Some Like It Hot: Local Union 25 Give Glass Studio A Clear Future
It’s clear as glass that Local Union 25 has made a white-hot impact on one of the most unique art spots in the Quad-Cities, Hot Glass.
The gallery at 104 Western Davenport, in the Davenport Printing Company building, will be celebrating its renovation and expansion with a grand re-opening featuring renowned glass artists John Miller and Alex Stisser from 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, and a look around its amazing studio gives area art fans a mirror into the craftsmanship of the union workers that made this renewal a reality.
“We’re just stunned and so grateful to all the folks from Local Union 25 that helped out, from Bill (Allison) to Phil (Davison) to Adam Isaacson from Crawford Company, they all did an incredible job,” said Joel Ryser, executive director of Hot Glass. “As an artist it was cool to see them work their own kind of artwork in putting this together and making our vision come to life.”
Ryser made the move to expand in November 2017, when the additional 4000 square feet adjacent to his previous 1200 became available. “We figured this was a perfect opportunity to expand and to make it into more of a studio and an art space that could accommodate more people and allow us to do more things,” Ryser said.
His first call was to Matt Bowman, a retired plumber from Local Union 25. Matt got him in touch with his union brothers, Allison and Davison, and quickly after, Ryser says, they got to work. “It was off and running before I knew it, and they had it done and exactly the way I wanted it,” Ryser said. “I couldn’t believe it, from the first time they were there, they just knocked so much stuff out. I was just so thankful.”
Ryser was especially impressed with the speed, craftsmanship, professionalism, politeness and ability to accommodate his requests that the Local Union 25 crews offered.
“We added a third work area, a new reheating furnace much bigger than the other two, and even when it came to custom jobs that they maybe had never done before, they were able to do it well and quickly with no problem,” Ryser said. “I showed them a picture of this fixture from Corning I had seen a while before, thinking it was a total shot in the dark, but they were like, ‘yeah, we can do that, no problem,’ and sure enough, they did it!”
Davison is pleased with the satisfaction of a happy customer and the final look of the new studio.
“It was pretty cool to see it come to life and to see the work in progress,” Davison said. “It’s a great older building, it was just needing some work. It’s great to see everything come together and for it to get some new life.”
The crew worked on everything from drains to water and gas piping to special requests, and relished being part of the project, Davison said.
“It’s always satisfying to see the transformation, when you take something older and do a lot of great work on it to help update it, it’s awesome,” Davison said. “There were a lot of really good workers who put in a lot of time and hard work on it, and it’s an amazing thing to see everyone pull together to make it happen.”
“We’re just so lucky,” Ryser said. “I just can’t say enough about all the people who have helped us, especially the plumbers and pipefitters and everyone from Local Union 25.”
For more information on Local Union 25, see https://lu25.org/.
For more information on Hot Glass, see www.hotglassart.org.
SIDEBAR: BIOGRAPHIES ON THE FEATURED ARTISTS AT THE GRAND OPENING:
John Miller began working in glass in 1987 in the undergraduate program at Southern Connecticut State University, in New Haven. A decade later he earned an MFA in sculpture at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. From 1993 to the present, John has been a staff member at Pilchuck Glass School in many capacities, as a technician, coordinator, gaffer, and instructor. He has been a featured artist at the Museum of Glass, Tacoma Washington and the Corning Museum of Glass, Corning New York. Currently, John is an assistant professor and Head of the glass department at Illinois State University in Bloomington-Normal. John exhibits internationally and frequently tours the country lecturing and demonstrating with hot glass.
Alex Stisser was born and raised on a family farm in central Illinois. There he developed an appreciation for making objects and working with his hands. An interest in ceramics and printmaking lured Stisser into art school where he soon discovered glassblowing. Stisser went on to earn his BFA in glass at Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois. After graduating, he worked for several glass artists’ studios throughout New England and eventually moved to the Pacific Northwest. At Benjamin Moore Incorporated in Seattle, Stisser worked alongside many skilled artists such as Benjamin Moore, Dante Marioni, and Dan Dailey.