By Alex Reza – Violin Maker. Studio G2
Walking into the Hot Shops Art Center for the first time was a great experience for me. Walking through this building that has stood for over 100 years, starting off life as something different – a mattress factory – than what it is now. It is a wonder to the senses.
I could hear the creak of the floors as if the building itself is speaking and alive. In many ways it is, with the art that fills the halls and the studios that help bring ideas and creations to life. So much to see, hear, smell, touch and take in. As I walked around, watching art come to life and at the same time interacting with the creators, I learned about their processes and techniques.
I saw looms, where weavers spun their yarn and them made amazing clothing items. The photographers with their many different styles, gave me a look into their minds. I saw many different artists and the different mediums they use to bring their ideas to life. I saw the galleries that displayed the fruits of their labor and love – it brought joy to my heart.
Art here takes many different forms, and the finished pieces are always unique, showing the individualism of the respective people. On the first floor there is a wood carver – watching him transform a piece of wood to recognizable faces in a matter of minutes shows his skill and knowledge of his craft.
The blacksmiths and sculptors in the foundry – with its collection of raw materials, noise and smells – bring to life yet another form of art. You can hear the power hammers transforming metal, and molten metals are transformed from liquid into lasting pieces of art.
Another process from which the raw materials are transformed into functional art is pottery. I walk over and notice the many different ceramic pieces, carefully made crafted art that can be used and enjoyed in everyday life. Seeing the process and how easy the potter makes it look shows a masters knowledge of the craft. Wisdom is infused into each piece.
Walking next door to the “Crystal Forge” you are immediately surrounded by color. Feeling the heat from the furnaces, seeing the glow of the molten glass and all of the beautiful art pieces on display, show each individual artists’ personality.
Like the building itself, which was transformed from a mattress factory to working artist studios, the artists transform many different materials into something for all to enjoy. The variety of art and skill is vast. The Hot Shops is a wondrous place to visit and learn from those artists, I enjoy talking to them all. I feel a connection to the items I have purchased here when I get to meet the maker face-to-face and walk away with a little treasure created from their own hand and heart.
In 2015 Alex and his wife Genevieve started Violins of Omaha where he is a full-time luthier and shop owner. Alex passionately handcrafts each instrument, making his own varnish and ground system. Alex devotes himself to the craft full time and continues his quest to produce the best instruments he can. Alex collaborates with local makers and musicians to provide the highest quality handcrafted instruments.