Celebration to honor life, legacy of pioneering glass artistWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | email@example.com
Friends, family and admirers of glass artist Tom McGlauchlin will gather for a celebration of his life May 1 at the Toledo Museum of Art Glass Pavilion.
The 76-year-old pioneer of the studio glass movement died April 4 of pancreatic cancer at his Toledo home.
The celebration was planned so that McGlauchlin would be in attendance himself, but he died before it could happen, said Pat, his wife of 49 years.
The event will start at 2 p.m. Several people will speak and local jazz musicians will perform songs chosen by McGlauchlin.
“People are coming from far and near to celebrate Tom’s life and legacy,” said Kay Elliott of The Art Tatum Jazz Heritage Foundation. “His contribution to art glass is enormous. He was there when it all started. Jazz was his muse. He talked about how he always listened to music when he creates. Tom was wonderful. He had a great sense of humor and was exceedingly brilliant. He was a huge part of the fiber of the Toledo community; he went to everything, participated in everything. He was just wonderful.”
Greg Tye of local jazz group Hepcat Revival will perform “I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead, You Rascal You” by Louis Armstrong at McGlauchlin’s request. The song has become traditional at New Orleans funeral parades.
“You probably have to have known Tom to understand the choice, but it speaks to his personality,” Tye said. “It’s comical and in this case a little bittersweet. It’s a great little song and I hope to do it justice.”
Tye, a senior TV producer at WGTE, hopes to put together a segment about the artist at some point.
“I didn’t know him socially, but I interviewed him several times and was struck by the breadth of his artistry,” Tye said. “Usually artists don’t deviate much, but Tom had all sorts of variation and just the breadth and scope of his career is pretty amazing to look at.”
Born near Beloit, Wis., the youngest of nine children, McGlauchlin started as an engineering major at the University of Wisconsin-Madison before switching to art.
He was at the 1962 workshop at the Toledo Museum of Art where his mentor Harvey Littleton first demonstrated how glass could be blown and sculpted as art. The event is now considered to be the birth of the studio glass movement.
After teaching at his alma mater and then in Iowa, where he established the second college-level glass blowing classes in the nation, the McGlauchlins moved to Toledo where Tom taught glass art for a joint program of the Toledo Museum of Art and University of Toledo. He left the position in the mid-1980s to work as a full-time artist.
McGlauchlin’s work can be found in private collections, including Elton John’s, and in museum collections worldwide, including the Toledo Museum of Art, the Corning (N.Y.) Museum of Glass, the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., Museum Kunst Palast in Dusseldorf, Germany, and the National Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto, Japan.
Locally, McGlauchlin’s works include “Clouds of Joy” at Four SeaGate, “A Mountain for Toledo” at the SeaGate Center, “University Woman” at the University of Toledo’s Carlson Library and “A Free Verse in Color” at Bowling Green State University.
McGlauchlin was looking forward to events next summer marking the 50th anniversary of the historic glass art workshops in Toledo, as well as attending his celebration of life, Tye said.
“He was supposed to be part of this celebration,” Tye said. “We would rather have had this event while he was alive. I think he would have really enjoyed it. We were trying to get it done, but you can’t control life. It’s sad he couldn’t be here to enjoy it, but I think he will be there in spirit.”