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Student opens glass shop, hopes community members will ‘get hooked’

Downtown’s new glass shop, Chico Valley Gallery, has a map with pins stuck in each location where it gets its art from, according to Mike Calnan, owner and Chico State senior business management major, pictured left. Photo credit: Veronica Hodur

When walking through the glass doors at Chico Valley Gallery in downtown Chico, customers will see artwork unlike any other found in town, including colorful, abstract geometric paintings, glass orbs with oceanic scenes and glass dream catcher pendants.

Chico Valley Gallery features pipes, inverted paintings and other “nonfunctional” works, such as pendants and wine stoppers. The shop, nestled between Peet’s Coffee & Tea and Woodstock’s Pizza, will have its grand opening and raffle at 5 p.m. Friday.

A sampling of the artwork displayed at Chico Valley Gallery, located downtown between Peet’s Coffee & Tea and Woodstock’s Pizza. Photo credit: Veronica Hodur

The glass shop is the brainchild of Mike Calnan, a senior business management major who recently transferred to Chico State from Central Connecticut State University. The idea developed during a trip to Long Beach for a Marble Masters tournament, where Calnan was exposed to the culture of glass experts.

The tournament, which features the best glass marble artists from around the world, was a captivating experience for Calnan because he was able to talk to different artists about their work, he said.

“They were more excited to tell you about the artists next to them,” he said. “I thought that was really cool … the industry worked (together) like that, instead of trying to push their art out there.”

This philosophy ties into the main purpose of the shop: to spread the culture and appreciation of glass artwork.

“There is a whole culture that comes along with the glass industry,” Calnan said. “I really don’t know how to describe it, but (that) it exists and that you have to be a part of it. Once you buy your first glass art item, you almost get hooked and you can’t help but want more and more.”

Two oceanic scenes inside of glass orbs available for purchase at Chico Valley Gallery. Photo credit: Veronica Hodur

Calnan, who is also a curator of the shop, said the bulk of his collection started with glass pipes when he lived on the East Coast. However, it hasn’t been easy getting the community to accept the pipes as an art form.

“When people think of pipes, it’s really a turn off, ’cause they don’t understand that there is art in them,” Calnan said. “There has been a movement of the artist struggling to really get recognition for the art they made because there is a pipe in it.”

Those who are interested in viewing the shop’s glass pipes can find them in a partitioned section.

One of the more exquisite pieces is a black and white cartoon skull. It is composed of black and white squares that the artists created from a sphere of glass and painstakingly broke apart and styled inside the skull.

A blown glass sculpture created by artists Glass Munky and Devin Somerville, featured at Chico Valley Gallery. Photo credit: Veronica Hodur

Chico Valley Gallery also features inverted art pieces by Haven Art Live Group, a local group of artists who paint live during shows. Often, the group’s artwork reflects the environment around its artists.

One of its more unusual sets in the gallery is an inverted painting that transforms into another piece of art when viewed under a phone’s inverted photo setting.

A painting by Haven Art Live Group that uses inverted colors to show the Earth in space. This piece, along with others by the local art group, is on display at Chico Valley Gallery. Photo credit: Veronica Hodur

Calnan is hoping that community members “get hooked” on the artwork at Chico Valley Gallery.

“We have been getting a really good response so far,” Calnan said. “Everyone who has walked through that door hasn’t really known what they were getting into. It’s hard not to look over things and be amazed.”

A pendant similar in style to the marble that will be raffled at Chico Valley Gallery’s grand opening 5 p.m. Friday. Tickets for the raffle can be bought at the shop. Photo credit: Veronica Hodur

Kristen Moran can be reached at [email protected] or @kristenvmoran on Twitter.

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