Special to The Sun
A program on OETA about Muranse glass blowers mesmerized Chris McGahan and prompted his wife Linda to sign her husband up for glass-blowing lessons.
The birthday present was the beginning of fostering Chris’s passion for learning the art of glassblowing and ultimately Bella Forte Glass Studio was born. “Bella” is Italian for “beautiful,” and “Forte” means “loud or strong.”
Chris has been joined by his son, Micah, and neither could have known their glass designs would include commissioned pieces, chandeliers, pendant lights, art glass in the form of vases, wall hangings, functional bowls, pitchers and just about anything they can dream up.
Most recently he was commissioned to create a trophy for the Oklahoma Business Ethics Consortium. The more than 40-inch tall “Spirit of Oklahoma” trophy is a Redento Raffinato vase made in shades of blue glass. Redento Raffinato is Italian for redeemed elegance and refers to glass artists who use broken pieces or excess pieces of glass to make new works of art.
“My understanding is the Redento Raffinato was purchased to be placed in the state Capitol to start with and then moved to different locations throughout the state,” McGahan said.
The Okahoma Business Ethics Consortium also purchased six smaller Redento Raffinato vases, miniature versions of the larger vase, to be given to six Pinnacle members including Bama Companies in Tulsa, Chesapeake, Hobby Lobby, SandRidge, KIMRAY Inc. and Devon.
“We are celebrating the 10th anniversary of OBEC this year and we wanted something special to put in a public area,” said Shannon Warren with the OBEC. “We wanted to promote the Spirit of Oklahoma as it relates to integrity.”
OBEC promotes Oklahoma values and integrity in the workplace, Warren added, and does so by spotlighting those companies that have achieved success while staying true to the highest ethical standards.
Warren said one of the OBEC board members had researched different art pieces and she ran into Chris and his son.
“I love the inspiration Chris shared with us representing the Spirit of Oklahoma,” Warren said. “Our whole thing is that we promote Oklahoma values and integrity at work.”
Warren said she walked in and saw the vase that was purchased with funds from an anonymous donor, and knew immediately it was what they wanted.
The vase is made of hues of handblown blue glass standing more than 40 inches tall.
“When Chris submitted a proposal telling what the colors and design stood for, I knew this was the special piece the OBEC Board of Directors was looking for to celebrate their 10th anniversary.”
Warren said McGahan’s proposal included the following: “The color ‘Blue’ in this Redento Raffinato, symbolizes the Spirit Of Oklahoma in that blue symbolizes optimism, depth and stability. Blue, symbolizes the color and depth of the ocean. It also is the color of the sky. The ‘Sky’ is our limit!”
“Our challenge has been to find a case to display the vase in so it will be safe when displayed,” Warren said. “We want it lighted, locked and made so it has a place to put some information.”
Chris and his son, Micah, create blown art glass and their own unique McGahan Signature Glass lines. They have incorporated blown art glass (which is widely known as an “Italian art”) with Italian cuisine in their restaurant, Italian Jim’s, in downtown Edmond.
Their glass designs can be seen in galleries in Edmond and Oklahoma City.