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The colorful Austral sculptures were inspired by kayak paddles used by boatmen of the Austral Islands in French Polynesia. The Dancing Hands Gallery and Silver Queen Fine Art are bringing Blade to Park City for two nights of artist receptions on Thursday, March 29, and Friday, March 30. (Image courtesy of Danielle Blade)
For three years, Dancing Hands Gallery and the Silver Queen Fine Art Gallery have joined forces to bring their shared client, glass artist Danielle Blade, to Park City for their two-night artist receptions.

The Dancing Hands Gallery, 591 Main St., handles Blade's vessel work, while the Silver Queen Fine Art Gallery, 577 Main St., exhibits her sculptures.

The galleries will continue the tradition when they welcome Blade back to Park City for free artist receptions that will be held on Friday, March 29, and Saturday, March 30, from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m.

Blade, who creates the works with her business partner Stephen Gartner in a studio in Maine, said she is looking forward to mingling with and meeting the galleries' patrons.

"I wish more people would get on board with this sort of thing, because it's a platform for us to be able to really showcase a lot of work in one area," Blade said during a phone call from her home. "Both the galleries benefit from the cooperation as well, and (Dancing Hands owner) Chris Meyer and (Silver Queen owner) Timm Hilty often send customers to each others' shops, and I think that works beautifully for both establishments."

Blade and Gartner have created a collection of new works in the past few months that will be showcased this year.

"We have greatly expanded our Sargasso line, which includes vessels that were kind of born in a beautiful noonday flight over the Rocky Mountains as I was going home from Park City a few years ago," Blade said. "The colors I saw on the mountains were just stunning and spellbinding."

The new vessels include a series of black creations that Blade is really excited about.

"The black pieces were done at the beginning of this year," she said. "I had to adjust some of the colors to stand out against the black background, and it turned out very beautiful."

Blade is also excited about a new series of Austral Sculptures, which are influenced by paddles used by boatmen in the Austral Islands in French Polynesia.

"The actual paddles themselves are very beautiful art forms that were used in a lot of those cultures, and the are exquisite and finely carved," she said. "Most were made of wood, while others were mixed media that incorporated leather and ropes."

The glass sculptures Blade and Gartner created are reminiscent of these paddles.

"Last year, when I came to Park City, in conferring with Timm at Silver Queen, I asked what he might like for this year's exhibition," Blade said. "He told me to surprise him. So, we designed a series of new Austral sculptures."

The Australs that will be on display at the Silver Queen won the 2013 Niche Awards, a competition that honors excellency in American and Canadian Fine Craft.

"I'm excited to show those," Blade said.

Blade became interested in blown glass art when she was in her teens.

"I was a dreadful student and I was very competitive and didn't like to be told what to do, so that made me hopeless in school," she said with a laugh. "So, as you can imagine, I was getting yelled at by people, mostly my parents.

"But the first time I set foot in a glass studio, was the first time something came naturally to me," she said. "It actually transformed my life, because when I did glass art, all of a sudden, I got nothing but praise from everybody."

Blade likes the physical and mental aspects of blowing glass.

"It's a very addictive medium," she said.

When preparing to create new works, Blade and Gartner start with sketches and concepts.

"However, I have always felt that the process of creating these works kind of has a mind of its own," Blade said. "While we start with a concept and sketch, a lot of times we end up a million miles away from that initial idea.

"This is especially true when you are using colors you're not familiar with," she said. "There are times when you may run into areas where the glass may not perform as you expected or it will perform in a way you love.

"With us, creating is always a stepped process," she said. "You put one foot in front of another."

Blade has experienced disappointment in a work, only to end up liking it after a few days of letting it sit in her house. 

"Then there are some things you may like when it's done, but then not like it as time goes on," she said.

Regardless, Blade does have a hard time switching back and forth between vessels and sculptures.

"I'm lucky to have a talented team that works with me and Stephen," she said. "We have two amazing assistants who help with our art, and that makes it exciting and challenging at the same time."

Silver Queen Fine Art, 577 Main St., and Dancing Hands Gallery, 591 Main St., will present two nights of artist receptions for glass artist Danielle Blade of Gartner and Blade, on Friday, March 29, and Saturday, March 30, from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.silverqueengallery.com or www.dancinghandsgallery.com.