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Kimball is shining with holiday glass

Dan Bischoff, Of the Record staff

Ornaments have come a long way since first debuting on evergreen trees in 15th century Germany.

According to Hallmark.com, apples were hung on evergreens to symbolize a Paradise Tree during Christmas plays. "Paradise trees later found their way into homes, where they were adorned with small white wafers, and later, small pastries cut into stars, angels, hearts and flowers," the Web site reads.

Moving away from apples, wafers and pastries, the Kimball Art Center is currently displaying an artistic and modern version of the tree ornament. For the third straight season, the glass ornament display is open to the public. Sixteen artists from Oregon, Washington, California, Idaho, New Mexico, Kansas, Vermont and Utah have created about 300 pieces of unique glass to display and sell. The prices range anywhere from $15-$75.

"The glass ornaments sparkle and the holidays sparkle and it all goes together nicely," said Susan Thomas, public relations director at the Kimball Art Center.

The display is different than the usual exhibitions at the Kimball, mostly because the items have a price tag.

"The Kimball is not about selling art," Thomas said. "The Kimball is about promoting and teaching and offering free exhibits.

However, selling these items, Thomas said, gives Parkites an opportunity to bring art into their holiday season.

"We really want to sell these items and they make great gifts," Thomas said. "It’s fun to have some fine art on the tree and for decorations. This really is a display and a sale."

The display covers a wide assortment of glass pieces that boggles the mind.

"Glass is what I find so fascinating," said Pam Crow-Weisberg, executive director of the Kimball Art "When you look at the glass, people are making things, and it’s hard to comprehend that they are doing it in glass.

"Glass is unusual. If you look at those objects, you ask ‘Wow is that possible?’ It’s kind of exciting for me," Crow-Weisberg said.

Morag Totten, a 10-year Park City resident and glass artist, has been displaying her ornaments at the Kimball for the last three years. Her work may be labeled as a "contemporary use of stained glass," Totten said. She cuts stained glass, fire-polishes it in a kiln and often mixes wires and other metals into her pieces. Her glass creations are original, she says.

"It gets me out of the box," Totten said. "I do something really different."

Before she moved to Park City from Springfield Missouri, Totten never worked with glass. Once she got here and learned the art, she was hookoed. It’s a hobby and a profession that she feels "very fortunate" to have discovered.

"There’s something about glass," Totten said, "It’s a passion. I get to do something creative."

She credits the atmosphere here and specifically the four seasons as inspiration for her work.

"I always had to do something creative," Totten said. "The color that glass offers is my paint, it’s instant gratification. It’s a colorful medium that most can identify with."

Many of her pieces are larger than the 20 ornaments she gave to the Kimball. In her 10 years here, she has developed a successful business and often ships her pieces to other parts of the state and country. Having her work displayed in the Kimball, reminds her of where she started.

"This is a privilege for me to be asked to do this," Totten said. "I get really busy shipping boxes out of state, this reminds me of the supportive local market, it’s nice to be reminded of that."

Totten is not only proud of her own work displayed at the Kimball. She is impressed with the other works showcased.

"All of the glass there is gorgeous," Totten said. "The blown glass, there’s so much color. I will go buy some of it. It’s really well installed; I was impressed with how they put it up. It ties in well with their other exhibits."

The glass ornaments will be on exhibit in the Garage Gallery at the Kimball Art Center through the holidays. The Kimball’s three galleries are always open to the public and admission is free. For more information, call 649-8882.

Photo cutline:

the ice frisbee with crystal created by Jude Filppi of Ramah, New Mexico.

the tear drop is created by Lisa Stover of Victor, Idaho

the ball is created by Tim Lazer of Sacramento, CA


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