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The West Virginia Division of Culture and History will celebrate a new exhibition, Blenko: West Virginia’s Gift to the World, with a gala opening on Thursday, March 8, in the Cultural Center, State Capitol Complex, Charleston. Visitors can meet the owner, Richard Blenko, hear a gallery talk, see a film about the company, purchase a limited edition vase, hear live music by Charleston jazz musician Steve Himes and register to win a one-of-a-kind studio art glass vase from 6-9:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
The exhibit will be on display in the Lobby Gallery and the north wing of the Balcony Gallery and consists of more than 100 pieces from the West Virginia State Museum Collection and the Huntington Museum of Art Collection. In addition, the company will have several special edition pieces incorporated into the show.
Blenko will give a gallery talk about the craft of making glass and show a 55-minute film, Blenko: The Spirit of American Stained Glass. The film chronicles the ongoing influence of the Blenko family’s glassworks on stained glass production in America.
Richard Blenko is the fourth generation of the Blenko family to practice the art of antique glass making. Blenko Art Glass Company was founded in 1893 by William J. Blenko in Kokomo, Ind. William had worked in London glasshouses from the age of 13 and moved to the U.S. with the intention of starting the first glasshouse outside of Europe that could supply mouth blown sheet glass for stained glass windows. In 1921, he settled in Milton, W.Va., where the company is located today. Blenko Glass remains the only American antique glass producer.
Blenko will have 100 limited edition vases available for purchase. The vases sell for $120 and are signed and numbered. Visitors also are invited to register to win a free 23-inch tall, one-of-a-kind, studio art glass vase valued at $2,500. No purchase is necessary but the winner must be present to win. Photographs of the limited edition vase and pieces from the exhibition can be downloaded from our website at www.wvculture.org/agency/press/blenko070308.html.
For more information about the Blenko: West Virginia’s Gift to the World exhibit or the opening on March 8, contact Charles Morris, collections and exhibits manager for the Division, at (304) 558-0220, ext. 704.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. Its administrative offices are located at the Cultural Center in the State Capitol Complex in Charleston, which also houses the state archives and state museum. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. The agency also operates a network of museums and historic sites across the state. For more information about the Division’s programs, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.
Media Note: Richard Blenko can be reached at (304) 743-9081.
Click on the image below to download a high-resolution jpg for publicity.
All photos by Michael Keller, WV Division of Culture and History