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Glass artists’ partnership a successful fusion

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By Sara Miller

The partnership of artists David and Danna Cuin goes beyond a love of glass. The couple, both of whom have professional backgrounds in technical specialties, jumped into the world of art in 1998 and have never looked back. This month, the Cuins are approaching retirement from their second careers, as artists. After showing their work in galleries throughout the world, the Cuins will bring their entire collection of glass pieces home to the Evergreen Gallery.

“David and Danna have been selling their beautiful dichroic glass art pieces here since September of 1999,” says Lisa Mallin, owner of the downtown gallery. “They have been a very big part of the gallery’s sales over the years.”

Complementary skills and know-how make the partnership work in producing art glass of many kinds. The route to those skills, however, has not been predictable or direct. David’s background was in the technical side of the construction industry. He came to America in 1980 and consulted for major universities such as Yale, Georgia Tech and Princeton on materials for athletic tracks and artificial-turf fields.

“Art had not really figured in my life at all,” David says. “When I came to the States, I happened to mention to Danna that I would like to try watercolor painting. So I took a few classes and started painting in 1982.”

Danna worked for 30 years for the telephone company and spent the last part of her career in technical training.

“My career in art all started one day when David and I were walking down Main Street and looked in the window of the Evergreen Gallery,” Danna says. “There were several pieces of stained glass on display, and I thought I’d like to learn how to make some myself. David bought me lessons, and after two sets of classes, I started teaching at Simon Studio in Evergreen.”

When David retired in 1998, he decided to look for an artistic endeavor that was more technical than watercolor. He settled on sandblasting glass, and as part of equipping himself, the Cuins purchased a kiln.

“We had quite a lot of stained glass around the house, and I played around with that for a time. I became instantly hooked on glass fusing,” says David.

David created designs for fused-glass plates and dishes. Upon Danna’s suggestion, the couple began incorporating their signature aspen leaves with gold stems into the dichroic glass design. David was working part-time at the Evergreen Gallery and approached then-owner Meryl Sabeff about trying to sell a few pieces.

The pieces, which are both functional and beautiful and are defined by their distinctive dark color, began to sell at a rapid pace. Sabeff referred the Cuins to Sandy Sardella of Pismo Fine Art Glass. Pismo had four galleries at the time, in Aspen, Vail, Beaver Creek and Denver.

“We walked in in our jeans with a cardboard box with ‘Cuin’ written on the side of it. While we waited for Sandy, I looked around and saw the work of Lino Tagliapietra and Dale Chihuly. I told Sandy we were never getting into Pismo,” says David.

Sardella placed the couple’s work not only in her Cherry Creek gallery but in all four galleries. The Cuins went on to forge a career as glass artists for more than 15 years.

At the end of 2014, Sandy Sardella announced the closure of the Pismo galleries at the end of April 2015. Having felt for several years that it was time to slow down, the Cuins took Sardella’s announcement as a sign.

The Cuins also have fused their skills in leadership and teaching to become volunteers for and representatives of the creative community in Evergreen. Both have taught art classes; both served on the board of the Evergreen Artists Association; David helped found Open Door Studios, the annual studio tour that takes place each September; and both have worked with art teacher Ann Simpson, volunteering in her middle school art classes as artists-in-residence.

For information on the Cuins’ art or to see their glasswork, visit the Evergreen Gallery or view it online at www.theevergreengallery.com.