This month a group of Pittsburgh Glass Center supporters and glass art appreciators, led by Executive Director Heather McElwee and Operations Director Chris Clarke, traveled to Italy for a special glass art collectors’ tour of Venice and Murano. Here is former PGC board member Merriann Grant’s account of her experience.
What an amazing trip to the cradle of glassmaking! My husband [PGC board member Mac Grant] and I, and certainly the rest of the group, have so much gratitude to Heather McElwee for building relationships with these world-renowned glass masters, bringing them to Pittsburgh and introducing us to their work, and then coordinating the opportunity for us to see these same artists in their home studios in beautiful Venice.
We were treated to a visit with the revered Lino Tagliapietra and then Davide Salvadore, on to flameworking artists Lucio Bubacco and Mauro Vianello, to beautiful factories (Ars Cenedese and Simone Cenedese) where incredible commercial pieces are made by highly trained glassmakers. We saw everything from 11th generation glass makers to incredible women exciting the art world with their fresh creations and exhibits (Mel Douglas, Nancy Callan, and the sisters at Massimo Micheluzzi to name drop). Seeing this work and these artists in their beautiful home space on Murano and Venice was truly an experience of a lifetime.
We didn’t just see glassmakers, we had cocktails with curators, toured the Guggenheim and other museums, watched Bevilacqua weave velvet as they have for hundreds of years, stopped in Burano for a look at bespoke linens, popped into Lunardelli design studio, and we certainly didn’t starve! We had lunches with artists, chose to try some Michelin star restaurants, and sampled lots of gelato. The island hopping by vaporetto, frequent crossing of bridges over canals, getting lost in the Calli, and chasing pigeons in the Piazza, just added to the magical immersive experience. The accommodations were beautiful, our suitcases returned home heavy, and many added to their glass collections.
One thing became crystal clear—the glass artists we met love PGC, support PGC, are connected to PGC, and have been celebrated at PGC. It was incredible to hear Pittsburgh Glass Center recognized and lauded halfway around the world and many Venetians were “blown away” by the opportunity to chat with Heather and Chris. It was a warm and exciting trip, one Mac and I will talk about for a long time and wouldn’t hesitate to do again. —Merriann Grant