view of the back of “The Glass Parrot,” stained glass and
mosaic artist Judy Kean’s contribution to this year’s GuitarMania.
(Photos courtesy of Judy Kean)
glass artist turns talents to designing guitar
By Ben Saylor
Published July 25, 2007
Kean is the first to admit she doesn’t really know a lot about guitars.
But that didn’t stop her from participating in United
Way’s GuitarMania, a community art project which has raised $1.5
million for the United Way and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and
Museum’s education fund. Companies or individuals sponsor the guitars.
Local artists and some celebrity artists design the oversized Fender
Stratocaster guitars, which are displayed throughout the Cleveland
area until November, when the guitars will be sold at a gala auction.
Sometimes sponsors purchase them for permanent display at their
Kean, a stained glass and mosaic artist who has been
working in the medium since 1984, said that although she knows very
little about guitars, she liked the idea of creating public art
for the United Way. In addition, she had previously created a normal-sized
stained glass guitar for another art show and had enjoyed that project.
The United Way had heard about that project and asked Kean to submit
a design for this year’s show.
“I just did it because I wanted to try something new,”
Kean said of the original guitar. She said stained glass guitars
are a good “eye magnet” and attract the attention of people who
might not otherwise stop by her table at shows.
A call for artists is the beginning of the GuitarMania
process, Kean said. Artists then submit drawings, which are reviewed
by a jury, who then select designs to display at the Galleria downtown,
where sponsors can select the design they would like to back. Kean’s
sponsor is the William and Pamela Summers family.
The process of creating her guitar, called “The Glass
Parrot,” took her about five weeks, Kean said, and cost approximately
$850, of which $100 was out-of-pocket expenses. Kean said five of
this year’s guitars are done with glass, and the rest are painted.
The ones that are painted can be done in a matter of days, she said.
“It’s [my guitar] a little more intense than the normal
guitar,” Kean said. Several individuals and groups helped the artist.
Home Depot contributed grout and adhesive, and the Wobblefoot Gallery
on Mars Avenue in Lakewood provided space for Kean to create the
guitar. In addition, Franklin Art Glass in Columbus, the only Ohio
wholesaler for stained glass, helped Kean get materials together.
Finally, Dussault Movers in Lakewood picked up the guitar and transported
it downtown for free.
The guitar, located near the courthouse and Browns
Stadium, is number 34 on the exhibit guide.
“It’s a great location for it,” Kean said.
Kean’s art keeps her busy. In addition to contributing
to art galleries and shows (Kean said she participates in 16 juried
shows a year), Kean teaches at several locations, including Lakeside
(where she founded an art center), Chagrin Falls Valley Art Center,
the Wobblefoot Gallery and out of her own home in Avon Lake, where
she has lived for the past four years. Before that, she lived in
Rocky River for 20 years, she said. She also brings her work to
the North Union Farmers’ Market at Crocker Park. And on top of all
that, Kean does work in restoration and repair of stained glass.
Her work was recently shown at the St. John West Shore
Hospital Festival of the Arts July 13-15. However, an accident on
Sunday morning damaged some of her work at the festival, and as
a result Kean has had to cancel some upcoming shows. Her next show
will be Aug. 19 at the Fourth Annual Warehouse District Street Festival
“This isn’t a hobby; it’s a job,” Kean said.
Her interests aren’t limited to art, either: She and
her husband, Lester, own an alpaca farm in Litchfield, Ohio. More
information about that venture can be found at www.theprideoftheandes.net.
Kean’s own Web site is www.theglassstudio.info.
Overall, “They always say you have to do something
you love,” Kean said.
Those interested in learning more about Kean and her
work can contact the artist at (440) 823-7406 or by e-mailing her