Keller Citizen

January 13, 2014

Fused glass art on display in Old Town Keller

Local artist’s creations are inspired by nature.

Visitors to Elm Street Studio through February in Old Town Keller will be treated to an exhibit of fused glass.

Arlington artist Leslie Friedman’s show "Majestic Memories" features individual pieces of fused glass inspired by the birch trees of Colorado.

Gallery owner Shelly Hye discovered Friedman’s work at a shop in Roanoke two years ago and was determined to have her pieces featured at the gallery.

"I saw her work at the shop and immediately just thought, ‘whoa, these are so beautiful,’" Hye said.

When she met Friedman years later at the Southlake Town Square Arts Festival, Hye talked with her about setting up a show featuring her works, something Friedman said she doesn’t do often.

"I don’t usually show in galleries," Friedman said. "But when I talked with (Hye) and saw the vibe of the gallery I knew it was a good fit for my pieces."

Friedman describes her works as calm, evoking a peaceful and esoteric atmosphere of nature. Her fused glass work, which she has been doing for 10 to 11 years, evolved through her work with stained glass.

Hye said she takes care to find galleries that fit well with the nature of the studio – since the space also is used for parties and special events, anyone could rent the space, so the featured pieces should be appropriate and not dark or provocative.

Friedman’s pieces are made through stacking several layers of three-quarter-inch glass and placing them in a kiln. Friedman cuts the glass herself and lets them fire for 40 to 60 hours each, not including post-production time.

"I make the pieces face-down, so I never really know what they’ll look like until they’re out of the kiln," she said. "It’s like Christmas every morning."

Friedman says no piece can ever be perfectly re-created because of the nature of the kiln. The expansion of the glass materials can cause the trees created in the glass to curve.

"But as I was driving through Aspen I noticed the trees there do that, they curve whichever direction," Friedman said.

"It kind of gives it that more natural, realistic feel," Hye agreed.

Visitors to the gallery can view Friedman’s pieces and buy them. Throughout the rest of the year, Friedman plans to show at more festivals.

"Festivals and shows can be difficult because sometimes 200 or more artists apply and maybe 20 make it," Friedman said. "I’m getting to that point where I’m starting to be recognized for my work so I enjoy setting up at these shows and making my space more inviting."

Friedman said she plans to install a chandelier to her show booth to make her guests feel at home while they view her pieces.

Hye said she is happy to see Friedman’s work on display and hopes that her work will inspire young artists and students to market themselves in the art world for gallery owners to see.

"A lot of students say, ‘I just want to make art,’ and that’s really cool, but if you want anyone to see it you have to be proactive," she said.

Hye became the gallery owner a year and a half ago after teaching art full time at a high school, before she moved to working full time at the gallery with her husband’s contracting business upstairs.

"Sometimes you just have to have your heart open to see what would happen," she said.

Friedman’s work will remain on display through Feb. 8. A wine and cheese reception will be held Jan. 16 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the gallery, 139 S Elm St. in Keller.

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