Newsmakers: Conference showcases Toledo’s rich glass historyWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
In June, Toledo hosted artists from around the world during the Glass Art Society’s annual conference.
This year’s event was especially meaningful as it commemorated the 50th anniversary of the studio glass movement, which traces its roots to Toledo, said Jutta-Annette Page, president of the Glass Art Society (GAS) and curator of glass and decorative arts at the Toledo Museum of Art (TMA).
“As an organizer, we always hope for the best, but this certainly surpassed our expectations,” Page said. “I heard from participants that it was the best conference ever. We heard nothing but positive responses.”
The conference included demonstrations, workshops, a fashion show, a gallery hop featuring more than 40 pop-up galleries and more. “Color Ignited: Glass 1962–2012,” an exhibition focusing on the evolution of the use of color in glass, debuted at TMA during the conference. The show recorded more than 80,000 visitors through Sept. 9, Page said.
About 1,300 people purchased full passes for the four-day conference. More bought day passes or came to one of the events open to the public, Page said.
“It really showed Toledo is the right size community to put on a conference like this,” Page said. “I’ve been to many conferences like this in larger cities and it’s a different event there because it’s one of many, many things happening. Toledo is big enough to sustain and support something like this, but small enough to really get the whole community behind it which very much helped to make it the great success that it was.”
Jack Schmidt of Schmidt Messenger Studios in South Toledo served as a co-chair of the conference along with Margy Trumbull of Toledo and Herb Babcock of the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. Toledo also hosted the conference in 1975 and 1993.
“I have heard from friends and Glass Art Society members all over the county complimenting Toledo for creating such a fantastic and memorable event,” Schmidt said. “It’s probably one of the best conferences this organization has ever had and I’ve been a part of it since its inception in 1971. Our committee of 30-plus members worked hard and received incredible community support. The economic impact on our city was considerable. It generated a lot of money for the local businesses and exposed a lot of people to the contemporary glass scene.”
Sherri Hudson, convention services manager with Destination Toledo, said GAS reported the conference made an estimated $1.5 million impact on Toledo’s economy, including 1,500 hotel rooms.
Toledo artist Edith Franklin, one of the members of the 1962 glass workshops at TMA, participated in the conference, but died Aug. 31 of pancreatic cancer.
“She was just such a supporter of the arts,” Page said. “She was so excited when we made the proposal to the Glass Art Society to bring the conference here and she was so excited to participate in it. It’s very sad, but I’m so thrilled she was able to be around and be so much a part of it.”