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January 14, 2014

The Laughing Dog Gallery is delighted to kick off our winter show season with world-class glass artist, Leon Applebaum. Join us for a reception Thursday evening, January 16, when Leon will be here to discuss his work and showcase his latest creations. Don’t miss the rare opportunity to meet this nationally recognized glassblower whose work celebrates the dynamic and compelling possibilities of contemporary glass sculpture.

The actual process of blowing glass for the past 40 years has guided Leon Applebaum’s progression as a contemporary glass artist. His traditional and non-traditional techniques capture and accentuate the fluid energy of hot glass. Applebaum’s work has a weighty quality, yet he uses brilliant transparent colors and reflective elements to create a visual lightness. By combining massive glass and reflective interiors that light passes through, his work explores the visual dimensions and the very essence of glass as an artistic material.

Q: Do the glass techniques you first encountered while studying and working in Sweden still influence the way you work with and create your glass art today?
I have used the Swedish principles of blown glass formation diligently since my training with master Sven Erik in 1974. Color, texture and shape have been the major areas of pursuit and inspiration for me.

Q: What new elements do you bring forth into your current work as inspiration?
I start with a strong clear image; over time the series evolves. I always like strong color choices and thick, massive glass that lends itself to cutting and leaving tracks and facets. 

Currently I have challenged and expanded my palette by working in earth and neutral tones. At my upstate New York studio, we have been addressing how we can lessen our environmental footprint, so we have been re-melting part of our 50 ton pile of glass cut-offs. I have also been experimenting with specially formulated glass that melts at a lower temperature.

Q: Can you briefly explain, for the layperson, the difference between working with hot glass and cold-working glass?
Hot working means the glass is between 1900 and 2000 degrees and molten like honey, therefore requiring relatively quick and responsive blowing techniques.

After the glass has slowly cooled in the annealing oven, the time-consuming cold working of cutting and polishing takes place. I use an entirely different set of precision machines, equipment and hand tools. I sometimes use unusual tools to create textural details.

Q: What would you want someone who came to your show at The Laughing Dog Gallery to walk away with, besides a fabulous new piece of glass?
We hope to share our passion for glass and look forward to meeting the people who attend, and it is always very satisfying when a design I have toiled with pleases others as well as myself.

Born in Toledo, Ohio, in 1945, Leon Applebaum grew up in what would become the birthplace of American studio glass. He completed his BFA at the Massachusetts College of Art and received his MA at Peabody

College of Vanderbilt University and an MFA from Rochester Institute of Technology. In 1973, Applebaum spent a year studying and working at Kosta Boda Glass in Sweden. He has taught at RIT and Naples Mill Art School in Naples, N.Y. and has conducted workshops throughout the country. His work is represented in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and the Corning Museum of Glass, among many others. Applebaum currently resides with his family in Prattsburgh, N.Y.