Brett Mountain Photographer
Habatat Galleries opens its doors for its 46th annual glass invitational — and local collectors open their doors for a peek at how they live with their art.
In addition to being brother and sister, Jim Danto and Gail Danto share another strong bond — they are passionate about and collectors of glass art.
In distant and separate travels, the siblings and their respective spouses find works of glass art that captivate them. Close to home, they also have been able to connect with international glass artists through exhibits and programs based in Royal Oak.
Sandy and Jim Danto as well as Gail Danto and Arthur Roffey have acquired glass art through Habatat Galleries in Royal Oak, where preparation is being made for the 46th Annual International Glass Invitational, the largest and oldest annual studio glass exhibition in the world with its presence extended even further through associated programming.
“Collecting glass is sort of in my genes,” says Jim Danto, president of the Michigan Design Center in Troy — founded by his father, Marvin Danto, who with his wife, Betty, were respected community leaders. The MDC is also where Habatat will be opening a small gallery. “My father was a major glass collector, and I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve kept some of his pieces since he passed away, and my wife and I have added to that. “
Sandy and Jim Danto spread their glassworks around their home instead of showcasing them as a centrally displayed collection. On their front porch, for instance, is a Marlene Rose piece that looks like very large bells. On their kitchen island is a prism design that allows viewers to experience different colors as they walk around it.
“In the sunroom, we have a piece that looks like a musical instrument with an African feel,” says Sandy Danto, a leader in many Jewish organizations, including Jewish Family Service, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit. “When you look at it, you wouldn’t think it was glass. The details and intricacies are amazing.”
Habatat has brought people into the Danto home to point out how artworks can be integrated into interior design.
“We feel really comfortable we’ve accomplished that,” Sandy says. “We didn’t want pieces that were necessarily spotlighted. We just wanted each one to feel comfortable for a space.”
Besides being attracted to individual works of glass, the couple finds the medium interesting because it usually does not deteriorate and therefore is able to retain its original beauty. They also like that it offers so many different looks.
In Gail Danto and Arthur Roffey’s home, a favorite work, placed in front of a window, has an Eric Hilton design building on the idea of phoenix rising out of the flames.
“Before we buy any work of glass, we both have to love it and relate to it,” explains Gail, whose community leadership responsibilities reach many organizations, such as the Jewish Women’s Foundation and the Jewish Hospice and Chaplaincy Network. “We have eclectic tastes and choose both natural and very modern works.”
Gail Danto, who traces her interest to home surroundings in childhood, also feels connected to the artists and regularly attends formal art shows in Chicago and Florida.
“Meeting the artists is an enriching experience,” she says. “We get to know them through the art shows, and those connections provide a way of enriching ourselves.”
This year’s Habatat Invitational, “Glasstopia,” opened April 28. More than 400 works from 26 countries will be exhibited through June 22.
Five Jewish artists, who previously have shown work in Michigan, will be returning to talk with guests about their new pieces on display.
Cast glass enters into the works of Alex Bernstein and Daniel Clayman. While Bernstein this year presents two arch forms made of both cast and cut glass, Clayman showcases a contemporary blue circular design formed from strictly cast glass.
Hot sculpted glass transforms into two abstract works dominated by shades of blue in Martin Blank’s artistry. Blown glass and flame-worked glass become part of the process showcased by Laura Donefer, who offers multi-colored amulet baskets.
Steve Linn, traveling from France, mixes media as he moves into more realistic forms. Wood, bronze and aluminum are used in his current glass works, one connected to artist Peter Voulkos and the other linked to poet, publisher and painter Lawrence Ferlinghetti.
“The Glass Invitational opening weekend in Michigan is dedicated to experiencing every aspect of art glass,” says Corey Hampson, whose father, Ferdinand Hampson, founded the gallery with operational responsibility now divided between the younger Hampson and his step-brother Aaron Schey. In addition to enhancing their own landmark gallery, Hampson and Schey have spent the last year lending their expertise by helping to establish art-glass collections in museums across the country.
“Over the years, art glass became more than blown glass and includes cast, slumped, fused, flame-worked and laminated approaches,” he says. “In the late 1970s, artists started incorporating other materials into their projects.”
Supplementing the Invitational, and just across the street from the gallery, will be two special displays — one focusing on the artistry of Peter Bremers from the Netherlands and another featuring Bertil Vallien of Sweden.
A highlight of this year’s art glass weekend is a tour of the recently completed Davidson Gerson Gallery of Glass featuring the collection of Bruce and Anne Bachmann at the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village in Dearborn. The Henry Ford Glass Hot Shop will present a demonstration by a Habatat artist.
Another tour opportunity is the recently expanded Contemporary Craft Wing of the Flint Institute of Arts. It features more work by Vallien and will premiere the opening of the Shirley and Sherwin Glass (family name) Collection.
“We look forward to collectors and non-collectors attending this year’s International and visiting the associated programming,” Corey Hampson says. “We want our visitors to enjoy and take pride in Michigan’s contribution to the art glass world.”
“Glasstopia,” the Habatat Galleries 46th Annual International Glass Invitational, opened on April 28 and runs through June 22, Tuesdays-Sundays, at its 12,000-square-foot galleries in Royal Oak. It is free and open to the public. (248) 554-0590; habatat.com.