KEEPING IT WEIRD
When most people out of state think about international conferences held in Louisville, they picture the Farm Machinery Show. If they're thinking hard, they might conjure an image of Something With Horses. What they don't picture is the international Glass Art Society conference.
"We've been working on bringing the GAS conference here for a few years. We thought we'd have it in 2012," said Brook White, owner of Flame Run Glass Studio. "It was supposed to be in London this year, but there was an issue. About 18 months ago, the Glass Art Society asked if we were ready now."
London to Louisville may seem like one heck of a leap, but Louisville has an unusually strong and vibrant glass art scene with large professional studios such as Glassworks and Flame run at opposite ends of downtown and the glass art program at the University of Louisville.
"We all play together well," said White. "This conference wouldn't be here without all of us working together, plus bringing in some amazing community leaders who wanted to help put Louisville on the map when it comes to our art. People had heard of Louisville before, but once they come, once they see everything we have to offer, they'll remember us as a glass city."
KEEPING IT LOCAL
Bringing over 1000 artists to Louisville from across the globe is amazing enough, but the powers that be behind the GAS conference want to make sure this isn't just for outsiders. Therefore, they've teamed up with the second annual Visual Arts Festival for 30 Days of Glass: 4 Weeks of Fire.
They're kicking it all off with a bonus trolley hop. Yes - two downtown trolley hops two weekends in a row - except the one on July 11 is all about glass. Downtown art galleries will host glass-centric exhibits while the trolleys themselves will be full of artists from all over the world who are here to see the city at its best. If an attractive Italian sits next to you on the trolley, ask how the hot glass demonstration went.
The Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, one of your trolley hop stops, is hosting three glass related exhibits featuring the work of Mark Peiser, Tom Philabaum, and a glass jewelry exhibit. Up the street at the Frazier Museum, you can see an exhibit on American Glass Bottles from 1815 through the civil war. If you're looking for something more playful, check out the Slugger Museum's exhibit of gigantic glass versions of ballpark food or the Science Center's "Fractured Physics" exhibit demonstrating how glass effects everything from delicate fiberoptic cables to super strong airplane windshields. Plus, unlike the regular galleries, they have plenty of things you can touch.
When the trolley hop winds down, Glassworks is hosting a "Black Out Bash" which includes access to live music on the rooftop, hot glass demonstrations in their studio, and bourbon tastings. If you want to meet some international artists, this is the place to do it. Admission is $10, but they'll knock it down to $7 if you're wearing black.
KEEPING IT GOING
There's an amazing array of glass art you can see around town during the next month. There are over 40 exhibits including unexpected places such as Felice Vineyards "An Irishman and an Indian Walk Into A Bar" (which wins for best exhibit name), to Yew Dell Gardens to the Downtown New Albany "Glass by the Block" group exhibit. Darn near every gallery in town is synching up exhibits as part of the GAS conference and Louisville Visual Arts Festival. The Speed Museum, the Science Center, the Muhammad Ali Center, Kaviar Forge (yes, the metalworking studio is tying it in with the glassworkers), and Actor's Theater.
That's right, in addition to the traditional visual arts, the local theater scene is also part of the 30 Days of Glass: 4 Weeks of Fire. You can see the Glass Armonica Ballet in New Albany's Riverfront Amphitheater and performances of Tennessee Williams, "The Glass Menagerie" by ShoeString Productions
The GAS conference itself may only last June 10-12, but they're leaving the community with an entire month of glass inspired art.