Arizona Daily Wildcat
Local glass-blower featured in exhibit now showing at Tucson Museum of Art
"Light on Glass," which recently opened at the Tucson Museum of Art, contains only about 20 sculptural glass pieces, making it one of the smaller exhibits that has been on display at the museum.
Among the artists featured in the exhibit is Tom Philabaum, a local artist and owner of Philabaum Contemporary Art Glass, 711 S. Sixth St. His pieces, like "Metallic Trailed Platter" and "Venerable Vessel," are both crafted using the age-old technique of glass-blowing.
Philabaum began his artistic career at Southern Illinois University, completing his bachelor's degree in art and education. Thirty-one years later, he said that he has decided to devote all his energy to glass-blowing and running his studio.
"I sort of backed into glass because after having children, the easiest way to make a living was blowing glass," he said.
Philabaum's "Venerable Vessel" is a tall, vase-like object containing a wide array of colors created by strategically placed lights in the exhibit. He explained that although some tools have changed and become more modernized over the years, the basic art of glass-blowing has stayed the same.
"I still use the same techniques from Italy and across Europe that have been used the last 1,000 years," he said.
Philabaum added that the studio-glass movement did not actually begin in the United States until about 1965.
After teaching for several years, Philabaum eventually left his home in Illinois to move to Tucson. He received his master of fine arts degree in ceramics at the University of Arizona.
Although Philabaum's pieces appear to be a more abstract form of art, "Light on Glass" does contain several pieces that depict objects seen in everyday life.
Karen LaMonte's piece "Colored Clothesline" is a miniature clothesline holding various pieces of colored-glass "clothing" that were bent and twisted to hang on the line with tiny glass clothespins. The piece is made of recycled glass bottles.
The majority of the pieces featured are free-form in style, containing items such as vases and plates constructed entirely from glass. Almost every piece is situated under a protective glass case in order to prevent damage to the fragile pieces of art.
The exhibit was created in conjunction with Tucson Lifestyle Magazine and is meant to underscore Tucson's importance as a center for contemporary glass artists, the museum's Web site stated.
The glass works of Philabaum and others can be seen in "Light on Glass" at the Tucson Museum of Art, 140 N. Main Ave., through Jan. 7.