Glassblowing has a strong tradition in the St. Louis region, and it's only getting stronger. Stang recalls that in 1984, when Ibex opened in St. Louis, there were three glassblowing shops in the region, all located at universities -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and Washington University. Now Stang estimates that there are a dozen glassblowing shops in the area, including private studios and teaching workshops/rental facilities, such as Third Degree Glass at 5200 Delmar Boulevard. In addition, Stang is curating what promises to be a very important glass exhibition at Craft Alliance; the show will open in January 2005 and feature artists from around the world who work in murrini glass.
The continuing enthusiasm for glass is likely the reason that the distinguished Seattle-based Glass Art Society decided to hold its 2006 international conference in St. Louis, which both Levi and Stang see as a real coup for the city.
Blowing through town: David Levi's biomorphic vases
on view at Mad Art
Back in Augusta, Stang and Levi take a break from their work to talk about their art, their education and their long history together. They quibble a little over the details, but they essentially tell the same story. Their paths may have diverged, but it's clear that the two are never far apart from one another.
Stang takes down a lump of light-blue glass from a shelf and holds it out to Levi.
"What's that?" asks Levi.
"The first piece," answers Stang.
"My first piece?" asks Levi.
"No, my first piece," Stang answers. "But it's probably about the same as your first piece."