Philabaum Glass Gallery fetes its anniversary

Southern Arizona’s only all-glass fine art gallery, Philabaum Glass Gallery, celebrated its 40th anniversary by honoring five legendary Arizona glass artists during a special reception on Oct. 15 at its Downtown Tucson gallery. The special exhibit runs through Jan. 21. (Philabaum Glass Gallery/Submitted)

Southern Arizona’s only all-glass fine art gallery, Philabaum Glass Gallery, celebrated its 40th anniversary by honoring five legendary Arizona glass artists during a recent special reception.

The 40th anniversary exhibition, which runs through Jan. 21, features vibrant contemporary new and classic work by renowned glass artists Tom Philabaum, Dan Enwright, Michael Joplin, Carole Perry and Louis Via.

“Our 40th anniversary coincides with the United Nations’ International Year of Glass, and so it was fitting that we curate a special show to honor five outstanding glass artists who have helped to elevate the glass movement,” said Alison Harvey, co-owner of Philabaum Glass Gallery.

Harvey worked as the gallery’s manager for more than a decade before she and her husband, Dylan, purchased the gallery when Tom Philabaum retired in 2020. The 2,000-square-foot gallery is full of color, with glass vases, paperweights, platters, stemware, contemporary sculpture, artful jewelry and other creative gifts. More than 60 diverse glass artists from all over the country are represented by Philabaum Glass Gallery, which is considered one of Tucson’s “hidden gems,” even after 40 years.

The five legendary Arizona glass artists featured in the 40th anniversary show include:

Tom Philabaum: Widely revered by collectors and his peers, Philabaum started Tucson’s first glass blowing studio in Tucson in 1975 after receiving his MA in glass from the University Wisconsin, Madison, in 1973. He studied under Harvey Littleton, who is considered the father of the American Studio Glass Art Movement. Founder of the gallery, as well as the Sonoran Glass School, Philabaum has been a strong arts advocate in Tucson for over four decades. He is responsible for many series of work throughout his career, including blown, fused, cast and painted glass. While Philabaum retired from glass blowing in 2018 and from the gallery business in 2020, he continues to create a series of fused and painted glass in the gallery’s current location.

Dan Enwright: A Tucson resident, Enwright was an established stained-glass artist before he found his passion for hot glass. He worked alongside Tom Philabaum for more than 20 years. A skilled glass blower, his current mixed media wall pieces incorporate his love for both glass and metal. Dynamic wall art composed of metal treasures and blown glass vases dance with light and movement.

Michael Joplin: Joplin studied printmaking before learning how to blow glass in 1972. He opened his first studio in 1978 in Prescott and eventually moved to Tucson. He has studied with Dale Chihuly, Mark Peiser, Klaus Moje, Fritz Dreisbach, Jack Schmidt and Ann Warff. In addition, he was very active with the Sonoran Glass School, serving as a board member from inception in 2001 until 2017. After owning several glass studios in Tucson, he joined his wife, Margaret, in making unique glass works using the lost wax method to create public art as well as lighting and other decorative and functional items.

Carole Perry: Best known for her stunning glass tapestries, Perry works out of her desert studio in Cave Creek. She “ran after the executive brass ring for 20 years before admitting it could never hold the same sparkle as the art glass.” A strong arts advocate, Perry set aside a successful career in computers to pursue her passion for glass full time. She creates her glass tapestries by fusing fine glass cane before manually contorting the hot fusion into her finished shape. Each one-of-a-kind piece is composed of over 9,000 individual threads of glass. The resultant pieces are mysterious and reminiscent of old-fashioned ribbon candy or actual fabric.

Louis Via: A master glass artist, Via worked alongside Tom Philabaum since the 1970s. His skill and ideas go beyond the Philabaum work, and over the years, he created his own styles, often incorporating blown, cast, fused and painted glass. His current series of sophisticated sculptures features pulled canes of glass that have been hand-cut and expertly arranged and fused in a kiln. Via resides in Tucson and continues to create unique glass works.

Philabaum Glass Gallery

711 S. Sixth Avenue, Tucson

Five Points neighborhood

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday, or by appointment