We had the good fortune of connecting with Pat Isaacson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Pat, can you think back and share with us a life experience that you feel has had a significant impact on you?
Several years ago I was a widow with two small children, working in the IT industry. My job required working at odd hours to take advantage of the datacenter in downtown Chicago. I often had to find reliable childcare when I worked the midnight to 6:00 am shift. It was difficult for me to participate in the school and sports functions with my children. I had the opportunity to work with an independent contractor where I could work from home and name my hours. It would mean I could be at home for the boys and work on-site only when they were in school. The only problem was that there was no guaranteed income. I would need to quit my regular job and make a commitment to establish my own business. It was a difficult decision, but I did quit my job and began working for myself. This was the beginning of a long career as P.I. Consultants, and it served me well. This decision changed my life because it gave me the confidence to take risks, which carried over to the rest of my life, including my most recent journey as a glass artist.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
The wonderful thing about fusing glass is that there are so many different techniques and so many ways to use them. There are several other glass artists in our community and we each have our own style. I began my career as a glass artist when I was semi-retired from the computer business. When I first started I just wanted to learn how to fuse glass. I had no aspirations to start a business – I just loved glass art. I soon discovered that I had no more room for my glass pieces and started selling them. (My friends and relatives were very helpful.) Then a friend introduced me to a couple who were opening a gallery in Carefree and I put pieces in their gallery. Since then I have entered pieces in many shows and you can find my work at the Gallery at El Pedregal. I also show my work in my studio and teach classes. I’ve been told that my mathematics background shows up in my work. I enjoy making pieces that take patience and involve lots of cutting and reworking before the final result. A few years ago I took a workshop from Richard Parrish, a former architect who is now a well-known glass artist. In this workshop I learned his tapestry technique and it immediately appealed to my mathematical background. I have used his teachings to make my own tapestries, and these have become the main focus in my art. I love making the tapestry pieces because there are so many decisions to make along the way that determine the look of the final piece. It’s always a surprise when I open the kiln, and usually a good surprise.. In the meantime I have experimented with many other techniques which can be challenging and keeps it fun for me. I love glass fusing because there is always some new technique to try which satisfies my need to create and my love of learning new things.
Most recently I find that keeping up with Social Media and my Website takes more time than I expected. In the days of Covid-19 I’m pretty much confined to my studio, and besides exploring my glass art, I’m involved in taking video workshops to learn new techniques and meeting remotely with other artists in Kirby Plessas’s Zoom meetings to discuss various topics related to the business of art.
If you had friends coming to visit, what are some of your favorite spots to share with them?
If they are here for an entire week we would drive to the Grand Canyon, eat dinner and stay overnight in the El Tovar Hotel and do some hiking and exploring before returning home. If they are shoppers we have the best shopping available anywhere. We would take a trip to Fashion Square and spend a few hours there. Then walk over the canal to eat at the Barrio Queen, one of my favorites. Another day would be spent visiting the Phoenix Art Museum and the Heard Museum, followed by a meal at China Chili’s on Flower street. We’d do that on a Thursday and would end up in Scottsdale for the Thursday night art walk. Another day would be spent touring the Boyce Thompson Arboretum where the newly transferred Wallace Desert Garden is installed in a beautiful setting. We would take a picnic lunch and eat at the garden. On that trip we can take the dogs! In between these trips we would spend time in our pool and enjoying our beautiful yard, designed by my fiance’, Lee Brownson.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My fiance’, Lee Brownson and I began our relationship about the same time as I began taking classes in fused glass. He has always encouraged me, not laughing at my first gifts to him of fused glass plates and bowls (although I look at them now and laugh). Without Lee I would not be able to enter shows – he helps me load up the car with tables, display stands and glass, and he’s always there with me to help with the setup and break down. He attends the openings of shows with me and doesn’t complain. Most of all, he comes to my studio to admire my latest work and gives me encouragement when I need it. When we decided to buy a house together he was willing to give me the detached guest house as my studio. My business has grown because of this. I have enough space to display my art and also to teach classes. My studio has been part of the “Hidden in the Hills” art tour for the past six years. I also want to thank my friends who came to my home shows and bought my work back in the days before I had my glass in shows and galleries. Finally, I thank the Sonoran Arts League for giving me the opportunity to meet other artists and to be involved in the Gallery at El Pedregal, the “Hidden in the Hills” tour and other activities at the Center for the Arts.
Lee Brownson Dennis DesProis Pat Isaacson
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