Tuesday October 26, 2021 | by UrbanGlass Staff

Open House New York Weekend by Lizbeth Bolanos Maldonado

New York City is known as a city with a surplus of landmarks and activities to take part in, but what exactly happens when those places begin to feel a bit monotonous? Whether you find yourself in New York City as a visitor or as a native New Yorker, Open House New York, otherwise known as OHNY, presents the public with the opportunity to explore our beloved city’s hidden gems. As a nonprofit organization, OHNY allows the public to be able to experience and become engaged in and informed about New York CIty’s artistic culture. This past weekend, OHNY and UrbanGlass teamed up for OHNY Weekend and welcomed groups of individuals and families into an immersive tour experience at our studio.

Although each staff member took a different approach to presenting the studio tour, all studio tours began in the flameworking shop, where visitors were informed on the variety of techniques that take place as artists utilized the torches available to them. They were able to watch glass artists at work, shaping their glass pieces to their liking, and were introduced to the science and art behind neon signs. The cold shop followed, along with an explanation on how glass work is shaped into fine edges and rounded parts to reach their clean, final look. Our visitors also learned about the equipment, such as our sanding belts and diamond coated discs, that are also utilized as a part of the process. The kiln shop and mold shop is where our visitors viewed a few examples of student work that had been done at the UrbanGlass studio. This was also where they learned that other techniques can be incorporated into the process of glass making.

Our final stops of the studio tour were usually our flat shop and the hot shop, where our guests once again shared the opportunity to watch glass artists at work. They were able to watch as artists bravely handled the steel rods, and dipped them into furnaces that reach extreme temperatures of 2,150°F in order to mold their glass. It can be easy to dismiss glass as not having any other function and principle outside of windows, tables, vases, and cups. Therefore, based on our visitors’ comments and expressions, which nowadays can be observed through brows and eyes, it can be said that this studio tour introduced them to a new perspective on what glass means to them and its multiple functions in the artistic world, as well as everyday life.

The tour did not end at the studio, it continued through the exhibitions that are currently on view at the Agnes Varis Art Center, which houses UrbanGlass’ public access gallery and storefront. The glass artwork on display in the Robert Lehman and Window Galleries includes work from Carly Mandel’s Premium and H Schenck’s New Introductions. Visitors were walked through each artist's motive for utilizing specific mediums, and how their work with glass can be interpreted in relation to the themes that they were exploring within their artwork. The tour ended at the UrbanGlass storefront, UrbanGlass|ware, which in itself serves as its own exhibition because of the ever-changing glass art that is set up to be on display for all to observe and purchase if they wish to. The staff at UrbanGlass were delighted to have been able to share this in-person experience with OHNY as the city continues to reopen, and hope to continue to share our artistic glass purpose with the public.

Learn more about OHNY here: