El Segundo Heats Up as Local Glassblowing Studio Opens to Public
By Aimee Sones
Amid the energy, warmth, and joy of summertime in El Segundo, this past June the Los Angeles Glass Center (LAGC) opened its doors in Smoky Hollow, inviting the community to experience first hand the art and craft of glassblowing and shaping molten glass. Alongside the roar of hot furnaces, skilled glass artisans welcome the public to the LAGC, a 4,500-square-foot facility that has been transformed into a thriving, creative community space. LAGC is committed to sharing hot glass with everyone through public programming, community events, first-time experiences, private corporate events, and glassblowing workshops.
A Little History
For almost twenty years, El Segundo has served as a hub for artists working with molten glass. Since 2000, the city has drawn young glass artists from such local universities as Cal State Fullerton, Cal State San Bernardino, and Santa Monica College to work in its local studios. In 2004, Southern California native and highly skilled glass artist Joe Cariati returned to the area following his studies at San Francisco State and began working at Revolution Glass in Smoky Hollow, owned and operated by Josh Gelfand.
Since then, Cariati has expanded his elegant namesake brand and opened his own studio in 2011 at 141 Penn Street. His work is featured in design boutiques and department stores across the country, garnering global recognition, public accolades, and major press. As he has grown his career, Joe has focused not only on his own work but on building a company rich in culture and support for his employees’ own artistic growth and expansion. Because of Joe’s involvement in teaching, artists have flocked from across the country and as far away as Australia to work with him. Several of these creatives have since gone on to pursue artistic residencies, exhibitions, and professional or entrepreneurial opportunities.
In the spring of 2019, Joe realized it was time to return to education and expand his mission, revisiting his community-oriented and educational roots. He contacted Aimee Sones, now the center’s executive director, to tap her long history of educational, artisanal, and community-driven accomplishments that extend from Ohio and the Pacific Northwest to Dubai and India, and she and Joe built a plan to share hot glass with the El Segundo and greater Los Angeles communities via the birth of the Los Angeles Glass Center.
Since June, LAGC has hosted more than 1,000 visitors via El Segundo Art Walk, a Netflix “Blown Away” viewing party with host Nick Uhas, an Oktoberfest event, private corporate events, lessons, and classes. In November, LAGC proudly featured the enormously skilled new Los Angeles resident Ethan Stern for a public demonstration and “Bubble Shaper” weekend workshop for advanced techniques. Future plans for the center include special holiday workshops for individuals and groups to make their own colorful ornaments, group glassblowing classes beginning early 2020, and youth programming for local schools.
Who’s Who at LAGC
LAGC houses a strong team of educators, makers, and administrators focused on sharing the craft of glass-making with the community. One such staff member, Tulsa Oklahoma-based artist Cedric Mitchell, moved to Southern California in 2016 to work for Joe, while simultaneously pursuing his own brand: Cedric Mitchell Design. In his home state, Cedric worked with the non-profit Tulsa Glassblowing School as an educator and mentor for youth programs.
In the spring of this year, the talented fine artist Austin Fields, now employed at LAGC, relocated from Fort Worth, Texas to the Los Angeles area to expand her creative practice and immerse herself in the Los Angeles art scene.
The vibrant and powerful artist Corey Pemberton, a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, moved west from the East Coast in June and is currently dividing his time between fine-art painting and glassblowing.
Executive Director Aimee Sones joins her teaching experience with her arts administration and nonprofit backgrounds. She has exhibited her work internationally and is focused on creating replicable systems that bring fun, joy, and excitement to individuals and their communities.
Experience Hot Glass for Yourself!
There is a new home for hot glass in El Segundo that is accessible to the public and truly unique. LAGC is committed to sharing glass with the community. The skilled and enthusiastic staff encourage the community to feel energized and inspired by the magical material of glass as it is transformed from raw ingredients into a liquid and malleable material, then cools into its solid state. You are invited to be a part of El Segundo’s dedication to the glass arts and creative community education at LAGC in Smoky Hollow.
Aimee Sones is executive director of LAGC.
This story appears in the December 2019 issue of The El Segundo Scene.