There’s a fleeting, beautiful moment every time Devan Cole shows someone how to blow glass.
Removing the raw, glowing globs of 2,000-degree material from a furnace, most folks just want to play with it.
“Before they even make anything, I let them just take some of the hand tools and move it around like putty for about 10 seconds,” said Cole, who will hold an exhibition and a series of workshops this month and next at Brickworks Gallery, located on the Beltline in a historic, industrial-era building.
“Botanical Adventures in Glass” is Cole’s exhibition, and his workshops are Brickworks Gallery’s first, according to Laura Adams, who founded the place in October 2016. She said artists like Cole are precisely the type of talent she’d like to continue bringing in to the gallery.
An opening reception for Cole’s art exhibition is scheduled for 6-9 p.m. April 6. Brickworks is hosting “Botanical Adventures in Glass” through May 15. Cole, who lives in Americus, is the founder and primary instructor at the Hot Glass Academy there. He has studied glassmaking techniques around the world.
“He’s a very enthusiastic, wonderful guy, and his work is very colorful, beautiful and fun,” said Adams, an artist who has shown her work in galleries and exhibitions across the country for more than 25 years.
“The mission of (Brickworks) is to show and showcase work and artists who have good stories to tell as well as having work that is (financially) accessible,” Adams said. “Devan’s work fit perfectly.”
Located inside the old B. Mifflin Hood Brick Co. at 686-A Greenwood Ave., in the Virginia-Highland neighborhood, Brickworks started originally as Adams’ and partner and photojournalist Andrew Feiler’s home.
“My partner and I were looking for a place to live, and we found this really unique building on the Beltline,” Adams said. “We fell in love with the space and decided we were going to turn it into a home, but there was also an area of the building I wanted to set up as my studio, just for my work.”
The more time Adams spent working in the unique space, the more she realized she wanted to use it to showcase the work of others as well. In October 2016, Brickworks Gallery opened to do just that.
According to Brickworks’ website, the gallery is dedicated to showing the art of “talented and inspired artists whose work tells compelling stories” from artists who come from all walks of life and have one trait in common: “Their work is a finely crafted expression of their lives and life experiences.”
The 108-year-old former brick company’s headquarters and showroom is now filled with the artwork of more than 20 artists, landscape painters and sculptors. Most of the work at Brickworks is priced at less than $1,000.
Howard Kurtzman, whose abstract/modern art acrylic on canvas work is currently on display at Brickworks, feels the gallery is unique “for its historical value and its original architecture.”
Kurtzman said he also likes that the gallery is in a “very pedestrian-friendly, walkable neighborhood that’s full of great people.”
The gallery is a five-minute walk north on the Beltline from Ponce City Market and a five-minute walk down the Beltline from the southeast corner of Piedmont Park.
Adams said she feels the Beltline has “helped shape the vision of the gallery … I love living on the Beltline. The people are all so happy, and they’re expressing themselves through art or the way they ride their bike. You can see some interesting characters out there … People on skateboards. People on roller skates. People rolling their dogs on things.”
Added Adams: “It’s really a wonderful community experience.”
Adams hopes her gallery can help enrich the community experience through workshops like the one coming up.
During Cole’s series of workshops, participants can create their own piece of artistic glass by enrolling in one of the sessions offered April 29-30 and May 6-7. Each session costs $72.
“You can make a piece of glass for your mom for Mother’s Day, or it can be a date night — that kind of thing,” Adams said.
Cole said those who attend his workshop can decide whether they’d like to make a cup, an ornament or a small paperweight.
“I think my biggest goal is just making people feel comfortable doing this, so they can enjoy their time in the workshop,” Cole said.
He said he enjoys helping others kindle an interest in working with glass.
“While (the molten glass is) hot, while it’s viscous, seeing their excitement is such a thrill for me,” Cole said. “I find it really inspiring.”
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