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Unique glasswork on display

Managing editor

Jan Davis and Jeanice Thomas have a vision of what Marion could be — a hub for arts and crafts, a place for people to visit to see the best and most interesting art pieces with the small-town charm and uniqueness that is Marion.

The first step was when Davis opened Gallery 101 of the Flint Hills, 106 E. Main St., earlier this year which provides a showcase for local artists to display and sell their works.

The Art and Music Stroll, 1 to 5 p.m. June 12, will be the next step, with artists from the Flint Hills among those to be included in the event.

With assistance from Jeanice Thomas of Marion, Davis began planning the new event earlier this year as a way to bring visitors to Marion to see the impressive artwork available from local and area artists.

Among them is Grant Charpentier of Emporia. His work is available at Gallery 101 and will be displayed June 12 at Flint Hills Gold, 210 E. Main St., Marion.

He heard about the Marion gallery and the art and music stroll event from Davis at an education art show at McPherson College, where both were exhibitors.

Charpentier forms colored glass into unique shapes and sizes. The 30-year-old is an art teacher by day and a passionate artist in his free time.

The Lenexa native found his artful soul when he was a student at Emporia State University.

“I didn’t take art classes in high school,” Charpentier said, because it was too intimidating.

The 6-foot-7 former athlete took a ceramics class in college.

“I fell in love with it,” he said.

He moved on to working with glass and decided that was his passion.

From there, Charpentier earned a Bachelor of Science degree in secondary art education and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in glass forming.

Not wanting to limit himself to just one medium, Charpentier also works with mixed media, creating art pieces with metal, fibers, ceramics, and paint.

His chosen method of molding the glass is furnace working. Large pipes are dipped in glass with colors applied. The glass is then heated in a 2,200-degree Fahrenheit oven. The soft glass is then wrapped around something to make a shape. The heating and shaping takes 15 to 45 minutes, depending on the intricacy of the design and the number of colors added.

The glass piece then has to cool nearly a day before it can be handled.

For Charpentier, the thrill of making glass artwork is beyond the creation of each piece.

“The danger of working with glass and a hot oven is also thrilling,” he said.

Charpentier travels to Merriam to use a furnace at Rock Cottage Glasswork, owned by Dierk Van Kepple.

During the past seven years, Charpentier has honed his skills and he can now produce quality pieces the first try.

The pieces currently on display at the gallery include a bowl, decanters, and blue-green “seashells.”

Charpentier is grateful to mentors and friends Patrick Martin and Roberta Eichenberg from ESU.

“Without their encouragement and support, I wouldn’t be an artist,” he said.

Art included in garden tour

Flower paintings are also now on display at the gallery in conjunction with the annual garden tour June 25, which is sponsored by Marion City Library.

Last modified June 2, 2011

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