September 1, 2010
By Leslie Rowe-Israelson
The East Kootenays of British Columbia is home to a thriving glass community . You cannot travel to Invermere, B.C. without being influenced by the diverse art cultural scene, especially glass art. Glass blowing studios, flameworking studios, galleries and home-based kiln casting glass studios are an inspiration and a destination for many glass artists from across Canada.
One of these artists is Leslie Rowe-Israelson. Leslie and her twin sister, Melanie Rowe, have been creating in glass for the past 28 years. She moved to Invermere in 1998 from Jasper, Alberta, and has enjoyed the creative spirit carrying her to many parts of the world teaching and helping other artists to design and complete their kiln cast glass ideas. She feels very blessed to have been able to create one-of-a-kind sculptural pieces in glass, and wanted to share this experience. For years the twins traveled and taught at many world class schools such as Pilchuck Glass School, The Corning Museum of Glass Studio program, and Red Deer College in Alberta, just to name a few.
The last two years have presented a new challenge for the artist as she was diagnosed with cancer. But instead of curling up and quietly going away, she embarked on a project to help others heal through art. Hence the “Drifting Leaves” world project was born. It got her out of bed everyday and became a healing tool for many artists around the world. She was the recipient of the GAAC Project Grant in 2009, which helped her to complete the project and hence get well in mind and spirit.
Leslie was also the recipient of a Major Projects Grant from the Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance in 2009. The project was called “ROMANCING MOUNTAIN LANDSCAPES” and her goal was to create 10 large glass panels in a new and innovative abstract colour bar technique. Uroboros Glass Company in Portland, Oregon invited the twins down to their studio factory where they created 4 of the 10 large panels. The rest were created in her home based studio. It was such a gift to be able to take some time off and do some research and development of a new technique in which she had been dabbling for years, and to have the financial assistance to actually achieve her goal.
Special thanks to K. Leah Duperreault, one of GAAC’s two regional representatives for the province of British Columbia. Currently living in the town of Invermere, BC she plans to regularly contribute articles about talented glass artists in the Columbia Valley.