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Some Like It Hot

Colorful silica chips, molten under extreme heat, worked on a blowpipe into a glossy confection.

That's the scene at The Arts Center in downtown St. Petersburg as glass artist Jodi Bove uses a 2,000-degree furnace and her considerable skill to fashion batches of liquid glass into art objects.

As current artist in residence at The Arts Center, Bove demonstrates her glasswork techniques 16 times a week for the public through May 18, each Hot Glass! session lasting approximately 30 minutes with a brief overview and discussion period. And if you're looking for a workout, handling blowpipes looks like a good one, judging by Bove's sinewy arms.

The demos serve as an educational adjunct to Chihuly Across Florida: Masterworks in Glass, a premier exhibit of Dale Chihuly's work at the Museum of Fine Arts. They also complement The Arts Center's own exhibit Glass: A View Within, a selection of new pieces by international glass artists.

A visit to the Museum of Fine Arts' Chihuly exhibit costs $12 for adults, while The Arts Center show is free. The demos are also free for members and otherwise a mere $3 for adults, $1 for kids over 5. Urban Visions, the young professionals group of The Arts Center, is also hosting a cocktail party highlighted by one of Bove's shows from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, Feb. 20. Tickets cost $20 for members, $25 for nonmembers.

Having financed her artistic development by demonstrating glass blowing since she was in college, Bove travels the country making glass objects, spending summers doing demos at the New York State Renaissance Faire in Tuxedo, N.Y., and at the Texas Renaissance Faire in Plantersville, Texas. She spends her winters in St. Petersburg designing and producing more complex works at Sigma Glass, located at 16th Avenue N.

If you've never seen glass blown live, it's really quite a revelatory experience that helps you to appreciate the art.

Hot Glass! demos take place at 10, 10:45 and 11:30 a.m., and 1:30 p.m. on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays (with an added happy hour event at 6 p.m. Fridays for those who can't make the daytime shows), and at 1, 1:45, 2:30 and 3:15 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

The Arts Center is located at 719 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. The Museum of Fine Arts is located at 255 Beach Drive, St. Petersburg (727-896-2667). The Downtown Looper shuttles patrons between the two venues every 15 minutes. For more info on Hot Glass! or additional exhibits, workshops, classes and events at The Arts Center, call 727-822-7872.