GLASS MASTER, TRENDSETTER, GOOD GUY, BOTANIST!                  Art glass guru, hot shop builder, community difference maker, visionary?     Too much?….

This guy and his team are pretty cool even with the heat of a kiln! 

Duncan was just a 5 year old boy when he first saw molten glass. The heat and the fire of it was enticing. What was created was beautiful. The fact that it stuck with him and directed him in life is profound. This simple visit to a glass blowing factory in West Virginia was the strike plate to an amazing operation in St. Petersburg.  Duncan McClellan is a major contributor to St. Petersburg, FL becoming an art glass capitol in the USA.

Everyone thinks of a few great people and places when they think of artistic glass works, Murano in Italy, Chihuly. The name that resonates here, in St. Petersburg FL, is Duncan McClellan.  He studied in Italy in the town of Murano at the famous ARS studios. Only the second US citizen to do so, he brought those secrets home. His work in helping create an art glass “mecca” in the area have surpassed almost anyones.  He has not done more as far as spending money to promote or by building a giant museum. Duncan has done more to create an art glass community by creating the actual community. He has built a school for glassworks, a non-profit outreach for glasswork and is a founder of the Warehouse Art District. Oh, and also he’s an exceptional glass artist!  He took on conceptual leadership that brought about big changes in St. Pete… building of an art community.

Someone has to start a trend.

Back in 2009 Duncan purchased and renovated an old warehouse in St. Pete. The surrounding area was pretty blighted. He and a few others had a vision of greatness that was not just a pipe dream. What if the industrial area of yesteryear could spring forth a new beginning? And so it was born.

Duncan and others set about creating what is now the “Warehouse Arts District of St. Petersburg.  It is home to many renowned artists and offers amazing art spaces for the up and comers.  This area was once home to business of the bygone industrial age and has become the hot bed of creativity in the modern day. The Warehouse Arts District Association (WADA) is a nonprofit that attracts further growth to the city.

An Art Center.

Every month there is a “Second Saturday Art Walk.” It’s turned into a large event driving con·nois·seurs of the finer things towards the art circle of St Pete. The Duncan McClellan Gallery is the hub, whether identified as such or not. His space is awesome.

When Duncan purchased the property and his team of superhero’s started renovating an old fish and tomato packing warehouse into an art center others may have doubted his sanity. But vision cannot be stopped when it is truly visionary.  What was once a solid structure allowing for mechanical production of canned food became a center for creativity and education. Few transformations have been as extreme. And so, others in the surrounding area followed suit.  FACT: Associating with the successful is smart.

Home to great artists.

Today the 7800 Sq Ft. of gallery hosts dozens of the most renowned and respected names in the art world. The  creators of glass masterpieces. If you are aware of the glass artists scene you will recognize the absolute best in the world on display. This is not the place to go buy a $100 dollar trinket. The gallery hosts the highest quality glass art available, museum quality in most cases. So, buy because you recognize pure beauty.

Events are regular affairs and the property has been created for a crowd that likes to be wowed.  A little know fact is that Duncan has three passions: First his lovely wife whom, as with all achieving men, has been indispensable.  Second is glass. Third, he loves the nature of growing things. Almost as striking as the glass art that is on display are his varieties of trees, shrubs,plants and growing techniques. He has integrated life into an art yard. The foliage is breathtaking and amazing. Often fruit is offered from his trees as a gift to those that visit. It’s like something out of a movie about the Tuscan region of Italy. It is special beyond the norm. Add wine and sunset, You will find it there.

How it’s made.

On the property is a Hot Shop. Sounds simple. That is the place where glass magic is created. The power bill to create the heat in the ovens for a day is more than the price most of us pay for our homes for a month. It takes an incredible amount of energy to maintain temperatures of 2900-3100 degrees Fahrenheit. Florida sometimes feels hot enough to melt things but on the worse days the inside of a car gets to 120.

When the furnace is going and the glass works are being created by an artist, on any good size piece it is never done alone.  There are a team of people required to work the glass.  On a recent demonstration that I witnessed there were at least 4 people that helped in the process to create a piece.  The artist is not just a visionary, they are the technician and the team leader orchestrating a process that could not be done solo.

Join the glass art world.

When you look at the cost of some of the art and you think, “it’s a lot”.  You have no idea of the cost of creation involved.  The skill and effort required is at master craftsmen level. It takes a lot of dollars to create some of these pieces.   Investments in glass works are as solid as the artist and their work. It is value and passion for beauty that drive it.

The glass art world is easily joined when you know how it is done by seeing it. You must understand the real cost and what the work involved is. The best place in the USA to see it, learn it and understand the true art form is at the Duncan McClellan Gallery in St. Petersburg Florida.  The work is world class glass and Duncan is a character you will learn from and admire for his creativity. In my limited interview time, I sure have.

The big story is always giving back.

Duncan McClellan started the DMG School Project in 2013. This is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The purpose of it is to provide education through school programming, classes, demonstrations and outreach to children of all grade levels. This is done by taking a Mobile Glass Furnace to the school and having on site demonstrations with an actual glass blowing experience for the participants.

This education has a tremendous impact on the students and teaches them critical thinking and problem solving skills as well as exposes them to physics, math, science, art and history.  More than 150,000 students have had the opportunity to observe this art form.

Getting experience and skills!

The DMG School Artist-­In-­Residence program presents an intense, month long educational opportunity for up and coming glass artists. Artists are challenged to stretch their creative boundaries and produce creations that stand out. Furthermore,they get the full use of the hot shop and sometimes, Duncans mind.  Working with other artists they can master new techniques, plus share and experiment with glass in ways they could never on their own. Drawing on the hub experience of Duncan McClellan Gallery they also learn necessary business and management skills. As making a living as a glass artist isn’t taught in most schools.

Funday Saturday every 3rd one.

Open to any age or level. Come in for glass etching classes at the Duncan McClellan Art Gallery that are held regularly, currently on the 3rd Saturday of every month.

The Gallery welcomes guests Monday – Saturday 10A to 5p

Duncan wants to spread the passion he found as a 5 year old child for Glass Art! (Glass Magic) The gallery is free to anyone to come see. Donations are accepted to help fund the non-profit school.  If you bring any “younger” kids they must be controlled. The exquisite art is not behind barriers and the value is very high. Seriously, I would carry my child or hold their hand at all times, Just a heads up to you.

If you want to see some of the best glass art on earth and support Duncan’s visionary work Go visit them at 2342 Emerson Ave. South in St Petersburg FL 33712

Duncan McClellan has been awarded the “ART INDUSTRY LEADERSHIP AWARD” for ST. Petersburg  2019 by FLSUNNEWS.COM.