Bella Forte: Loud and Strong

27 Jan

When one has lived and traveled all over the world, one has the tendency to overlook things in her own backyard.  What could possibly compare to the green glens of Ireland, the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia, the crystal coves of Kwajalein, or the serenity of the Serengeti?  

Coming to OKC nearly three years ago, I was beginning to assume I had seen everything the area had to offer in the first couple of months.  Cowboy Museum?  Check.  Route 66 Round Barn?  Check.  Bombing Memorial?  Check.  City Art Museum?  Check. One can browse the antique shops of Guthrie just so often, and the art fairs–while pretty good–only occur a couple of times a year.  One certainly doesn’t expect to find Murano, Italy, without hopping a couple of planes and shelling out a couple of thousand bucks.

But for a quick drive into downtown Edmond at little to no cost at all, Murano, Italy–or its American translation–is waiting, humbly and unassuming, at the Bella Forte Glass Blowing Studio.  Here, father and son glass artists Chris and Micah McGahan will blow your mind with the inimitable objets d’art they coax into existence with just a puff on a blowpipe and a twist of a cane or a rod.  What emerges from the “glory hole” of the kiln is glowing testament to their God-given talent, and the McGahans are quick to deflect that glory back to God even in casual conversation.

Moreover, they will kindly allow you to watch as they work, and, if you’re hungry, treat you to classic Italian cuisine (for a modest price, of course) at Italian Jim’s, the family-owned restaurant attached to their studio and named for Chris’ father-in-law.  Here family recipes (from the Italian side, not the Irish, of course) fired in the pizza ovens rival the glassware as works of art, according to countless satisfied customers since 1996.

The Chihuly glass collection at the City Art Museum downtown can’t compete with that.  And impressive as that more famous exhibit may be, Bella Forte lives up to its name, loud and strong.  Chris doesn’t need–or want–to travel to Murano, though he has studied with some of the best glassblowers in the world right here in the US.  I would be hard pressed to distinguish a McGahan from a Chihuly, though I admit I am just an aficionado.  What makes these creations even more lovely to me is the evidence of the Creator reflected in every piece.  One doesn’t need to hear Chris’ apt allegories to recognize the spirituality shining through, though it was gratifying to speak with Chris about his faith and listen to his testimony.  I didn’t even need to speak Italian.  

Check out the website yourself:  http://bellaforteglass.com or stop by 13 S. Broadway in downtown Edmond.  That’s in Oklahoma.  Who’d have thought?

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One Response to “Bella Forte: Loud and Strong”

  1. Joan Lattimore Hockman January 31, 2013 at 2:20 am #

    In September of 2010, John’s sister and I went to Holland, Michigan to play for a few days, and went to the Meijer Sculpture Gardens when the Chihuly Exhibit was there. And it was amazing. I’d watched glass-blowers before, but mostly doing cats and dogs, not things 10 feet high and meant to stand in your garden. It was amazing. John wanted to go to the Meijer Gardens with me last summer. Instead, Irene and I may go back, this time in spring. It’s a lovely place.

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