Aug 292013
 
In my opinion, this year’s Annual Summer Conference, which was held in Indianapolis, Indiana, in early June, was one of the better conferences the Stained Glass Association of America has had in recent years, and the SGAA has a history of quality conferences. This year’s presentations were informative, entertaining, and engaging; the exhibition had some extremely fine pieces that represented stained glass very well; and the venue itself — downtown Indianapolis — was extremely nice, clean, and home to a number of excellent restaurants, not the least of which was the Weber Grill. I know there were a number of others who enjoyed eating there as much as I did, and for them — and for anyone else who might find it interesting — I’d like to point out that their website, webergrillrestaurant.com, features recipes of some of the dishes they serve there.
I would also like to say a very big thank you to SGAA member Michael “Zimmy” Zimmerman. When I say this conference could not have been what it was without him, that is no exaggeration. Because of my knee injury, I was not able to drive, nor was I able to do much lifting or many of the other things that I regularly do at a conference. Zimmy flew to Kansas City, helped load the truck, drove it to Indianapolis, and helped with every aspect of setup and cleanup above and beyond what he had volunteered to do as chairman of the Exhibition Committee. The SGAA is blessed with many members whose dedication to the Association and whose strength of character and desire to advance the cause of the Ancient Craft is truly impressive; Michael Zimmerman certainly deserves to be recognized as one of those members.
Of course, I also have to mention the 125th Anniversary Celebration at Kokomo Opalescent Glass. What fun that was! I have been fortunate enough to have visited Kokomo in the past and was happy to be there again. I, like most who are involved in stained glass, really enjoy watching sheets of glass being made. While watching the men taking ladles of molten glass from the furnace to the roller, I made the same comment I made last time I was there and the same comment I am sure I will make the next time I am there: I wonder how much I would have to pay them to let me do that job for fifteen minutes?
Our hosts — John O’Donnell, Dick Elliott, and the entire Kokomo Opalescent Glass staff — were wonderful hosts. They treated us to quite a celebration, and it was very nice to be able to celebrate this important milestone with them.
The Stained Glass Association of America’s Annual Summer Conference could not be what it is without the support of our sponsors. (For a complete sponsor list, please see pages 98 and 99; please be sure to support these companies with your business, and let them know you appreciate their support of the SGAA.) Every one of our sponsors is directly responsible for much of the success of the Conference. I would especially like to extend a personal thank you to Jon Rarick of Reusché & Company of T.W.S., Inc., and Robert Jayson of S.A. Bendheim, Inc. These long-time supporters truly understand the vision of the Association and are willing to support that vision as we work for a better future for stained, decorative, and architectural art glass. Not only are they willing to support the Annual Summer Conference, but they also generously support the SGAA Stained Glass School with donations of materials for both conference classes and on-site workshops at the SGAA Headquarters. Gentlemen, I thank you for that support.
I started off by saying I thought this was one of the better Annual Summer Conferences in recent years, and it certainly was! However, I have to say that I am expecting next year’s conference — an Artists’ Retreat at the historic Elms Resort & Spa in Excelsior Springs, Missouri, which is just northeast of Kansas City — to exceed even Indianapolis. The discussion and planning for the Artists’ Retreat has been very exciting. There will be more hands-on classes and workshops as a regular part of the Conference than there has been at recent conferences. This format is not simply a new direction for the Association’s Annual Summer Conference; it is really more a return to our roots and revisiting the format of Conferences long ago, when it was not uncommon for the Association to plan a life-drawing class for its members complete with music provided by a string quartet. Like I said, it has been very exciting to be a part of that planning; you can expect to see much more about Excelsior Springs 2014 over the next several issues as planning progresses.