Making the Ordinary Extraordinary

Kathleen Mulcahy and her husband Ron Desmett shared a vision in the early 1990s—to create an innovative glass art center that would transform our city. They had seen how the power of art drove economic revitalization in decaying neighborhoods and they wanted that for Pittsburgh. They envisioned a place where master artists and novices would work shoulder-to-shoulder. With the support of so many organizations and people like you, Pittsburgh Glass Center opened its doors to the public in 2001 and today educates over 20,000 people annually.

Ron is the perfect example of what happens when an artist is introduced to glass.
He was amazed, inspired, and transformed. 

Not many artists have that opportunity.

He was a passionate painter and ceramicist. When he was introduced to glass, it changed his art and his life. He reinvented the process of making glass, producing black lidded trunk vessels that contrasted with the transparent and pristine qualities of most glass work. He left behind an extraordinary and beautiful legacy, utterly unique in the world of glass. His work is in the Smithsonian, Corning Museum, Tacoma Museum of Glass and Pittsburgh's own Carnegie Museum of Art! He called what he did, "Making the ordinary extraordinary."  

Artists don’t often have the time and resources to experiment and try new techniques. This is what your contribution means to artists: 

  • Time to explore, experiment, and try new things
  • Exposure to glass, for many a new and exciting artistic medium
  • Expertise and assistance from talented glass artists 
  • State of the art facilities to create world class art
  • An environment that is encouraging, nurturing, and inspiring.

Thanks to the generosity of the donors listed below, we've raised over $100,000 to establish an endowed award fund that will honor Ron's spirit and legacy in perpetuity through the annual distribution of the Ron Desmett Memorial Award for Imagination with Glass. The Ron Desmett Artist Fund was created to foster continued growth of artists and provide access to glass for artists who would otherwise not have that opportunity. The annual award from this fund will cultivate, nurture and support diverse, passionate and creative glass artists, sustaining them and honoring Ron's legacy far into the future. 

The Ron Desmett Memorial Award for Imagination with Glass 

This award will benefit artists who think outside of the box, practice curiosity, and take risks to create unique, imaginative works in glass or incorporating glass. In order to foster these characteristics in the next generations of glass artists, a minimum of $5,000 will be awarded annually to an artist(s) in one of four categories: Youth, Emerging Artists, the Idea Furnace, or Critical Writing.

  1. Youth: a student of high school age whose work embodies Ron’s spirit and shows rare talent. An awardee in this category will receive a year of free classes and private instruction at PGC.
  2. Emerging Artists: an artist just beginning their professional life as an artist working with glass, whose work embodies Ron’s spirit in an experimental nature and who shows great promise. This cash award will enable the artist to set aside time to spend in residency and create new works in the studios at PGC.
  3. Idea Furnace: an artist whose medium of choice may not be glass, but over their creative lifetime has embodied the experiential and experimental qualities that Ron held dear.. This award will support the artists time in the studio to explore glass alone or in concert with other media.
  4. Critical Writing: Writers are an important key to understanding and educating our region and beyond about glass art. This cash award will encourage critical thinking that best exemplifies Ron’s vision for how the “me” of an artist is translated into the work. 

The 2019 application will be posted in January. The deadline to apply for the 2019 award is May 31, 2019. 


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Heartfelt thanks to the following individuals and institutions who have generously supported the Ron Desmett Artist Fund:

Francine Abraham

Deb Acklin

Alfstad Team


Barbara Anderson

Nina Anuario

Jean Appleby

Herb & Donna Babcock

Carole Bailey & Andrew Stewart

John & Karen Baillie

Judy Barie & Frank Cservak

JoAnn Bates

Patricia Bellan-Gillen

Sam & Debbie Berkovitz

Carol Brown

Alice Buchdahl

The Jack Buncher Foundation

William & Carolyn Byham

Carol Camiener

John Carson & Mary-Lou Arscott

Anne Chen

Vicky Clark

William & Cynthia Cooley

Lu & Syl Damianos

Randi Dauler

Judy Davenport

Sandra Deitch

Barbara DeRiso

Don Desmett & Angela Graham

John & Patricia Desmett

Kim & John Dingess

Thomas Dingo & Coleen McKay Dingo

Phil & Jill Dinuoscio

Cathy & Dan Droz

James Duesing & Ed Motznik

Margaret Dunn

Constance & James Egan

Fetzer Institute

Lynn & Steve Forman

The Foster Charitable Trust

Doug & Mary Louise Fowkes

Susanne Frantz

Edward & Julie Gelman

Susan Taylor Glasgow

Susan Golomb

Marjorie Greenberger

Lee Gross

Bill & Ellen Hamilton

Ed Harrell

The Heinz Endowments

Julie Henderson

Gwen & Jeff Hilger

Dennis Huber & Faye Sampson

Beth Hylen

Diana Jannetta

Barrie Kaufman

Janet Kelman

Karey Kluesner & Pietro Bajona

Carol Kumata

Rick & Ann Landesberg

Susan Oberg Lane

Terry & Michael Laskowski

Larry Leahy

Carrie Leana

Joel LeGall

Michelle Leonette & James Stitt

Lorraine Levy

Glen & Pamela Limbruner

Dutch MacDonald & Becky Mingo

Randy Macherosky

Anne Madarasz

Joe Mannino & Jo Recht

Kevin Marpoe

Jeanne & Dale McNutt

John McSorley, MD

Marilyn & Allan Meltzer

Tom Meyer

Sharon Trocki Miller

Karen & Eugene Monti

Lorelli Moser & John Wojtyna

Kathleen Mulcahy

Susan Murray & Don Harvey

Mary Navarro

Jim Nelson

Ellen Neuberg

Dick & Betty Nimtz

Joan & Peter Nofsinger

Paul & Alison Oehler

The Opportunity Fund

Mark Perrott & Joan Britten

Wende Persons

David Pfeffer

Lois Placke

Michael & Linda Plummer

Carole Popchock

Mark & Dawn Pozuc

Frank & Jean Robinson

Caryn Rubinoff & Craig Dunham

Maria Rubio

Paul Rudoy

Damian Ruyechan

Karl & Jennifer Salatka

The Sampson Foundation

Janet Sarbaugh & Bill McAllister

Joy Sato

Brian & Susan Sesack

Nellie Lou Slagle

Susanne Slavick

Cheryl Smith

Alex Speyer III

Ann & Peter Steenkiste

Mitch Swain

Shirley Tucker

Millard Underwood

Mike & Roxanne Vatalaro

Elizabeth Wainwright & Russ Kemerer

Lou & Amy Weiss

Laura Wenneker

Jim West

Susanne Wilkinson

Orville Winsand

Molly Youngling

Martha Zazzarino

Susan Zelicoff

Florence Zeve

Scott Zimmerman

Updated as of 11/14/18. If your name is missing or listed incorrectly, please contact Rachel Niederberger at


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