Glassblower Drew Smith Dies of Cancer

My thanks to my friend Jan Richardson who passed me the following information about well-known artist Drew Smith, and also to fiber artist Jan Mayer for sending updated information with stories from Candiss Cole and Curtis Benzle (I can't believe, Curt, you are now a "professor emeritus") about this man who lived a great life: Master Glassblower Drew Smith passed away of inoperable liver cancer on 12/21/08 in his home in Pacific Beach, near San Diego, California. His very loving and caring finance’, Linda Livingston was right by his side throughout the entire passage. Smith graduated with his B.A. from Ashland University in Ohio. He learned glass making from Henry Halem at Kent State University where he was a graduate assistant. He taught glassblowing at Columbus College of Art and Design from 1981 to 1986. Drew was as very well known figure in the American Crafts field from 1971 to 2002 where he was a regular exhibitor at the American Craft Council shows, The Buyers Market of American Crafts, and The Ohio Designer Craftsmen shows, among many others. Drew Smith was one of the leading glass blowers to come out of Ohio, and was highly regarded throughout the world for his creative genius with the medium of hand blown glass. His studio was based in the Hocking Hills- Logan, area, just outside of Columbus, Ohio for many years before moving it to Tampa, Florida. Drew received a lot of recognition in the Tampa community for upgrading his neighborhood with truly a magnificent art gallery and studio. From there he went to Jamaica, and then to Pacific Beach, San Diego. In Drew’s early career, he specialized in lamps, vases, and tablewear. Later on, he moved to larger scale work in sculpture, metal and glass furniture and ornamental iron and glass gates. In 1999 he was featured in an issue of Glass Art magazine as one of the four leading glass furniture makers in the world. Smith cast glass into metal pieces like doing large cloisonne’. Smith called his technique “Ferro Vitro.” Drew’s hand blown glass and sculptural works have been exhibited at numerous shows and galleries throughout the U.S. , Europe, and Japan, with permanent collections in various art museums including the Corning Museum and the Smithsonian Institution. Daniel Schreiber, a glass artist who studied with Drew said: “Drew taught me almost everything I know about working professionally as a glass artist, and operating a glass studio. Apprenticing to him in his studio in Logan, Ohio, was the richest and most rewarding period in my artistic development and I will always fondly remember not only the art, the glass, but the food and drink, the stories and experiences, and most of all his friendship, and generosity and always his very positive attitude about his life, despite its challenges.” Candiss Ann Cole, noted fiber artist, said: “Drew was one of the first craftspeople to take me under his wing and guide me into this world we live in over 33 years ago. Drew and I met at the Frederick Craft Show in Maryland. He always had a Big smile and was always willing to share, and always moved to his own drummer. I guess The Drummer finally called him to the big Glass Studio in the sky! Drew’s magnificient art work will live in the lives of his customers, but he will live in our hearts forever. Chuck Feil, professional photographer, author of 11 books, and owner of Panterra Gallery, was one of Drew’s best pals for over 25 years said the following motto sums Drew up best: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, wine in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming WOO HOO what a ride.” Curtis Benzle, Professor Emeritus of Columbus College of Art and Design where Drew also taught, said “ Great ideas bubbled up out of Drew like fresh water from a spring. You could never quite know his source of inspiration but exciting new work just kept coming. Inspiration, ideas and always great execution were Drew’s trademarks. Drew knew as well as anyone that ideas without execution were just daydreams. Fortunately for us, Drew was also a master craftsman and he worked hard to fill our world with a lasting legacy of his artistic genius.” Jan Mayer, of Kriska painting on silk, another long term close friend of Drew’s, fondly remembers Drew as “one of the most loving, EXTREMELY COLORFUL, and giving members our artistic community has ever seen. If you ever needed a bed or a good meal or a helping hand, Drew never said no to anyone. Drew had a heart as big as the state of Texas. When the crafts business was booming, I used to organize outdoor recreational events for artists and gallery owners. These included white water rafting trips, ski trips to Utah and the French Alps, and houseboating trips on Lake Powell. Drew always volunteered to be my chef, pro bono! He loved to cook the finest creative meals possible with whatever he could dig up. He would often fly across the country with some of his ‘hand picked wild mushrooms’ or home raised chickens or turkeys. Appetizers would start around 5 p.m. and he would continue to feed us these utterly remarkable gourmet delights up until about 11p.m. For Drew, cooking and living were art forms just as much as glassblowing. One year during one of our artist ski trips to Alta, Utah, Drew presented every participant one of his hand blown glass goblets. I would have to say that all in all, Drew was as much of ‘ renaissance man’ as I have ever personally known.” Drew’s Mother, brother and daughter were all able to speak with him to say goodbye just minutes before his passing. Drew was cremated wearing a black shirt with brightly colored parrots and flowers at the top, black pants, purple socks and yellow crocs, resting on bright neon green pillows. Please log on and sign Drew’s guest book, and live a legacy for his family and many friends: Donations in honor of Drew may be made to Craft Emergency Relied Fund. CERF is the one and only non profit organization that assists craftspeople with interest free loans and grants when disaster or illness strikes. Your donations to CERF are a tax deductible, charitable contribution. Drew had the utmost respect for CERF, as it is truly a heart based, no nonsense organization that really does help craftspeople in time of need. CERF(Craft Emergency Relief Foundation) P.O. Box 838 Montpelier, Vermont 05601 802-223-6484
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