By Summer Aguirre
Glassblower Newt Grover has one objective, and that is to add to the magnificence of the world around him with his creations.
Through his Scottsdale-based company, Newt Glass, Grover produces and installs custom glass art for residential and commercial spaces across the country. The self-taught glassblower only wants to make one statement with his art, and that is beauty.
“Beauty is important, and art and aesthetics is important, because it just bumps up the energy or the vibration of the world and people. It’s just helpful,” he says. “There are studies on how you don’t even have to be aware that you’re looking at artwork to get a good, positive effect from it.”
Described as a “well-directed pyromaniac” by his mother, all of the work Grover has done throughout his life results in two common denominators: fire and art.
His artistic pursuits began in high school when he started making jewelry, with which he built a successful career of nearly 15 years. His focus shifted to neon around the age of 30, several years before he realized the possibilities that glassblowing presented.
“I saw a program on PBS and I thought it was the coolest thing I ever saw in my life,” Grover says. “So I figured out how to build a studio and learned how to blow glass, because there was nothing here in town at that time, as far as glass went.”
What began as a hobby ultimately morphed into his business, Newt Glass, in the late 1990s.
In his 20 years of operation, Grover estimates that he has made several thousand wall plates, a couple hundred chandeliers, and as many as 10 projects embellishing entire residential or commercial spaces.
He completes around 10 to 15 large-scale projects annually, and, depending on the piece, some of his art can take up to a few months to finish.
Walking through Grover’s home studio, called a “hot shop” spanning between 1,200 to 1,500 square feet, one can see that he likes to work on several projects at once.
A few vibrant, delicate hand-blown glass pieces heavily contrast with the dusty surfaces of his workspace, which will come together to create a variety of chandeliers, metal and glass sculptures, wall displays or even pendants.
A massive glass rainbow tornado dangling from the ceiling is an eye-catcher. Despite being an inanimate object, the piece captures an element of movement.
“The big rainbow tornado, it’s about half-done. We’re going to need some more parts, but it’s coming out really great,” he says. “I’ve got an octopus chandelier, and then another jellyfish, for a house in St. Augustine, Florida. So we’re doing more aquatic-themed stuff.”
Many of Grover’s customers give him a significant amount of freedom in the design of the pieces for their spaces, which he enjoys immensely. However, he often collaborates with interior designers to help him integrate his art into their designs.
“I like stuff that is the ‘wow’ factor, the big statement thing,” he says. “But I want it to look like it’s seamless, like it belongs there. It’s not just some random thing that somebody put up.”
As far as the impact that his pieces have on viewers, Grover feels that his job is to simply provide the artwork and let others form their own opinions and interpretations based on their individual experiences.
“I don’t want to color that by naming it, explaining it or anything. It either is going to speak to you or not, and I don’t feel like I have the right to explain or tell people what to think about my work,” he says.
Grover, who likes the challenge of a big, complex piece, didn’t give much thought to the effect of his work on others until creating a large glass cactus garden for El Paso Children’s Hospital in Texas.
It took him and his team a week to install the piece, and during that time he encountered many people in awe of his work. In an environment that some may not want to find themselves in, the cactus garden brightened the days of many passersby.
“Now I’m much more cognizant of what kind of feeling I want to produce with the work,” he says. “That can vary depending on its purpose, where it’s at — commercial, residential, whatever. So I’m very cognizant of that right now, and I’m pretty good at modifying the look, the energy or the feeling of the piece to fit that better.”
Regardless of his art’s purpose, it all comes down to adding to the universe’s splendor.
For more information about Newt Glass, call 480-405-1440 or visit newtglass.com.