“Being an artist is like being an athlete,” California-born, Broadway, Va. resident Lisa Aronzon says. “You have to train your body. Teach yourself all the moves, how to handle the tools and know when to take all the steps.”
Her chosen craft, blown glass, is a physical art, she says, adding she coined the term “art sport” to reflect all the physical effort that must go into the craft to complete it.
“The art comes in knowing how to use color, how to design proportions,” she said.
From her home in the Shenandoah Valley, Aronzon creates glowing pieces of finely blown glass vases, dishes and other items. She’s come a long way from her Oakland, Calif. days of painting and drawing.
“Color is definitely one of my biggest inspirations,” she says. Colors and pallates have always interested her. In her glass-making, she says differently colored glass can operate like watercolors and oil paints.
“You can blend them, but sometimes they don’t quite blend like paint,” she says. “You eventually figure out which combinations work and which don’t through trial and error. A lot of people are really known for the color combinations.”
Her passion for color is what opened the door to her current craft.
“A friend of main was painting on glass,” she says. “So we got this kiln and starting playing with it, reading books about the art. We started melting sheets of painted glass together to make jewelry. It kind of took off from there.”
Although she’d already been to college, Aronzon returned to graduate school so she could study glass work. Flash forward 20 years and she finds herself living in tranquil rural settings and attending shows like Charlotte’s Fine Arts Show, set to take over the old Merchandise Mart Oct. 24-25.
Aronzon doesn’t sell her pieces through art galleries and instead prefers to sell directly to the people who love and cherish the items for which galleries will charge exorbitant rates.
“I’m pretty much wholesaling to my customers,” she said. “I have things for as low as $15 and I go up to about $700. In a gallery, some of my pieces would be sold for $1,200 to $1,500. I make my work and take it out to these shows and sell it to people without having to compensate a gallery.”
Born in Los Angeles, Aronzon moved to rural Virginia just three years ago. She said she’d always wanted to own a home of her own. She found just what she was looking for right here in the South.
“It was $200,000,” she says ecstatically. “You can’t buy anything like this in California. I thought I’d never own a house in my entire lifetime. I have this house, with a garden, in an older neighborhood. It was all so exciting.”
Aronzon says she knew what she might possibly be getting herself into when she made the move from progressive California. She was pleasantly surprised when she learned most of her neighbors were warmly welcoming and not at all any of the stereotypes she thought she’d encounter.
“People are pretty accepting here, much nicer than I expected,” she says. “I like my little corner of Broadway.”
If the beauty of her glasswork is any indication, her art likes it, too.
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