Michael Bokrosh was born 1953 in Mankato, Minnesota and grew up surrounded by the glass tradition of his father, Michael Jr., a master glass craftsman for over 50 years. At the age of 14 Michael began his glass apprenticeship under the guidance of his father at Zeno glass company in Mankato.
Eight years later in 1975, Michael Bokrosh took a position with Glass Craft Studio in Portland, Oregon. At that time, stained glass as an art form was experiencing a grass root resurgence. Bokrosh's next apprenticeship training began at Glass Craft Studio in the drafting of glass designs used in the reproduction of stain glass lamps.
Within six months Bokrosh had mastered the drafting and design transfers and his training continued with glass cutting. Bokrosh was familiar with how to cut plate glass, having learned it earlier in his father's business. However the endless varieties and variations of the stained art glass medium required a flexibility and patience that would serve him well in years to come.
Within a year, he advanced to the glass art repair and restoration division of Glass Craft Studio, and two years later, Bokrosh's skill level was proficient enough that he could execute the designing, cutting, and repairing of art glass projects at Glass craft Studio. In 1977 Bokrosh, began his teaching career with an evening stained-glass class through Portland community college.
In 1978, while still at Glass Craft Studio, Bokrosh developed an intense interest in the beveled art glass form and began to teach himself the technical process of glass beveling. The process of developing this difficult skill coupled with the growing demand for beveled art glass, lead to a chance meeting with an old world master of engraved and beveled art glass, George Smolcic. It is at Glass Craft Studio then that Michael Bokrosh first realized he would become a glass artist.
His new mentor George Smolcic, further solidified Bokrosh's career path by arranging for him to train in Europe at the Brusinia Stakla factory in Pula, Yugoslavia. Michael studied at that old world factory the cutting and polishing of art glass for six months with George's father, Duro Smolcic. After his apprenticeship in Yugoslavia, Michael realized the value of the European glass master training programs; subsequently he applied for a position at the glass school in Orrefors, Sweden. Orrefors is a renowned art glass factory in the heart of the glass industry in Sweden. It was a significant move in Bokrosh's career when, in 1980, the government sponsored art school accepted Michael into its two-year glass masters program. "I felt extremely fortunate to be able to attend the Orrefors Glass School," commented Bokrosh. "The reputation of the school was excellent and I would be studying under the well-known art glass masters, who taught there," he added. The technical art training at the glass school was systematic; mornings were dedicated to learning how to shape hot glass art on the blowpipes, and the afternoons were spent learning the basic skills of cutting cold art glass. With the first school year over, a Norwegian classmate found a summer job for the impoverished Bokrosh at a glass factory in Oslo, Norway. This summer work provided the artist the necessary funding to continue at the Orrefors Glass school. Bokrosh's impressive work ethic at the glass factory in Oslo also earned him an invitation to come back and work there whenever he had a break from school.
Returning to the Orrefors' the following year as a senior, his skills with glass blowing and cutting greatly increased. Bokrosh was now learning how to blow glass into graphite molds and within a few months he was turning out a significant amount of production glass. The advanced cold working training consisted of mastering the deep cutting and engraving of traditional and contemporary designs into heavy lead crystal. The artist's steady hand and patience from his previous glass beveling experience served him well in this process. Bokrosh slowly began to realize that working in cold art glass came much easier to him than working with hot glass. This realization was to become a major emotional conflict for Bokrosh in years to come. The conflict sprang from the mental and emotional image he had of himself as a flashy and exciting hot glass artist. Cold work, on the other hand, was tedious, solitary and often grueling work. Still, the cold working artisan has the ability to put the creative process on hold at any time while turning his critical eye to the unfolding sculptural process. The patient methodology required for cold working better suited the artist's personal as well as creative expression. Eventually one of the hardest lessons for Bokrosh would come; resolving the conflict between being an extroverted glassblower or that of an introverted cold worker.
In 1982 Michael Bokrosh returned to the US from the Orrefors Glass School with his technical certificate and was hired as a glassblower by the Glass Eye Studio of Seattle, Washington. Bokrosh, together with his new glass blowing partner artist Norman Courtney, created solid glass paperweights that featured a variety of intriguing shapes and colors on the inside of the glass orb. Between the art glass paperweights and Christmas ornaments Bokrosh's efficient methodology soon caught the attention of The Glass Eye Studio's management and Bokrosh was asked to bring his efficient skill and training to the production line. Eventually, and painfully so, Michael Bokrosh began to realize that his glass art blowing skills were not keeping pace with the other glass blowers in the studio. This was the beginning, for the artist, of the agonizing process of letting go of that self image he had been holding in his mind and heart of becoming a famous glassblower.
Years before, while working in Portland, Bokrosh had met a man with some glass grinding equipment for sale. Bokrosh called him and eventually purchased all of his cold glass working equipment. This was the first step of a major change in the artist's life. Instinctively, he knew he had the skill and the talent to bring the magic out of glass. Now he was finally ready to choose the path less taken or desired; devoting himself to becoming a cold glass art worker.
Bokrosh Studio began in 1985 and Michael Bokrosh's vision for his new business was to fabricate pyramid-shaped glass skylights, which drew on his experience in welding and stained glass. While the skylight was a work in progress, several glass artists asked if he could do some cold glasswork on their blown glass vessels. Within a few short months, an unexpected new market opened up for the artist; that of providing cold work art services for other glass artists.
In 1986, the glass artist Greg Engelsby brought a piece of bright clear glass into the studio and Bokrosh was introduced for the first time to optical glass. This beautiful optical art glass was produced in the United States and readily available to the artist as a new medium. This exposure to optical art glass had a dramatic affect on Bokrosh. Michael felt the freedom to explore his untapped creativity which he had held in check for many years. He carefully studied the raw pieces of art glass, looking to unlock the art that lay hidden inside each crystal block. Visualizing the mental idea of the sculpture, he would then sketch out ideas on paper until he intuited a design that was meant for that individual block of crystal art glass. Bokrosh loved the creativity of working in optical art glass and by the fall of 1986, he had created his first full production line of optical art glass paperweights.
With a beautiful product line to promote, Michael Bokrosh researched
available galleries and complied a mailing list to market his work with
interested clients. By the fall of 1987, the artist was ready for his
first promotional sales venture. Bokrosh traveled to California where
his glass work was well received at Gump's in San Francisco and Geary's
in Los Angeles, as well as other respected glass art galleries.
In 1988 Bokrosh received a scholarship to attend Pilchuck glass school and underwent training by the famous Italian glass masters; Loredano and Dino Rosin. The Rosin Brothers specialized in the combination of solid hot and cold worked sculptural glass art. Working with the Rosin's heavily influenced Bokrosh's next career move; the creation of fine sculptural art glass.
In 1990, Bokrosh shifted his market focus towards fine art and spent months creating a series of significant large optical art glass sculptures. Targeting specific fine art galleries, Bokrosh mailed color slides of his new glass art sculpture along with letters of introduction to gallery owners. He received positive responses and as a result, joined many established and respected art galleries. The period from 1990 to 1995 saw the artist's work shown in more that 12 galleries nationwide, with four of those solo exhibitions of Bokrosh's glass art sculpture.
Ever since the early inception of Bokrosh Studio in 1985, customers would
seek out Bokrosh's talent for glass restoration, e.g., the repair of damaged
glass art sculpture. The immense popularity of the glass art movement
in the past 30 years and the inherent fragility of the medium of glass
have resulted in the establishment of a glass repair and restoration division
at Bokrosh Studio. For over 20 years Michael Bokrosh has refined these
unique restoration skills, and combines them with a high degree of quality
customer service for his glass restoration customers.
In early 1996 Bokrosh had the dream of creating his optical art sculptures on a truly grand scale. He began to design and construct a large glass-grinding machine that would cut and polish massive pieces of glass on a scale never seen before. Much like the famous line from the movie Field of Dreams; "Build it, and they will come." Bokrosh built the machine and was able to purchase, from Pilkington Glass of England, one very large piece of transparent gold optical glass that weighed over 3500 pounds! This enormous piece of optical glass gave Bokrosh the opportunity to fully engage his dream of creating massive optical glass sculptures filled with intricately cut facets on the surface. The first sculpture of the Monumental Glass Series was completed in the year 2000 and is titled "MerginGold.". Bokrosh studio is currently in the process of creating additions to the Monumental Glass Series plus other interesting and creative monumental glass art sculptures.
The past 23 years have also seen corporations such as Boeing, Paccar, Washington Mutual Bank, and the Seattle Mariners contact Michael Bokrosh requesting custom and/or corporate creations. These corporate opportunities were yet one more creative glass art expression for the now ever expanding Bokrosh Studio.
Currently the future continues to be bright for glass artist Michael Bokrosh as his artistic ascetic is opening daily to the beautifully creative and abundant Universe. Michael Bokrosh holds the intention to be sacredly balanced within the artistic life, and so the finest creations have only to wait patiently to be released by his hand.