March 6 - June 7, 2015


Explore the art of the alphabet at Pittsburgh Glass Center (PGC).  “ABC@PGC,” a colorful exhibition featuring glass sculptures combined with an interactive illuminated word building piece that visitors can touch, rearrange and wear like apparel, opens on March 6, 2015. With a primary color palette reminiscent of children’s play equipment, the exhibit will engage visitors of all ages in an exploration of art from March 6 to June 7, 2015.

Working together Seattle artists Jen Elek and Jeremy Bert will create a multi-media exhibition that challenges assumptions about how art can be experienced in a gallery setting. By actively encouraging visitors to not only touch, but wear some of the artworks in the gallery, the artists are suggesting that art should be actively encountered rather than passively observed.

This vibrant exhibition is traveling to Pittsburgh Glass Center from its original location at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, WA. 

The exhibition will be accompanied by a number of free literacy-related activities at Pittsburgh Glass Center in collaboration with Assemble, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP), the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children (PAEYC), Reading is Fundamental (RIF) and TechShop. Free activities include:

Pop-up Library @ PGC (Mar. 6 – June 7) Read books provided by Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.

Hot Jam (Fridays April 3, May 1 and June 5 from 6 – 9pm) Open house with live glassblowing demonstrations.

Morning Storytime (Wednesdays, March 11 – June 3 from 10 – 11am) Bring children three years old and younger for stories provided by PAEYC.

Evening Storytime (Wednesdays March 25, April 22 and May 27 from 6:30 – 7pm) Join us for a half an hour of stories for the whole family provided by CLP.

Scrabble Night (April 8 and May 13 from 6 – 9pm) Join the Pittsburgh Scrabble Club for a fun night of tournament-style Scrabble. Everyone is welcome.


This exhibition was originally called, “Look! See? The Colors and Letters of Jen Elek and Jeremy Bert.” Elek and Bert want this exhibition to engage visitors in a two-part conversation. First, they ask viewers, “Are you looking?” Second, they ask, “If you are looking, are you seeing? Really seeing!? What are you looking at?”

Elek explains, “This is a moment of contemplation in which we consider this simple question applicable to most things in life. Are we looking? And are we truly seeing what we are looking at? Looking is awareness and seeing is understanding. Looking is vision and seeing is perception.”

Bert refurbished the sign letters in the exhibition. He says, “Illuminated channel signs are omnipresent in our lives being the industry standard in advertising on stores and malls throughout the U.S. We have transformed letters that would otherwise be sign industry refuse into a perpetually evolving artwork that includes the viewer as a participant in the piece. Viewers wear modified channel letters that light up powered by a cordless battery system, allowing the person to create their own illuminated message anywhere.”

Elek contributes many colorful, blown glass assemblages and wall panels including many mirrored objects.


Jen Elek received her BFA from Alfred University in metal and hot glass sculpture in 1994, after training as a welder in Allentown, PA. She was a student of Michael Scheiner, Dante Marioni, and Ann Wahlstrom at Pilchuck Glass School, and studied with Lino Tagliapietra at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. In addition to doing her own work, she has assisted glass artists such as Dale Chihuly, Kiki Smith, Preston Singletary, Lino Tagliapietra, and others.  A vibrant contemporary glass artist, Elek exhibits alongside artists of other mediums, breaking some of the barriers that have kept glass in the realm of craft and offering it as a worthy medium of contemporary art. 

Elek’s work has an abstract, minimal quality with a bright Pop-art sense of color and design. Spheres and ovoids, cones and cylinders play against each other in various formations, at times reminiscent of human figures or natural elements, at times like hyperbolic chemical compounds. Elek’s work is always engaging, and as in the case of "Look! See?," sometimes interactive—thus pushing another boundary of glass art as a delicate and untouchable medium. Like those who came before her, Elek is as much a teacher of glass as she is a student, having taught at Pilchuck, the SCHACK Arts Center, the AUSGlass Conference at the Sydney College of Arts, the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, the Bezalel Art Academy in Jerusalem, the Alberta College of Art and Design, the Toyama Glass Art Institute in Japan, and others.

Jeremy Bert is an artist who grew up in Montana. Early on, Jeremy developed an interest in ceramics. He earned a BFA from Alfred University NY State School of Art and Design in1994. Bert studied clay with Val Cushing, neon with Fred Tschida, and worked as a kiln fabricator with Freddie Fredrickson. In 1995 Jeremy moved to Seattle, WA where he has worked for the last 18 years as a licensed sign electrician, certified welder, crane operator and light projects designer. Bert has in recent years taught three neon workshops at Pilchuck Glass School focusing on making neon tubes. Jeremy has exhibited his work at MONA, The Museum of Neon Art in Los Angeles, CA; Jenkins Johnson Gallery in San Francisco, CA & New York NY; Traver Gallery in Seattle, WA and The Museum of Glass in Tacoma, WA.

Jeremy’s mixed media sculpture represents a strong commitment to re-usage. By re-appropriating the refuse of the sign industry, Bert reclaims commercial waste and transforms it into something enriching for the community.

Jeremy and his wife, Jen Elek, maintain a studio at their home in south Seattle where they work with neon, metal, and ceramics.

See more photos from the exhibition.

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