Local artist transforms glass into inspiring images

When Mark Klevemann looks at a piece of glass, he doesn't just see a clear surface.He envisions images of birds, flowers and butterflies reflecting through to create a piece of art.

For the past 17 years, Klevemann has made a living creating glass art.His interest in art dates back to his days at Fremont High School when he enrolled in several art courses.After high school, he took on various jobs from silversmithing to remodeling work.

But his interests were still tied to glass and the art world.

"There is something about it that's always attracted me," Klevemann said.

The Fremont native operates a studio out of his Omaha home. What begins as a plain, clear piece of glass leaves Klevemann's studio as an intricate and detailed work of art.

A sample of his glass art is on display through June 30 at Gallery 92 West in Fremont.

By using sandblasting, Klevemann carves and etches images into glass. After developing an idea for a piece, he draws the image, cuts it out and creates a stencil.

"Once I have the stencil, I'm ready to blast," he said.

Then Klevemann decides what type of technique he wants to use — etching or deep carving — or a combination of the two.

"A bunch of variables go into the process," he said. "There are a lot of options."

The artist said it is a basic process, somewhat similar to how monument companies create an image on a marker. But the results are anything but basic.

With the different effects etching, carving, frosting and shading have on the glass, a soft, often three-dimensional image, is left behind.

The time involved in specific pieces can vary greatly. Pieces in the show range from about 8-by-10 to a few that are as large as a door. The time entailed in developing an idea and then drawing it on paper can be extensive.

"If I don't like it, I'll change it," Klevemann said. "I might go back and forth several times."

Before sandblasting on a piece of glass, it must be cleaned gently and handled with care.

"Those big pieces are pretty expensive stuff," Klevemann said.

There is also little room for error in the sandblasting process.

"If you mess something up, it's pretty much there for good," he said.

Klevemann has experimented with using colors in his art pieces. A particular piece in his show at the art association depicts a rose with brightly colored red petals and green leaves. But the work required for the color process was more than he anticipated.

The colors had to be rubbed in by hand, dried and sealed.

"It took more time than the entire process of stenciling and sandblasting," Klevemann said.

Because Klevemann doesn't operate a storefront, a majority of the work he completes is subcontracted out through glass companies in Fremont, Elkhorn and Omaha. He said he's worked with all kinds of people and on an abundance of projects.

Residential projects often involve mirrors and shower doors. Many area residents may have viewed one of Klevemann's art pieces without realizing it.

A few pieces appear in cars of the Fremont Dinner Train, another small piece in the maternity ward at Fremont Area Medical Center. A couple of the pieces borrowed for the show can normally be found at the doctor's offices of Thomas McKnight and Evelyn McKnight.

Klevemann created large glass panels for the conference room of Valmont Industries' office complex in Omaha, and a commercial airing, which depicts the remodeling efforts at Clarkson Hospital in Omaha, shows large glass wall partitions of ivy leaves done by Klevemann in the background.

Klevemann likes receiving feedback about his pieces, but he doesn't always hear anything back unless there's something wrong with it.

"I think most everybody is pretty happy ... They're pretty surprised by what you can do with glass," Klevemann said. "Just about anything's possible, if you can think about it and afford it."

Klevemann's exhibit at Gallery 92 West, "Images In Glass," is his first solo show. A few years ago, he exhibited with some area artists at the Noyes Gallery in Lincoln. His goal is get more pieces out in Omaha galleries and continue to do what he loves.

Hours for Gallery 92 West of the Fremont Area Art Association, 92 W. Sixth St., are 1-4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is free.

Klevemann will serve as the docent at the gallery this Saturday, so those who stop by will have the opportunity to visit with him.

600450 Local artist transforms glass into inspiring images glassonweb.com
Date: 18 June 2004
Source: Fremontneb.com

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