Archeological evidence suggest that the first true glass was made in north coastal Syria, Mesopotamia or Egypt during the mid-third millennium BCE; likely created by accident as a by-product of metal working or faience, a pre-glass form of vitreous glazing used by Egyptians. Sea and beach glass, however, has been around as long as we have had glass. In ancient times sea glass fragments were said to be "Mermaid Tears". It was once widely believed that every time a sailor drowned at sea, Mermaids would cry and their tears formed the sea glass washed up on the shore. For millennia glass was reserved for objects of function. Through the Dark and Middle Ages glass gained prominence in structures. It was not until the 12th century that glass was elevated to a place of artistry. In fact that artistry was so treasured that the greatest of glass makers were imprisoned to the island of Murano off the coast of Venice, Italy. On that island trade secrets were perfected and would slowly bleed out into Europe and Asia over the next 200 years. The science of the art was so well protected by guild masters that a standard glass blowers apprenticeship lasted a minimum of fifteen years. The five artists featured in the upcoming exhibit "SiO2" have a cumulative 60+ years of experience in their respective media. "SiO2" or silica dioxide, the base component for all forms of glass, will feature the fused art glass duo Rick Bewley and Tracey Bewley, owners of Art Fusion Studio, the backlit stained glass artistry of John Byrne and the Italian style blown glass of Bella Forte Studio headed by the father/son duo Chris McGahan and Micah McGahan.
Almost 20 years ago Chris and Linda McGahan opened 'Italian Jim's Pizzeria', a pizzeria that would evolve to become the Louvre of pizza establishments in Oklahoma. What started as a simple interest in glass blowing became a very special bond between Chris and his son Micah. After receiving lessons for Chris's birthday, the two found an obsession which would slowly fill 'Jim's' to the point of opulence; with vessels, vases and art glass from floor to ceiling. Over the last ten years, the McGahans have developed quite a reputation for their glass, with large scale commissions and private collections including those of former Lt. Governor Jari Askins, and former Vice President Dick Cheney. The artists' studio 'Bella Forte' can be translated directly from Italian as 'bella' meaning beautiful, and 'forte' meaning loud or strong. Among the artists' most common vessels are their Redento Raffinatos; blown glass vessels ranging in height from two to three feet. 'Redento Raffinato' translates to mean 'redeemed elegance', which is a most accurate description of how they evolve from bits of color into vibrantly super-saturated color compositions of the elongated teardrop form finished in expressive Jackson Pollock-like strokes of multi-layered perfection.
John Byrne is a Tulsa native and outsider artist who returned home several years ago from many years of travel and learning. Though the artist's last formal art class was in the sixth grade, he has enjoyed a constant art and culture observer's experience; soaking up the arts from international locals including Europe and Central America. His career as a business consultant kept him traveling, providing opportunities to visit art galleries and museums; and stoking the embers of his latent talents. John's lack of formal art education has offered him freedom from traditional views on the uses of his favorite media... light and glass. Byrne is driven to use traditional media in new contexts, allowing the expected to communicate in unexpected ways. His love of gardening led to his first stained glass creation; a series of outdoor sculptures which initially provided color and form to his landscape year round. While his garden slept in the winter, his Garden Spirits glimmered through the slumber. When summer foliage and blooms burst forth, they were accompanied by his Feral Glass creations, running wild on legs of brass. His most current body of work, "Shadowglass", was initially conceived to move some of that magic indoors. Layers of stained glass lattices cause the view to shift as you move in front each piece. Light, space and color are interlaced into forms that seem fluid and dynamic; drawing the observer, visually and emotionally, deeper into each composition.
Rick and Tracey Bewley are both fused glass and mixed media artists, but they came into it from different directions. Rick's career started as a trim carpenter then transitioned to ownership of an acrylic fabrication company specializing in custom aquariums among other things. Rick brought his acrylic expertise to MTM Recognition where he is currently head of their custom manufacturing facility and research and development. This has all given him an extensive background in working with all kinds of materials and equipment and the ability to make anything he puts his mind to. Tracey developed her artistic skills through a BFA from OCU; focusing in drawing media, but experimenting with multiple media while in study. She started working at MTM in the mid '90s and is now currently head of their custom design department where she designs high-end trophies for events such as NASCAR Nationals. After marrying in 2001 the couple realized a mutual passion for glass and started learning about the techniques for fusing the medium. It also became obvious to them that their different backgrounds made an ideal mix for creating the glass and mixed media artwork they fell in love with. The creative duo has tackled commission projects for organizations which include Sonic Headquarters, Local (a restaurant in Norman, OK), Samis Education Center (a part of the Children's Hospital complex), Allied Arts offices, Wilson and Deer Creek Schools, Toby Kieth's Kids Korrall and numerous private projects.
Where: Paseo Originals Art Gallery
Address: 2920 Paseo