Raise a glass!

Toast the arts while celebrating the New Year!

Plenty of folks will be raising glasses in celebration of a new year, but I’m more interested in glass with an artistic twist — so I went in search of Valley museums and galleries featuring diverse glass exhibits.

Turns out the Tempe Center for the Arts houses not only several performance venues, but also an art gallery that features changing exhibititions like “2010 TCA Biennial: GLASS,” which runs through April 9.

This exhibition, which includes the work of 21 jury-selected artists from around Arizona, celebrates the Center’s third anniversary.

Oil Top by Joshua Dopp on exhibit at Tempe Center for the Arts

If you didn’t know that glass was the modern gift of choice for third anniversaries, you might want to brush up on your marriage-related trivia. (Leather is the traditional choice.)

When you hit the TCA during gallery hours you’ll enjoy free admission and all sorts of glass artistry — from blown glass vessels and window panes to architectural installations and self-standing sculptures.

It’s a far cry from the glass I experience on a daily basis — whether humble tea cup or simple costume jewelry.

You’ll have to make haste if you’ve yet to experience the many glass wonders on exhibit at the Heard Museum in downtown Phoenix.

Clan House by Preston Singletary on exhibit at the Heard Museum in Phoenix

Their “Preston Singletary: Echos, Fire, and Shadows” exhibit — which features “unique interpretations of Tlingit myths and legends in contemporary glass work” — ends its run on Feb 6.

Singletary is a Seattle-based artist whose work blends “European glass-blowing tradition and Northwest Native design.” Tlingit Indians, the original people of the Pacific Northwest Coast, currently live in parts of Alaska and Canada.

Melissa Post, who has served as curator for Tacoma’s Museum of Glass, is scheduled to discuss Singletary’s works, which “meld his Tlingit ancestry with the dynamism of the Studio Glass Movement,” at the Heard Museum at 2pm on Sun, Jan 23.

Carolyn Kastner, associate curator at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Sante Fe, will discuss Singletary’s work in the context of American art on Sun, Jan 30, at the Heard.

Chandelier by studio glass artist David Bennett

For an earlier taste of glass art, head to the Heard Museum at 2pm on Sun, Jan 16, for a presentation titled “Combining Hot Metal and Hot Glass.” Studio glass artist David Bennett will discuss the “development of glass and metal art over 2,000 years, from ancient Italy to the United States” — as well as his own work.

I suspect some of you will stumble on intriguing martini glasses and such during cocktail-ridden celebrations of the New Year. But I’m content to simply explore the infinite world of glass as fine art.

— Lynn

Photo: “Clan House” – Russell Johnson

Note: The Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix has a “Tower for the People!” campaign to fund the permanent installation of a work by glass artist Dale Chihuly. Click here to learn more.

Coming up: Celebrating MLK Day

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