Hot stuff: Biennial exhibition celebrates the art of glass

The dozen glass vases and abstract glass pieces by McGlauchlin are part of more than 100 original works of glass on display at Hot Glass.

By Roberta Gedert / The Blade
Tue, 08 Oct 2019 11:00:00 GMT

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In 1962, the late Tom McGlauchlin attended the first glassblowing workshop with glass pioneer Harvey Littleton at the Toledo Museum of Art.

Almost 60 years later, the work by McGlauchlin over his prolific career as a glass artist is still exhibited, appreciated, and sold, including at the Hot Glass Exhibition that opened Monday in the lobby of the Edison Plaza in downtown Toledo.

The dozen glass vases and abstract glass pieces by McGlauchlin are part of more than 100 original works of glass on display at Hot Glass. The show celebrates the genesis of the studio glass movement and the 60th anniversary of its creator, the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo.

“The artists are local, regional, national, and international. We have all types of work in glass, so it’s really a feast for the eyes,” said Diane Phillips, an Arts Commission board member and co-chair of Hot Glass.

The exhibition has taken a few different paths in recent years: In 2016, the Arts Commission partnered with the Toledo Symphony in a Hot Glass / Cool Music event; in 2017 the glass exhibition anchored the Arts Commission’s Momentum art and music festival in its inaugural year; and in 2018, the organization celebrated Libbey Glass’ 200th anniversary with a special event that explored glass vessels.


What: Hot Glass Exhibition 

When: Oct. 7-Nov. 7, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays through Fridays. 

Where: Edison Plaza, 300 Madison Ave.

This year’s format returns to the traditional, biennial event with an exhibit and ticketed public auction Nov. 8, said Marc Folk, Arts Commission director. The event is a fund-raiser for the organization, but participating artists will get the wholesale, gallery rate for their pieces before the balance goes to fund annual arts programming here.

“For us, it’s always about investing in artists,” Folk said. “It’s a way for us to elevate them, lift artists up … and hold onto the legacy of the glass movement.”

Robert Zollweg, who co-chaired the event with Phillips, said his role in the event was that of education that hearkens back to those first studio days.

“The 1962 studio glass movement started things and we want to make sure that continues, that we let people know it started here, but this also gives Toledoans a chance to see glass pieces from all over the country — and some international — who don’t have a chance to go to Seattle, or Chicago, or New York, to see exhibitions like this,” he said. “This is a pretty important exhibition for Toledo to have, this level of art. These are the kinds of pieces you see in a museum.”

Zollweg, who retired at the end of 2018 from Libbey Glass, where he worked in the glass industry for 48 years, called some of the pieces created for Hot Glass “above and beyond most of our comprehension on glassblowing.” A delicate blue bear in the shape of a balloon is suspended in the air in Chris Ahalt’s piece, Late Bloomer. Gold and metallic robots duke it out in two pieces by Ian Zapico. In Lost Connection by Toledo artist Eamon King, a delicate glass figures spews creativity from its hand.

Organizers of the event said the auction includes a wide range of price points this year for the work, from about $55 to $10,000, and the Arts Commission is offering a reduced ticket to young professionals under 40 for the Nov. 8 auction.


Public viewing, wine tasting, and pop-up retail section, 5:30 to 9 p.m., Oct. 17 (during the monthly Art Loop) 

Gala Auction, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., Nov. 8. 

For tickets to the auction or more information: The Arts Commission, 419-254-2787 or

In past years, the event has put about $100,000 into artists pockets and generated between $70,000 and $80,000 for Arts Commission programming, Folk said.

“I think our goal this year is to generate between $25,000 and 50,000. We wanted to lower the price point on some of the art works so we can continue to grow the collector base in the community,” he said.

The arts are an economic stimulator both locally and nationally. In the Toledo metro area, the creative economy generates $831 million and supports 12,065 jobs, according to the Ohio Citizens for the Arts Foundation. The state of Ohio has appropriated $34.5 million for the arts in fiscal year 2020-21.

The Arts Commission, which has a budget of about $1.5 million, was founded in 1959 and operates the city’s 1% for Arts program, which allocates one percent of the city’s capital improvement budget to public art. City Council last week approved the transfer of more than $237,000 to 2019 arts programming and the implementation of the Arts Commission’s Municipal Art Plan.

Funds from the sale of the majority of work by McGlauchlin, who died in 2011, will go to his youth endowment fund through the Toledo Community Foundation, Zollweg said.