Chaos Glass Studio Explores Shades Of Gray In Open House

Meagan Ingerson

By Meagan IngersonThe Daily Northwestern

This Friday, the usually vibrant works of Chaos Glass Studio, 1601 Payne St., will be starker in color.

The studio’s upcoming open house, called “No Grey Areas,” will feature pieces created using only two colors: black and white. The studio holds open houses the first Friday of every month. Joe Doherty, who co-owns the studio with Kelly McGowan, said he was inspired by the need to escape from the monotony of the “gray area” of everyday life.

“All of us reside in the gray area of the world,” Doherty said. “(This show is about) dealing with our own trifles and just being, like, ‘Let’s get into reality, let’s get into the black and white of it.'”

Since its opening in August 2006, the studio hasn’t put out enough creative works, Doherty said. This Friday’s event represents the studio’s effort to focus on large-scale artistic pieces.

“This is the real kickoff to make a new body of work and to make a new series,” he said. “This is pushing us to get to the next level, which would be showing in galleries. It’s been a real inspiration to all of us around here to create this new body of work.”

The open house also will feature a meet and greet with artists and a glassblowing demonstration. The March 2 show will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the studio.

Artists at the studio usually produce five or six larger, “non-functional” pieces in a given workday, Doherty said. “Functional” items such as bowls and cups are faster to produce, with the studio putting out 150 cups in eight hours.

“We do make a lot of common things – cups, bowls, a vase for a dining room table – just so people can have a really nice piece that doesn’t cost them $1,000,” he said. “We’d rather have someone have a really nice piece of art than break the bank.”

McCormick graduate student Louise Giam took the studio’s beginning class last fall. She said the studio offered her a chance to pursue a longtime interest in blown glass.

“I did my undergrad (degree) at MIT and they had glassblowing classes offered to students every quarter, but there was a lottery and the demand was so high that I never won the lottery,” Giam said. “I wanted to learn glassblowing, and this was an opportunity that depended on just paying and not some lottery.”

Doherty, who has been working with glass for eight years, said the technical challenge of glassblowing attracted him to the medium.

“In blown glass there’s a huge dedication to technical issues, and I really enjoy the hard work and pure dedication that goes into making each and every individual piece,” he said. “You don’t have to be this tremendous artist to create beautiful works of glass. You can go into the engineering side of it. You’re constructing something.”

Doherty and McGowan are members of the Young Professionals of Evanston. Their studio hosted the group’s monthly event two weeks ago. It was organized by Susan Allen, the manager of programs and sales for the Chamber of Commerce.

Allen said the studio’s atmosphere and owners influenced her decision.

“I had visited there for a different occasion and it was such an interesting place,” she said. “It’s almost like a museum, with ambiance.”

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