Glassically beautiful

Glass art studio brightens community

Stained-glass pieces hang in the window of Prairie Studio glass on Sargent Avenue.

Photo by Callie Lugosi

Prairie Studio Glass glitters on the corner of Sargent Avenue and Sherbrook Street in the West End. The glass art studio, founded in 1978 by Lucinda Doran and Brian McMillan, focuses on producing quality art while also giving back to the community.

Following Doran’s retirement last summer, her son Matthew McMillan now leads the studio, but he says “we don’t advertise ourselves as individual artists. We are Prai- rie Studio Glass.”

The Prairie Studio Glass building contains a store, a classroom where they teach courses on glass art and a full artist studio.

The store sells “everything you need to do glass as a hobbyist or artist,” Matthew McMillan says. The studio is where they create original or commissioned pieces, as well as where they restore older windows.

The Winnipeg Gallery at the Manitoba Museum features a restored stained-glass window from the old Winnipeg city hall. “The sheer size of that window crushed itself slowly over time,” McMillan says, but artists at Prairie Studio Glass were able to maintain the quality of the window and managed to keep all the original glass pieces except for one.

At Prairie Studio Glass, they also teach courses on fused and stained glass for different skill levels, offering six-week intensives or one-day workshops.

“We’ve designed the classes to be accommodating to anybody,” McMillan says. The classroom and the workstations are wheelchair accessible, and the courses have been made available to blind or deaf students.

“The classic studio mentality has always been to be very guarded about all the information that you have developed over the years, and to give that information to someone off the street is obviously a lit- tle troubling for most studios. (But now) we’re focusing on producing well-designed artwork and setting the bar for Canada in glass art,” McMillan says.

Despite the fact that they create an expensive art form, Prairie Studio Glass strives to make their art accessible and give back to the community. “We renovated in the last three years to bring more of a street-side presence,” McMillan says. They painted their art studio “white, so the art pops from the street side.”

Every Christmas, the studio creates a limited-edition ornament.

“They are all handcrafted and numbered,” McMillan says. “Every penny goes to a local charity. This year, we raised $4,500 for House of Hesed (which provides supportive housing for people living with HIV/AIDS). In past years, they have fundraised for Agape Table and West Broadway Youth Outreach.

Moe Feakes, the executive director of House of Hesed, says “We live on a shoestring every month. That is a huge, huge gift to us.”

Feakes says McMillan described last year’s Inukshuk ornament as “standing on a hill, looking to home. That strikes a chord with me, because we offer home here.”

“This is our community,” McMillan says. “(Our first shop was) at Victor, and then we moved to this shop 30 years ago. We love it. We like to think that we (are a) little beacon of artistry and beautiful things.”

Prairie Studio Glass is located at 587 Sargent Ave.

Published in Volume 74, Number 15 of The Uniter (January 23, 2020)

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