Brien Strancar

Brien Strancar

Glass Artist

June 6, 2013


Toledo Museum of Art Glass Pavilion


Meet Brien Strancar, one of Toledo's great glass artists and northwest Ohio enthusiasts. Brien didn't realize his passion for blowing glass until late into his college career. With a degree in digital art, Brien has dabbled in graphic design, set design, and has worked on large-scale projects like murals. But the hotshop at the Toledo Museum of Art's Glass Pavilion is one of the likely places you'll find Brien. This creative native is grateful for the city's vibrant arts scene, and never takes for granted the fact that he does what he loves for a living.

Tell us more about some of your past projects? 
In the past I’ve done a little bit of everything including murals, graphic design, set design, and just about everything else. As a glass artist, I have been annually involved with the production of limited edition holiday goblets and ornaments for the TMA for the last few years. More recently, I had two designs selected for the second phase of the Arts Commission’s Artist Designed Bike Racks.

What current projects are you working on? 
Currently, the most important thing that I am working on is my own work. I’m really trying to beef up my portfolio and to develop a body of work that is gallery worthy. I’m also working on an on going, long-term project of putting together my own cold shop – so acquiring tools and equipment. I have a great free-lance gig continuing right now where I am doing some engraving for an internationally known glass artist.

What advantages does being in Northwest Ohio/Toledo offer your efforts? 
This area is the birthplace of the modern studio glass movement so it offers a lot! The TMA is a great resource due to their massive collection of glass as well as the state of the art studio facility. It offers a great base of operations for many local glass blowers, including myself. In addition to the museum, Toledo has a great glass community and there are plenty of other glass people to network with. This area has a lot of history in glass and those ties to the past continue to offer good opportunities. The larger arts scene is also really great.  I think its amazing that we have such an active and involved Arts Commission and that the city really gets behind the arts. This area is also a fantastic hub for travel and communication, a few hours in any direction and you can be in the biggest cities or some of the most beautiful farmland and forest in the country.

Tell us about one of your greatest successes. 
One of my greatest successes has been to do what I really love as a career in the real world. It’s easy to imagine yourself as an artist but when there are bills, and rent, and fun to have the reality of that life can be harsh. I feel very fortunate to be able to do something that I love and have great passion for. It is a wonderful thing when your career doesn’t feel like work.

Tell us who or what gives you inspiration? 
I am inspired by nature and the beauty of the natural world. I am also inspired by history, and the artists and objects that come from antiquity. Lately, I find myself more inspired by the events and causes that incite people to action and to change. These things inspire action and change in my own thinking and in how I ascribe meaning to my art. They also provide a timely subject for some of my work. For example, I am very interested in the fight for GMO regulations, gun control, internet privacy issues, copyright laws, hydraulic fracturing and the environment and I am using this as inspiration for imagery and content.

Tell us about your background. 
I have always wanted to have a career in art. When I was younger I saw myself as an animator drawing Bugs Bunny cartoons. In college, at Bowling Green State University, I started out by studying Graphic Design, but shortly switched to Digital Art. I thought that a career as a 3D animator was more realistic as the Disney Pixar partnership was really heating up at the time.  Then, I discovered glass. I realized my heart was never really in Digital Art.  It was too late to change majors again so I did what I needed to do to finish.  I spent so much time in the hotshop, instead of the computer lab, that I had to beg for a passing grade to graduate. So, my diploma says Digital Art but my true passion is glass.

Do you have a motto or favorite quote you try to live by? 
I don’t think this is a real quote from any one except me but I like to live by “do whatever makes you happy, as long as it doesn’t interfere with someone else’s happiness.” I also tend to say, “Not my chair, not my problem.”  That one is from some goofy YouTube video.


Favorite place for local culture?
Fifth-Third Field!  What’s more American than baseball and what’s more Toledo than the Mudhens.

Toledo’s “best kept secret” is . . .
Black Kite Coffee and Pies.

My favorite place to chill locally is . . . 
Around the fire pit with friends.

My favorite natural space in the Toledo area is . . . 
Oak Openings Preserve, especially the Northern section of the Boyscout (yellow) trail where the oak savannah gives way to sand dunes and a stand of pine trees.

When I’m not working hard, I can always be found at . . . 
The glass studio at the glass pavilion, down in the basement coldworking.

If you could change anything about the current landscape for creative, progressive people . . .
I would pour tons of funding into the arts and education. I know that STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) is the big thing in education but it should absolutely be STEAM (A for art). The arts were always a big part of my education and I was very lucky to go to school in a district that had arts in the classroom and even an arts-based magnet middle school. I couldn’t imagine being a kid today and having no art or music classes in school.  It’s a crime, children can really benefit from the arts. I credit my public education with forming the foundations for my interest in the arts. The other thing that I would do for the creative people would be to improve the economy in some magical way so that people can afford to buy art, to support the arts and other progressive thinkers. These things are a luxury for most and with a weak economy people have no choice but to pay for the things they need and pass on the luxury items.

Any exciting collaborations (past or present) you would like to tell us about? 
Nothing serious, except trying new ideas with friends in the hotshop.

Name one person (living or deceased) who you would love to collaborate with. 
Andy Warhol.

Name a CD, book or website you can’t live without.

3 words that best describe me or my work are . . .
Bold, witty, colorful

Give us 5 Desert Island Album picks. 
Sublime, Self Titled

311, Blue Album

311, Music

Red Hot Chili Peppers, One Hot Minute

Kanye West, College Dropout

My biggest vice is . . .

I’d like to see _________ in Toledo.
A grocery store downtown.

What’s the last dream you recall having? 
The part I remember most clearly of a recent dream is that of an unrealistically large red tailed hawk giving me a very stern look of disapproval.  I woke up wondering what it was that I had done to disappoint that majestic raptor.

The last lyric that moved me was . . .
“When everyone else
Is more comfortable
Remaining voiceless
Rather than fighting for humans
That have had their rights stolen
I might not be the same
But that's not important
No freedom til we're equal
Damn right I support it”

-Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, “Same Love”

One movie character I identify with is . . .
Peter from Office Space because he does whatever he wants.

The best gift I’ve ever received was . . .
A tattoo. My wife was tired of hearing about me getting one so she got me a gift certificate that I was happy to use

My most inspiring moment was/is . . .
Getting the nod of approval from a rock star in my field to cold work his pieces.

I want my last meal to be…
Lamb Shank from the Beirut, a Packo Dog, 3 tacos de lengua from San Marcos, a Dutch baby from the Original Pancake House for desert and a Senior Reed from the OT to wash it all down.



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