Fun & Functional
Louisville glass blower Balster
to display his talent
He created this year’s Chautauqua exhibitor awards
(September 2016) – Louisville, Ky., artist Chad Balster likes the challenge of working with glass. For him, there is no other medium comparable to it, and his distinctive creations are uniquely his own.
Creating artworks out of glass is a “challenge. It’s not easy,” said Balster, 40. “There is no give in relation to glass.”
He called it an “expressive media.” It is one in which there is a fusing of energy and action as glass undergoes a transformation from solid to liquid and liquid to solid.
Balster is a second-year exhibitor at this year’s Madison Chautauqua Festival of Art.
Chad Balster of Louisville, Ky., works with glass at his studio. Below are some samples of his work.
Originally from Minneapolis, Balster studied painting and drawing, earning a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts at the University of Minnesota in 2000. For the following two years he attended the University of Wisconsin.
Balster is the “artist who created our exhibitor awards this year,” said Amy Fischmer, co-coordinator for the Madison Chautauqua Festival of Fine Art. “He was chosen because he was new to our festival last year.”
While apprenticing in a studio, he took art classes at the University of Minnesota. Glass blowing classes “just were not offered. I had to learn on the job.” Balster has gained experience by working in foundries, doing computer-based work and in working for a blacksmith.
In 1996 Balster was employed doing “finishing work for a glass artist,” he said. After this experience, “I followed it as much as I could.”
From there he traveled to the headwaters of the Mississippi river, Seattle, Washington and finally to Louisville, Ky., in 2003. At that time he was invited to be a resident artist at Louisville Glassworks, where he produced art, taught classes and even built mobile glass studios.
Balster taught mini “Blow Your Own” five-minute workshops (ages 7-90), one-day workshops (ages 18 and over), weekend two-day Glassblowing Retreats, one-week Intensive Glassblowing Classes, and several five-week courses (Beginning Glass-blowing, Glass-blowing I & II).
From 2004-2011 he was the Resident Artist at Louisville Glassworks in Louisville. Balster established his own studio in 2011 in Louisville. Several years earlier, in 2007, he was awarded a commission in partnership with Louisville Glassworks and Westport Village to engineer and fabricate the equipment for “Juicy Lucy – The Glassblowing Hot Rod.”
By 2008 he had created Juicy Lucy, a mobile glassblowing studio based out of a van. All the equipment was designed specifically to be portable. Louisville Glassworks uses this program for glass education and object making workshops in Kentucky and southern Indiana.
He has taught Beginning Glassblowing at The Studio and has been a teaching assistant for Mark Matthews from 2010 to the present. Matthews’ work is highly collected and valued and can be found in museums such as the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, England.
In 2012 Balster founded Chad Balster Glass in the Germantown Neighborhood of Louisville and began constructing his own line of mobile glassblowing equipment. Although he does the majority of work from his studio, he also “utilizes other glass studios in the area,” Balster said. The same year he worked as a Glassblowing Instructor at the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, N.Y.
Balster has held many exhibitions that feature his artwork, such as “All About Glass” in 2015 at the Gallery On the Square in Franklin, Ky.; “Equinox” at the Carriage House Gallery in Louisville; and “Ordered Chaos” at the Von Fire Gallery in Louisville.
He said his work is “fun and functional. I enjoy the expressiveness of glass.”
Balster’s work is made to be used. He creates a variety of decorative pieces and one-of-a-kind sculptures.
He participates in several juried art shows throughout the year, when time allows. Following the Madison Chautauqua he will be attending the St. James Court Art Fair. Other shows he exhibits in include Art in Speed Park in Sellersburg, Indiana, and shows in Cincinnati and Indianapolis.
Some of Balster’s friends suggested that he should try to jury into the Madison Chautauqua. “It’s a beautiful setting and a nice community on the river,” he said. “An added bonus in that it is halfway between Cincinnati and Louisville.”