In an industrial corner near Normandy Oaks Park in Royal Oak, an assortment of nondescript buildings house auto repair shops, landscaping companies, and a tanning salon. Construction vehicles buzz through a nearby work area. Traffic signs warn of a dead end.
But nestled among cinder blocks in an understated black building is Habatat Galleries Detroit, the nation’s oldest and largest art gallery dedicated solely to glass. The sleek, dramatically lit space bustles with life as workers put the finishing touches on the gallery’s 50th annual International Glass Exhibition, which officially opens on Saturday evening.
“Being off the grid here on the outskirts of Royal Oak, our (foot traffic) is generally pretty minimal,” Habatat co-owner Aaron Schey said. “So we’re trying to get more people to come and celebrate with us.
The show, which is free and open to the public, was created by Habatat founder Ferdinand Hampson in 1972. It brings the world’s most renowned glass artists to the Detroit metro to show their work in person – a feat that is still possible this year. for the first time since 2019.
Schey said the event is not only an opportunity for the gallery to welcome back artists and art lovers, but also a way to bring the magic of glass art to a wider audience. .
“We want people to come and explore the art,” Schey says. “(The art of glass) is getting more and more impressive, the techniques are getting more elaborate, the science is improving. It’s very different from grandma’s glass work that has been around for years.
Schey clearly has strong feelings on the subject — “Not Your Grandma’s Glass” is the name of one of several streaming series he’s produced for Habatat over the past two years. He has co-owned the gallery with his half-brother, Corey Hampson, since 2013, when it was handed over to them by founder (and father/stepfather) Ferdinand Hampson.
“Glass is one of the most exciting mediums to work with,” says Schey. “You can work with hot, you can work with cold, you can fry it, you can stick it together.”
These different techniques are on full display in the new exhibition, where the pieces range from aesthetically beautiful sculptures to detailed installations that tell a story. The light bounces off the glass, creating a different experience depending on where the viewer is.
“Each piece has a narrative,” Schey says, pointing out an incredibly intricate multi-panel piece that was inspired by the artist’s experience with a terminal illness. “That’s really the point of the gallery – to try to share a message.”
The grand opening gala of the 50th annual Habatat International Glass Expo takes place on Saturday from 8-10 p.m. The exhibition will remain on view until July 29.
For more information, visit habatat.com.
Lauren Wethington is a breaking news reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or find her on Twitter at @laurenelizw1.