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Alchemy and drama take center stage “Night Blow” at the Morean Glass Studio

03 Nov 2019, Posted by Robin McGowan in Events, News, Press Releases

St. Petersburg, FL (November 16, 2019) – It is a dark night in November in an alleyway off of Central Avenue in downtown St. Petersburg. Attendees move in single file through the open door of a chain link cage spanning the edge of an industrial warehouse building. The flicker of a 2,000-degree-flame burns in the opening of a furnace offering up the outline of pipes and tools, the reflection of smooth glass surfaces, the side of a face, a bulky-gloved-hand swinging something dark accented with a glowing ember in the air. The murmur of the crowd rises. Stilettos and sneakers flash as people feel their way to the safety of a space on the metal bench of stadium seating.

It is “Night Blow” at the Morean Glass Studio, where the alchemy and drama of glass making is the start of a show that seems ancient and future apocalyptic at the same time. Scheduled from 7 to 10 pm on Saturday, November 16. Admission is $45 for the general public and $35 per person for Morean Arts Center members. Tickets may be purchased at the Morean Arts Center website or by calling 727-822-7872.

Stepping to the center of the floor in front of the furnace, the ringmaster, glass artisan Matt Piepenbrock flaps the lapels of his formal suitcoat. There is a spark, a sudden arch of light, and the figures of other glass artists and gaffers are seen in silhouette.

On cue from Piepenbrock the team moves into a synchronized frenzy of activity, the DJ picks up the beat of the movement, the audience gasps. The Night Blow is unlike any other art experience. The energy of a live performance illuminated only by the glow of molten glass and the synchronized flash of a choreographed special effect.

Glass making dates back to at least 3,600 years ago. It requires artistry, chemistry and physical grace in equal measure. Archaeologists have recovered glass objects that were used in domestic, industrial and funerary contexts. The contemporary working artists of the Morean use the process to craft everything from functional lamp shades and corporate trophies to delicate flowers and translucent sculptures. The Morean Glass Studio feature the largest glass furnace glory hole on the East Coast, allowing for the creation of large-scale glass work and cementing St. Petersburg’s cornerstone position on Florida’s “Glass Coast.”

There are 12 working glass artist providing instruction and hundreds of students have had the opportunity to get hands-on making glass pumpkins or flowers or mugs in workshops, or refining their skills in specialized classes scheduled over 4-week sessions. The Morean Glass Center is also home to Operation: Art of Valor, a community-based arts program that serves the military and veteran population through structured, hands-on learning that focuses on improving cognition, social interaction, physical dexterity, teamwork and confidence. A retail shop features art created by the local glass artists community.

The Morean Glass Studio located at 714 1st Ave. North, St. Petersburg, FL is open from 10 am to 5 pm Monday thru Saturday, and 12 to 5 pm on Sundays.

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