.

Kirk Allen has been a ceramic artist for twenty-five years. He has a bachelor’s degree in art, theater, and recreation, with a focus on ceramic and print making, from Northwestern College, in Orange City, Iowa. He was a ceramics instructor at Orange Street Pottery in Wilmington, North Carolina, and is currently teaching at 171 Cedar Arts Center. He currently works in a small pottery studio at home, with a focus on wheel thrown functional wear. He enjoys helping out with his wife’s basket making, brewing beer with friends, cooking, and woodworking projects.

The focus of Kirk’s work is to make beauty that supports the joy found in the everyday. For him, pottery is a personal journey of self-exploration and problem solving. In clay, he says, we can find where we come from and who we are. The potter can dig clay from the ground, form it into a vessel, fire it with discarded brush, then add fresh vegetables from the garden, and provide a meal to enjoy with friends.