A Brilliant Life

Leaving legacy around the world
Chris Juedemann and his daughter Ari in Venice, an epicenter of art glass.

Chris Juedemann, a pioneering glass artist who, with his wife Lissa, launched Glass Kitchen Studio at home in Hendersonville in 2001, was  a master of murrine, an ancient technique he helped to sustain and advance, making the genre completely his own. Sadly, the intense, charismatic artist took his own life on June 30, leaving behind a monumental legacy in both the arts and in the hearts of the many who loved him and were inspired by him. 

When he moved to Hendersonville, Juedemann was one of only a few accomplished murrine artists active in the world. The medium involves stacking pencil-thin threads of colored glass into a kind of mosaic. The strands are fired in a kiln to fuse them into a pointillism-style image. Once hardened, the fused glass can be sliced like cookie dough to reveal coin-shaped slices of glass that each display nearly identical images. (Juedemann’s murrine slices were typically portraits of  historical figures, musicians, and pop-culture icons.)

“Men of Influence,” from the collection of Herman Pedrotti, Switzerland.

Jon Green, a collector in Tokyo who represented the artist worldwide, says that when he first encountered Juedemann’s work, “I was immediately hooked. It was so diverse, with many different unique styles and techniques I hadn’t seen anywhere else.”

Fellow glass artist Shannon “Snoopy” Norris described Juedemann as “a glassblower’s glassblower,” adding that his reputation as a masterful artist preceded him.

“I was already well aware of his work when we met in New Jersey after a glass show, at a music jam. But I had no idea that we both lived in Asheville. I was playing my guitar when someone came up behind me and started fingering the chords on the neck as I strummed — and it turned out to be Chris.” 

Wizard of Oz murrine slices, from the collection of Jon Green, Tokyo.

Yuri Federman, owner of Level 42 Gallery in Asheville’s River Arts District, recalls, “I met Chris in 2018, and when he showed up at our gallery, it was like a unicorn had just arrived. We knew who he was. We all looked up to him and his art. Chris was truly a living legend.”

But Juedemann was also legendary for his generous nature and enthusiasm for aviation, astronomy, ham radio, and technology. In the 1990s, he was an employee of Moog Music (then Big Briar Instruments), building theremins. More recently, he worked for the City of Asheville, helping upgrade the equipment and software used in fire trucks and police cars. As Norris observed, “It was so endearing at his memorial service where everyone learned more about him we didn’t know before, because it brought together so many people who didn’t realize all those other aspects of him. 

“He was a community builder — not on purpose, but because he was really good at connecting with people in a way that made them feel good about themselves. Sometimes he’d be reclusive, but I think the work he did took extreme focus, and might take months to finish. But he had friends in all kinds of communities and impacted their children in extremely positive ways. He would drop everything to go teach a kid.” When he met Norris’ young son, Juedemann helped him make a door knocker that unlocked only when a secret knock was used. 

“Chris was just so eclectic, and had so many passions,” adds Federman. “But his greatest passion was his daughter Ari.” In June, she graduated as Salutatorian from the School of Inquiry and Life Sciences at Asheville High, simultaneously earning an Associate Degree at AB Tech — and is now studying art conservation and restoration in Greece. 

“His role of being a father seemed to be his greatest joy in life,” says Federman.

Interested collectors can check the Facebook groups “Millefiori Artists, Collector and ADDICTs Group (MACA)” and “Glass Kitchen: The Juedemann Collectors Group.”

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