OMFA museum opens glass exhibition

·3 min read

May 15—The Owensboro Museum of Fine Art opened Glorious Glass this week, which is highlighted by the unveiling of a recent piece received by the museum by the late Stephen Rolfe Powell, a Kentucky glass artist.

More than 300 pieces in a wide variety of glassmaking techniques are included in the show, including items that are blown, cast, etched, slumped and carved. The pieces date back to the mid-19th century to the present and include American and European artists.

Powell's piece, called "Hesitation Whispering," is a large, vibrantly colored piece that is blown. It is a gift to the museum by an Ohio corporation, according to OMFA Executive Director Mary Bryan Hood.

Powell was a professor of art at Centre College in Danville, where he operated a hot glass shop that attracted artists from all over the world. His work is featured in many major museums around the world, and Hood said OMFA officials are delighted to have it.

"It's a very large vessel, probably about 4 to 5 feet tall," Hood said. "It is typical of his work that he did early in his career. It is exciting for Owensboro to have a piece of his work. He left a very large collection in his gallery and hot shop in Danville."

She said his pieces have been purchased by collectors and corporations, and distributed to museums around the country.

"We are very pleased to be the recipients of one of them," she said.

Other pieces in the exhibition encompass a period of 100 years of glassmaking, beginning with a collection of "whimsies" made in the late 1800s and continuing through to the present day.

These whimsies are accidental novelty items that are presented as canes, ceremonial staffs, vessels and bottles. Created between 1840 and 1880 by commercial glass factory workers in New York, they helped to spawn an international art form because at that time glass art was not being created and shown in such a way.

They were created by the glassworkers from leftover molten glass when their shifts ended. OMFA has 267 of the pieces.

Hood said the artists who created the whimsies are not known because they were workers who were given permission to create the pieces when their regular work hours. However, the specific factories from which they were created are known, and they hail from Lockport and Lancaster, New York.

Other glass works featured are those by Brook Forrest White, Jr., who runs the Flame Run Studio in Louisville and is well-known for his large, architectural glass installations, some of which are featured in the Owensboro Convention Center and the Owensboro Museum of Fine Art. There are also pieces by the late Mark Fowler and Robert Coy.

Also being unveiled are screen prints by Will Barnet, a 20th-century printer and printmaker, who taught in New York City, and Kentucky native Wallace Kelly, who created some of the WPA-era images of life in Kentucky.

This exhibition will continue through July 18.

The museum's public hours are from noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and from 1 to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday.

Admission to the museum is free, however, $3 voluntary donations are requested for adults and $2 for children. Access for physically challenged individuals is provided at the Atrium entrance in the Ninth Street parking lot.

For more information phone 270-685-3181 or visit the museum's website

More information may also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Bobbie Hayse,, 270-691-7315

Bobbie Hayse,, 270-691-7315

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