Best Of Tucson®

Best Art Superhero

Tom Philabaum

Acclaimed glass artist Tom Philabaum has long been a glass-art hero, mentoring artists, helping start the Sonoran Glass Art Academy, doing demos in his fiery "glory hole" and showcasing art in his gallery. But SB 1070 did a number on him. He'd spent several years organizing an international glass-arts conference that would have brought thousands of visitors—and hundreds of thousands of dollars—to Tucson for a celebration of Latino glass art. When the anti-immigrant bill passed in 2010, the Glass Art Society canceled. Undeterred, Philabaum donned his metaphorical superhero cape, and went out and saved Gotham. Enlisting the major galleries and museums, he organized a homegrown celebration of glass art in all its many forms. And he gave the extravaganza a Spanish name: ¡Viva el Vidrio! Long live glass. And long live Philabaum.

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