Glass is born in fire, when sand is heated, then cools to a hard finish reminiscent, in some ways, of ice. That dichotomy is the inspiration for an event taking place Sept. 14 at Mesa Arts Center.
The Fire and Ice Season Kickoff Preview ushers in the MAC’s fall arts season — and serves as a good excuse to meander outdoors on a Friday night, taking in a variety of free entertainment.
You’ll find live music, food booths, and dramatic performances by fire-wielding circus troupe Flam Chen. Elsewhere on MAC’s seven-acre campus, you’ll see carved ice sculptures, a play zone of glowing hula hoops for kids, and a pumpkin patch filled with glass pumpkins created by local artists.
At the same time, five new exhibitions will be unveiled inside Mesa Contemporary Arts, MAC’s on-site art museum. Descend the stairs (or take the elevator) to the subterranean galleries, and you’ll find three perks to enhance your art-viewing experience: complimentary light refreshments, a cash bar, and some of the very artists whose work appears in the shows, willing and ready to chat about their pieces.
Laurie Nessel, a Tempe artist who directs MAC’s glass program, says the exhibitions and the “Fire and Ice” theme are inspired by an important anniversary in the art world: It’s been 50 years since the beginning of the U.S. Studio Glass Movement.
“That is when glass was taken from the big factories, like Libby, Owens Corning and Anchor Hocking, and done in the studio setting, where a single artist can make a piece of art from start to finish. Before, it was done only in a factory, with different people who held different jobs all working on a piece,” she says.
As a result, Nessel says, artists like the world-famous Dale Chihuly (whose colorful work headlined at Phoenix’s Desert Botanical Garden a few seasons ago) emerged.
You can gain a sense of the skill and creativity the art form requires by catching demonstrations throughout the evening. Artists will do glass blowing, casting, lamp working and neon work live in front of spectators. One uses only wet newspaper between his hand and 2,100-degree glass.
The Fire and Ice soiree coincides with another event going on the same night in downtown Mesa. A free “Pirates’ Block Party” takes place 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. along Main Street, within easy walking distance to and from MAC. The block party will feature pirate-themed contests and activities for kids and adults, as well as art booths and live music.
IF YOU GO
What: Fire and Ice Season Kickoff Preview
When: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14
Where: Mesa Arts Center, 1 E. Main St.
Information: (480) 644-6500 or MesaArtsCenter.com
Four new shows highlighting modern works in glass inspired the MAC kickoff party’s “Fire and Ice” theme. They open inside the museum Sept. 14, along with a photography exhibition that takes a stand against breast cancer.
Decidedly Digital: Tim Tate, an artist known for fusing new media with time-honored glass techniques, incorporates audio and video devices with found objects and glass to create sculptures.
El Melting Pot: Brothers Jamex and Einar de la Torre, known for provocative glass and mixed-media sculptures, give a satirical take on racial diversity in America.
Flow: 10 Years of Glass at Mesa Arts Center: MAC has built a high-caliber glass program over the past 10 years, and the proof is in this show of works by current and former faculty, resident artists and guest artists.
Fire & Sand: Contemporary American Glass: Blown, cast, cut, lampworked, neon, painted, stained and woven glass fills this show, which focuses on the creative diversity and technical innovation found in American art glass.
Ballerina: Photography by Bob Carey: Photographer Bob Carey photographed himself, dressed in a tutu, in a variety of scenes; after his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, the humorous images took on new meaning in the Careys’ fight against the disease.
Contact writer: (480) 898-6818 or firstname.lastname@example.org