While many art shows and exhibits have gone virtual this year due to COVID-19, Mesolini Glass Studios decided to hold its 40th Winter Show in person with virus guidelines in place.
The glass studio held a similar in-person show in the summer without any hiccups, Greg and Diane Bonciolini said.
From Dec. 4-6 the glass studio will be holding its show, displaying mostly art from Greg and Diane, but also local artists such as Jerry Davis, Asha Kent and Ethan Currie. Each of the three days will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the studio, 13291 Madison Ave. NE.
Such items on display and available for sale include lamps, dishware, wall art, fish, garden art, jewelry, etc., through various techniques like stained glass, copper foil, fused glass, glass slumping, torch work and more. The Winter Show will offer an array of price points starting at $10 and up. Hundreds of items will be on display.
“(It’s our) fortieth year, so kind of difficult to not do it,” Diane said. “We’ll have some new things and some old favorites for everybody to see and purchase.”
COVID protocols will be mandatory masks and social distancing and limited occupancy. There will also be a tent outside in case the weather’s bad. Inside, all doors and windows will be open to allow fresh air in, and the studio rented an industrial cleaner to ensure air is being filtered. Greg expounded on why a virtual event wasn’t the best strategy for the studio.
“With virtual, it’s tough to show all that we offer,” he said. “We’ve got so many different items, it’s tough to list them all off.”
Given that some might be hesitant to come to an in-person event with the rising COVID rates of late, Greg said he understands the community’s cautious approach and is content with however many people show up.
“It’s more about just reaching out to the community and letting them know during this difficult time that we’re going to be available,” he said. “It’s also an open house-type scenario where people have come in over the years just to check-in. It’s more like a community event. Whether folks come or not, that’s totally their choice. We just want to let them know that we’re taking all the precautions possible to keep them safe.”
How it began
Appropriately, Greg and Diane met in the 1970s while at a stained glass studio in Seattle. After finding out about both of their similar art passions, the two made their career-defining choice of moving to Bainbridge in 1977 to start “doing it on our own.”
“We decided Bainbridge was just the perfect place,” Greg said. “We could start our own and get our feet under ourselves. We didn’t really have anything set in stone of what we wanted to do other than artwork.”
The duo soon became known for their dishware, a product that took them around the country to display at all kinds of galleries. Diane is primarily the designer of the art, meeting with clients and drawing up sketches for Greg to produce. Diane is also credited with starting the glass program at Bainbridge Artisan Resource Network.
“We definitely are a team,” Greg said. “I like working with my hands, I think Diane’s the same way. Glass is such a unique material in the fact that it’s unforgiving. If you break it, you get to start over again. I like the structure that’s needed, the discipline in order to produce it nicely. I was just drawn to it immediately as soon as I was shown how to cut glass.”
Looking back on their journey, Diane is proud of the longevity of their glass studio.
“It’s amazing because it’s hard for artists to make a living out of what they do with their hands,” she said. “Usually, there’s a spouse who can fund the artist that’s living with them. I think we’re just pedal to the medal and over the years have tried to get our name out there.”
Greg also echoed the importance of choosing the right location.
“It’s not just us, it’s a compliment to our community that we were able to survive,” he said. “We could have done this somewhere else and not had the success we’ve had.”