With a baby on the way, classes to teach and students to mentor, Assistant Professor of Glass Brian Frus had to get creative after being offered a plum commission by Hobnob restaurant, a soon-to-open heavy-hitter in the quest to make 220 Riverside in Jacksonville’s trendy Brooklyn area a culinary destination.
He turned to a freshman glass major, Alan Ruf, a more seasoned junior, Colin Stader, and a veteran alum, Andy Peters ‘05, to help with some of the heavy lifting in the sometimes arduous process of handblown glasswork.
The result, after some 20 hours of work at the glass furnaces over several months, is a spectacular, lighted 100-piece hanging “downpour” of colored glass spherical shapes, to be unveiled to the media and public at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, March 16.
Frus and College of Fine Arts Dean Dr. Henry Rinne will be on hand along with others to discuss how the piece’s creation lends an important additional focal point to the local art scene and shows how important new partnerships being launched by JU highlight its impact in the community.
The 10-foot-by-10-foot permanent installation is part of what Hobnob owners Alan and Ellen Cottrill are calling the 4,560-square-foot, 165-seat eatery’s “global inspiration with local intentions.”
“Even with a lot on your plate, you don’t turn down a chance like this, to work with an ownership team like that,” said Frus, whose daughter, Juniper Wild Frus, was born Feb. 8. “It brings notoriety to our glass program, and puts us in the spotlight. It shows that JU is more than just an insulated community behind a fence, that we have a commitment to be involved in our neighborhood and in our world.”
“This type of project really showcases the value of the talent here in our city that people may not know about,” he said. “And it offered a chance to put my students in a real-world situation with deadlines to meet. You just can’t get that in a classroom.”
The restaurant at Unity Plaza has invitation-only soft opening events scheduled for March 21-24, with dinner service by reservation beginning March 25.