EYE CANDY FOR THE SOUL

by JEANNE DE LATHOUDER / photography by HOLGER OBENAUS

David Patchen, Foglio, blown glass, 19″ x 12″ x 3.5″

Barbara kittrell and her husband, david, have long been captivated by the magical art of glassmaking. They opened their first stained glass studio in the Olla Podrida in North Dallas in 1980, where they taught classes, sold supplies and specialized in custom architectural leaded glass. In 1990, expanding on their love for the medium, they partnered with Michael Riffkind to establish a gallery specializing in contemporary art glass—now widely considered to be one of the most renowned art glass galleries in the country. In 1995, Kittrell/Riffkind Art Glass expanded again, moving to the Village on the Parkway in Addison. In 2014, Riffkind retired from the business, and in 2016, the Kittrells relocated again, this time separating gallery and studio into two locations.

Before this latest move, the gallery and the studio had a very synergistic relationship, where visitors could see tools, materials, finished works and works in progress in the same space. Now, David Kittrell operates the full-service art glass studio in a new location in Richardson. There, he and his team continue to create custom stained and leaded glass to fit any architectural or artistic style and carry the largest assortment of glass stock available in North Texas.

Mariel Bass, Circle Game, blown and hot sculpted glass, 21″ x 15″ x 9″

Barbara Kittrell has now moved the gallery to its current home and merged operations with Bob Malenfant at Southwest Gallery, one of Dallas’ oldest and most esteemed fine art galleries. She has been immersed in curating exceptional work from contemporary North American glassmakers for more than 30 years.

“We just love our new location,” says Barbara Kittrell. “We’re in a 16,000-square-foot facility located in North Dallas with our sister gallery—Southwest Gallery. It has been providing artwork to discriminating art buyers in Dallas for more than 50 years as well. We’re a destination now—people visit from all over. When people come in to browse the galleries, they are in for a really special treat because they’re getting to see original paintings, bronzes and sculpture, as well as our extensive selection of art glass treasures.”

Jason Marstall, Agua, hot-sculpted and carved glass, 20″ x 5.5″ x 5″

Featuring an ever-changing selection of exquisite and innovative work by more than 300 glass artists, the Kittrell/Riffkind Art Glass gallery offers an impressive array of art glass, including sculpture, vessels, goblets, wall art, paperweights, jewelry and many other one-of-a-kind treasures.

“There are a myriad of techniques that can be employed to work with glass, and there’s a lot of really creative things going on in the glass world right now—lots of really talented artists,” says Kittrell. “When visitors come to the gallery, we like to tell them about the artists and educate them about how pieces are made. It gives them a better understanding and appreciation for the glass.”

John Littleton and Kate Vogel, Succulent, cast and coldworked glass, 6.75″ x 19.75″ x 8″

When asked how she finds new artists to show in the gallery, Kittrell laughs. “Well, it’s changed a lot since the early days before we were widely known,” she says. “Artists were more reluctant to work with us then because we were new. Nowadays, artists from all over the country contact us about showing their work in the gallery. We are always looking for talented people making innovative and outstanding glass.”

Asked if she has a favorite artist, Kittrell responds: “Oh, my goodness, no. We have become such close friends with so many of them over the years and consider them part of our gallery family—that would be like picking a favorite child!”

Manifest, hot sculpted and carved glass, 9.5″ x 7″ x 6″; Yield, hot sculpted and carved glass, 13.5″ x 5.5″ x 4″

With new exhibits every four to six weeks throughout the year, the Kittrell/Riffkind Art Glass gallery is constantly changing and offering visitors something new and inspiring to see. The gallery receives new work almost every day. This past October, they celebrated the gallery’s 30th anniversary with a special exhibit, entitled One of a Kind. The show featured custom work created by many of the Kittrells’ favorite artists over the past 30 years. A portion of the proceeds were donated to the North Texas Food Bank.

“My favorite part of this business is working with the people—our clients and our artists,” says Kittrell. “Glass is such a magical medium. It’s eye candy for the soul.” *

Jeanne de Lathouder currently resides in Birmingham, Alabama, where she works as a freelance writer for books and publications across the country. Contact her at jdelathouder@gmail.com.