There is everyday run-of-the-mill glass that we all have in our shelves.
And then there is glass "art" — that mysterious realm where glass transforms from the functional into another artistic medium all its own.
Wichitans have been exposed to an unusually wide variety of art glass. Examples of Chihuly, Steuben and Tiffany — all heavyweight masters in the field of glass art — can be found at the Wichita Art Museum.
Continuing the tradition of this complex medium is Rollin Karg of Karg Art Glass in Kechi. Driving on 61st Street North, it is hard to miss the glittering showroom that houses the glass studio and store that Karg and his wife, Patti, began in Wichita more than 20 years ago.
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Tonight Karg Art Glass will host an exhibition reception of the Classic Glass 2009 art show that will feature 12 glass artists from across the country as well as from Kansas.
"Classic Glass refers to the style of these pieces," said Sherry Waters of Karg Art Glass. "They are timeless pieces that are not part of a fad and will never go out of style."
Waters said she is excited to have Corki Weeks, a glass artist from Golden, Colo., as part of the show. Weeks is nationally known for her intricately crafted kaleidoscopes, but more recently she has extended her pieces to include jewelry. Her unique jewelry is made up of textural glass beads and polished glass forms that she has fired herself. Examples of both types of her art will be on view and for sale during the exhibition.
Many of the artists, such as Vernon Brejcha and Joe Fernandez, are locals, but some out-of-state artists, such as Weeks, also will attend tonight's reception. Weeks will be making customized jewelry pieces on site.
"There will also be glass-blowing demonstrations going on so visitors will be able to visit with the artists and actually see the glass being blown," says Waters.
"The medium of glass is so fluid. It is a very forgiving medium," Waters said. "But artists at the master level have complete control over the material."
Karg Art Glass has approximately 12 glass artists working in the studio at different times. Rollin Karg is himself a nationally recognized and award-winning artist who creates new processes in the glass-blowing tradition. Karg began his career as an industrial engineer and a woodworker, but after taking a glass-blowing class at Emporia State, fell in love with the medium and never looked back.
Waters says all the technical equipment used in the glass-making process in the studio was made by Karg.
"The artwork that is being created today will be the antiques and classics in the future," says Waters. "Like other media, the art of glass continues to evolve all of the time."
If you go
karg art glass classic glass 2009
What: An exhibition of 12 national and local glass artists
Where: 111 N. Oliver, Kechi
When: Public reception 6 to 9 p.m. today, with music by Trevor Stewart
How much: Admission is free.
For more information, call Karg Art Glass at 316-744-2442.