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Studio 55 Fine Arts Guild Resumes Monthly Meetings With Guest Speaker Cheryl Vowels

Cheryl Vowels Waters Fall
(Photo courtesy Fresh Gallery)
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"Waters Fall," one of the many pieces of glass art created by Cheryl Falls.

After more than a year's haitus during the COVID Pandemic, Studio 55's first monthly meeting of 2021 will feature glass artist Cheryl Vowels.

Studio 55 Fine Arts Guild is a group comprised of art lovers and visual artists, in all media, all levels of expertise, including art professionals and emerging artists. You have to be 18 years or older to join the guild. (It used to be exclusively for people aged 55 and older, but though they've remained retain the “55 “in the name, they have made membership more inclusive by pushing eligibility back to 18 years of age.) Studio 55 present educational programs, workshops and exhibitions, and holds monthly meetings, complete with guest speakers, on the second Wednesday of each month at 1:00pm in The Gallery at National Avenue Christian Church, 1515 S. National Avenue.

Or at any rate, they did until the COVID pandemic. Next Wednesday, November 10, Studio 55 will hold their first monthly meeting in over a year, with guest speaker Cheryl Vowels. She has been a glass artist for more than 40 years, and is one of Fresh Gallery’s juried resident artists. Cheryl joined us on KSMU’s “Arts News” to talk about her artwork, and about her speaking engagement for Studio 55.

“I started, I guess it was about 43 years ago,” she said. “My mother insisted because I've always loved glass, the reflective properties. It just dances in the sunlight. And that may have stemmed from some rock collecting with my dad.” Vowels began working with glass art utilizing the “lead came” technique, the original stained-glass technique that one sees displayed in ancient church and cathedral windows—the lead channels being the material that holds the stained glass pieces together. “Tiffany actually developed the technique that I use now, which is the copper foil method. And he literally had people hammer copper to the thickness of a sheet of glass and then wrap that around stuff. And they just opened up a whole possibilities of anything you could wrap foil around, you could put in your work. After I discovered that, I said, ‘no more straight lines!’ So I just make sure that they're organic. And my love for nature—I incorporate the agates, the rocks, the crystals, and I am a water baby. So I also have a nod to the ocean in most of them. I love sea life and aquatic life of any kind, and so they find my way into the works predominantly, and I just let the glass speak to me now. I did an article for International Stained Glass. I used to make the glass work for me. Now I work for the glass. So I see a piece, and it may be a piece of luster glass, or I see a shell, and those are my inspirations and there's no patterns. It just happens down at my glass studio and I lock the door so my husband can't come in and disrupt my thoughts!”

Cheryl Vowels is also a member of the local Fresh Gallery and serves as one of their juried resident artists. When Cheryl and her husband moved to Springfield about 15 years ago, she quickly discovered that “we have an amazing art community in Springfield—and if you haven’t been, go! But one thing I stumbled onto was Fresh Gallery and I went through that process. And it's different than any other gallery that I'm aware of in Springfield and the area, in that it is juried. So that means you submit artworks through (Fresh’s) website, and then they have a committee it's made up of retired art teachers, people of all different mediums, wood, metal, glass, jewelry, whatever. And they interview you for the process. They look at your pieces--how your work may fit into the gallery, right?” She says membership in another organization, Best of Missouri Hands,” works in a similar manner. “It's also a juried process. It is a collaborative at Fresh. There are no employees. We are it. So you do have to work and be on committees, but it's a wonderful space now.”

I asked Cheryl Vowels what she would present at the upcoming Studio 55 Guild meeting. “Well, since glass breaks, I'm going to do more of a PowerPoint presentation and bring in different examples of stained glass, of kiln formed glass, of blowing glass, which I do all of those procedures and processes. And then there are some glass carving. Once you get into kiln glass, there are so many other types that you can do. So I'm going to kind of explain the process of each, and bring an example; and then also show from whence I came, from my earliest works, which are almost a little embarrassing to show to where I am now. But I think we all need to know the journey that an artist takes.”

Both members and guests are welcome to attend the monthly Studio 55 meetings. Everyone is invited to bring along examples or their own art to share with the group, whether finished pieces or a work in progress. To join the Guild, annual dues are $30, but the general public is always welcome at the monthly meetings. Cheryl Vowels described it as “a nice way to, if you're just an artist or an art lover and new to town, maybe just to see all the different venues or avenues in which you can see art or display art. So they have a lot of opportunities for artists to hang and display works in different shows, which I've been in. And I'm also in another show at Obelisk Home. They're having a textile show, so there's a lot of different ways you can display or sell or be involved in the arts, and it's a wonderful avenue. So I encourage everybody to come.”

For information on Studio 55, call (417) 496-1838 or visit https://www.studio55guild.com.

Randy is in his 43rd year at KSMU (45 if you count his student days!)--first as Music Director, later under the the title "Arts Producer."