Art Glass by Tom Philabaum
Philabaum Contemporary Art Glass Studio
1947, Toledo, OH
"My involvement as an artist began in the late 1950s and early 1960s at the Toledo Museum of Art School. Coincidentally, around the same time, Harvey Littleton, the acknowledged Father of the Studio Glass Movement, began his first experiments in glass working using a small furnace built in the parking lot of the Toledo Museum School. My interest then was Winslow Homer paintings, drawing from life, and playing my cornet.
During my college years, I immersed myself in drawing and painting until I discovered clay. Working in ceramics was like coming home. It fed my need for physical and spiritual involvement in the aesthetic process.
Following graduation, I took a job teaching near St. Louis, and began graduate ceramics studies at night. The hand-built slab forms I made then really called for "something else" to complete them. My instructor suggested blown glass forms as a possible solution. Furthermore, it was his idea that I move to Madison, Wisconsin, to study glass working with Harvey Littleton, and continue clay with Don Reitz. Taking heed, I began the quest to synthesize and marry clay and glass. While at Wisconsin I worked equally hard in both materials, but had less than successful results in combining the two.
By that time 1971, Harvey was in the process of removing himself from day-to-day studio teaching and concentrating more on our philosophical and aesthetical growth through group seminars. The person who took over hot glass operations was Eriks Rudans. Eriks was a tremendous influence on my approach to studio work.
After receiving a Master of Arts degree, I moved to Chicago to teach again and pay down my college loans. As much as I loved teaching and the rapport I had with kids, I knew something was missing. I didn't belong there.
A trip to the southwest in 1974 convinced me of my life's next direction. Shortly after arriving in Tucson, I took over the lease on a pottery school and started a clay and glass cooperative with six other people. We all struggled at juggling day jobs with studio work at night and on weekends, for years.
By 1977, my glass started to be exhibited in some galleries around the country. However, most of my glass finances were covered by selling wine goblets, tumblers and paperweights at art fairs, and working as a photographer. Continuing to be involved in clay, I returned to school and received an MFA in ceramics from the University of Arizona (1983).
Around that time, I had perfected a technique of design and form in glass that came to be called the "Reptilian Bag" series. These pieces really got things happening. I was invited to Iceland to show and give lectures and workshops and later with my new partner, Bob Carlson, to Germany to produce work for a solo exhibition (1985) and for some Museum collections. Shortly thereafter, we dissolved our partnership and since that time I have operated Philabaum Contemporary Art Glass in a remodeled and expanded Tastee-Freeze building in Downtown Tucson."
Tom and his team of assistants create each piece individually using techniques that date back thousands of years. His line of contemporary art glass has won him many awards and accolades, both national and international.
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June 5, 2015.
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