STOKED PRESENTS: 2STROKE
Known as the “Master Of Color”, we are incredibly excited to host 2Stroke for an exclusive drop here at Stoked on Saturday, June 26th 2021 at 7:00PM EST. After a year of adaptation and exploration this solo exhibition will include 2Stroke’s newest murrini, patterns and techniques. VIP Tickets go on sale Thursday, June 17th at 7:10PM EST on StokedCT.com.
Born and raised in Abington, VA Christopher McElroy remembers being inspired by art at an early age. After high school he began studying in the craft department at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA. Working with metals, ceramics and textiles he stumbled into a glass demo on campus in the fall of 1999; the demonstration artist happened to be Emilio Santini. Chris was fascinated by the torch and movement of glass; he immediately knew he wanted to try it. Being a guest at the class he hung around for awhile and observed, finally a few torches opened up after the students wrapped up their open torch time and he jumped at the opportunity. Using Emilio’s guidance Chris made his very first borosilicate marble. Chris continued to study flameworking under the mentorship of Emilio and earned his BFA at VCU in 2012.
After undergrad Chris bought a van, traveled west and spent time living in Colorado, Montana and Washington. Chris’ work was primarily focused on creating vessels, marbles, beads and teapots. While traveling across the Pacific Northwest he often found himself working in pipe shops each with their own collective of inspirational people pushing the boundaries of glass with unique access to color and tools.
He spent time working in Bellingham, WA at Nebula - A studio owned by Ivan Barrow. At this time Ivan had a color supply business sourcing high quality American color that was not widely available. The borosilicate color industry in the PNW was thriving, nearby Abe Fleishman, now the head of NorthStar Glass, was creating batches of color at Precision Glass. Having access to these materials and experimental batches enabled Chris to take a deep dive into color.
During this time his work was mostly focused on patterns and layering color to create basket weave technique. This technique was heavily inspired by Brian Kerkvliet, a furnace worker in Bellingham, whom Chris was doing some intermittent work for in between his own studio time. Brian Kerkvliet had a fun approach to glass, a love for color and an affinity for Italian techniques. Brian was very influential on the Bellingham glass scene and pipe makers across the PNW, he often held workshops at his studio and connected with the next generation of artists.
Continuing his travels, Chris spent time creating at Glass Works Park in Seattle, WA. This collective of artists is where he met Jason Lee, Ease, Gasp, Kevin Nail, Pakoh, Slinger and Amber Pellegrini. “It was like a glass pipe renaissance was happening, this group was pushing boundaries of glass and were instrumental in pushing pipes forward - they were creating work using unique furnace crossover techniques like I’d never seen before”.
In 2011 Chris decided it was time to return to school, pursue his masters and maybe begin teaching afterwards. “I wanted to further my understanding of fine art while enriching and developing my sculptural practice. I wanted to focus on making work without the need to generate income”. Intrigued by the work of Mark Zirpel he applied to the University Of Washington in Seattle, WA. Zirpel’s teachings emphasized expectations of glass - how it affects our everyday lives, transparency, refraction and how to demand more from it. “I wanted to make things that would ponder, inspire investigation or study. I wanted my glass to perform, to have a function and ultimately that the glass would “serve”.” Chris graduated with his MFA from UW in 2013.
Shortly after graduation Chris got a call from Emilio at VCU. “He said he was at the end of his run, he was ready to go and wanted to know if I would be curious about coming on board to teach the program.” Chris was honored and accepted - he became an adjunct professor and started teaching flameworking classes. During his first year of teaching at his alma mater he began to develop a curriculum for a class that he would go on to call “Handcrafted Entrepreneurship” - something he wished he had access to during his undergrad experience. This class started in his second year of teaching at VCU and was extremely enriching for his students. ”Handcrafted Entrepreneurship” focused on how to create a product, take it to market and how to interact with buyers all in a very professional manner. At the end of the semester the group showcased their works at the American Craft Council show and Chris ultimately ended up teaching himself that he had all these tools necessary to start a focused business making glass.
Chris has taught flameworking classes all over the world including Kyoto University of Art and Design in Japan, Penland School of Crafts, the Corning Museum of Glass, Pilchuck Glass School, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, and the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Israel. Teaching pushed Chris into reconnecting with his love for glass color, he couldn’t stop thinking about the energy and enthusiasm of the pipe scene. “Having met so many pipe makers in my early glass years I always appreciated their spark, enthusiasm, exploration of the medium and encouragement for each other.” Functional glass art was on the rise and in 2013 he left VCU and started 2Stroke.
2Stroke’s inspiration mostly comes from textiles such as North African rugs, upholstery, Native American blankets and Pendleton. Minerals are also influential to his color and pattern techniques. He has small collections that he likes to organize to help him understand things - one that maybe he's taken a little far is his collection of glass color hence the name ‘Master of Color’. He views collecting objects as “little ingredients that complement each other - like a nice salad”. These inspirations bring his Heliocoil murrini to life. Heliocoil is a complex process of layering, sleeving, coldworking and reheating sections. Heliocoil is his take on the regionally classic technique known as Colorado Basket Weave.
In 2019 we invited 2Stroke to participate in our first Grateful Dead themed show “American Beauty” and a fabulous friendship was formed. Living only an hour and half away in Hudson, NY Chris joined us on that hot July afternoon with his sidekick Shadow, a big handsome Alaskan Malamute. Chris created an extra special Kazu which he named after the first Grateful Dead album he remembered hearing as a kid, “Aoxomoxoa”. 2Stroke’s work tells a story through color, the pipe had a sense of discovery and wonder - the piece quickly became a focal point of the show.
We stayed in touch with Chris and he visited us every so often. During his visits we began brainstorming a show for 2020 and “A Time For Passion” was born - a group show featuring the work of Disk, Takao Miyake, Andrew Certo and himself. Andrew and Chris made plans to travel to Japan in early March 2020 however the global pandemic, COVID-19, hit and all travel plans were canceled. The collaborative process is something that is very special to 2Stroke and is unquestionably one of the most unique parts of the pipe making industry. We postponed the show until June 2020 and working together from the other side of the world we all adapted as a team to overcome the presented challenges. The group mailed prep work back and forth and ultimately collaborated on a legendary body of work.
2Stroke always brings the heat and we absolutely cannot wait to show you his most recent works!
Ticket Cost: $125
VIP Ticket Includes:
- $100 of your ticket cost will be applied to any show purchase
- Private Instagram account access
- Live VIP pre-show preview
- Ticket holders will have the opportunity to attend either virtually via our VIP Instagram or in-store
- Buying order will be drawn LIVE during the show
- All buyers names will go into the SAME hat and buying will go in order according to which the names are pulled
- Buyers will have a 5 minute decision timeframe
- We accept all major credit cards
- All payments must be completed on our website StokedCT.com
- If payment is not received within 24 hours of the show your item will be released to the public and your ticket cost will be forfeited
- In-store payment plans will be available after VIP concludes
We hope you can join us! Please send us a message if you have any questions!