CORNING | What began as an idea to just get more locals in the door at the Corning Museum of Glass has now lasted 20 years.
The museum will hold the 20th anniversary 2300 Degrees event, "Fire and Ice," Thursday at the usual time, from 6-8 p.m.
CMoG Senior Director of Creative Strategy and Audience Engagement Rob Cassetti recalled the origins of the event.
"In 1999, the Museum opened a major expansion," Casetti said. "And one of the things we saw was that people were very, very interested in it, but we were really not seeing people from our local community coming to explore the new museum and see what it was all about.
"So, we thought it would be good to have what we later thought of as a "door-opener" program that was free, open to the public, and felt unexpected."
They focused on that "unexpected" element to draw interest, he said.
"It was an experience that they would not necessarily have associated with The Corning Museum of Glass at the time," he said.
He noted after he came up with the name for the event, it was his wife that designed the logo.
He said the tone and mood of the event came from memories of his own life.
"I thought back to art school and what it was like going to a glass studio in the evening where music is playing loud and there’s a keg of beer and I wondered -- you know, could we do that at The Corning Museum of Glass?," Casetti said. "And so, in February of 2000, we had our first 2300°."
Not long after that first 2300°, which drew about 120 people, he noted that the Star-Gazette ran an almost bemused story about the event. "A museum as a local hotspot?" was the headline.
The monthly music and glass gatherings now regularly draw many times that first crowd.
Thursday’s event will feature glass artist Janusz Pozniak, a finalist from the Netflix glassblowing reality show "Blown Away," who is in the midst of a week of live demonstrations in CMoG’s massive Amphitheater Hot Shop -- a venue which wasn’t even dreamed of when the first 2300 Degrees was held.
Pozniak said he’s been inspired to work on something he tried long ago and couldn’t quite execute.
"Whenever you are spending time at an institution like the Museum, it's really time to focus on hopefully going down an avenue you've never been before or otherwise really honing in an idea you already have," he said. "I came up with this idea years and years and years ago, like 15 years ago. I was teaching in Australia and I went to this beach on an island. It was a coral beach, the beach is all coral with fragments of coral everywhere. I was just fascinated by the cross section of the coral. And so I went back to my studio and made these murrine canes and I made a little dish out of them -- and they looked terrible."
Because of that, he’ll be working on the very edge of his craft during his demonstration Thursday night, rather than planning to wow the audience with a piece he’s made a dozen times.
"I am going to be doing one of these big murrine pieces, making this big amorphous bean-shaped object," Pozniak said. "We’ve been prototyping today [Tuesday] to get the shape and the form down to be very smooth. A bean is a bean; there are no sharp edges, curvaceous soft form, and to just get sort of that flowing linear form is quite tricky."
Thursday’s 2300° will also feature The Silver Arrow Band, which offers a wide range of musical styles from jazz and swing to contemporary hits.
And to bring the "Fire and Ice" theme together, activities won’t be confined to the indoor areas at the museum, with ice sculptures, drumming circles, an outdoor bar, fire pits and ice carving planned in the courtyard outside the entrance (by the gift shop area).
For more information about the museum, artist Janusz Pozniak or 2300 Degrees, go online to cmog.org.
[Note: This story has been updated to reflect that Rob Casetti came up with the name for 2300 Degrees, while his wife designed the logo for the event. Also, artist Janusz Pozniak should have an ascending accent ´ above the "z" in his last name. However, it won’t appear correctly on our site due to a font issue.]