7960564472?profile=originalThe gallery space at Benzaiten Center for Creative Arts in Lake Worth.
Photos by
Tim Stepien/
The Coastal Star

By Lucy Lazarony

    A historic Florida East Coast Railway depot near downtown Lake Worth has been transformed into a new creative arts center.
    Named for the Japanese goddess Benzaiten by founder JB Berkow, Benzaiten Center for Creative Arts opened its doors on Jan. 23 with nationally renowned glass artists Shelley Muzylowski Allen and Rik Allen putting on a riveting, 3½ hour, glass-blowing demonstration.
    “We had about a thousand people coming through,” Berkow says of Benzaiten’s opening night event, which also included a mini art fair of Lake Worth artists and galleries as part of Art Synergy, which runs in coordination with Art Palm Beach.
    “It was perfect timing for us,” says creative director Rick Eggert, who ran his own glass-blowing studio up in Stuart for 10 years before coming to Benzaiten.

7960564653?profile=originalCenter director Rick Eggert (front) works with colleague David Peterson to produce commissioned glass works at Benzaiten Center for Creative Arts.


    The 14,500-square-foot arts center, at 1105 Second Ave. S. in Lake Worth, includes a 4,500-square-foot glass-blowing studio, a 6,000-square-foot metal foundry and a 2,000-square-foot gallery and gift shop.
    The gallery, gift shop and glass-blowing studio are open, while the foundry, which will be able to pour 69,000 pounds of bronze per year, is scheduled to open by the end of 2016.  
    “We’re dedicated to providing services to all professional artists in the area,” says Berkow, an artist and sculptor who owns Rosetta Stone Fine Art Gallery in Jupiter.  
    “Also a big part of our mission is educating the public of what goes into making a fine piece of art.”
    Berkow wanted to provide a foundry on the east coast of Florida that would allow artists to rent studio time to create their art and provide classes and tours to the public.
    “But I also like the idea of glass blowing because it’s sexy and a lot of people are into it,” Berkow says.

7960564097?profile=originalThe bottom of a goblet is torched as the final step in the process.


          Local artists are already renting studio time and creating pieces of art in the center’s glass blowing studio.
    “We’ve only been open two weeks and we’ve been pretty booked so far,” Eggert says.
    At least one night a month, there will be a live art demonstration open to the public and there also are plans for an art movie night and art poetry night at Benzaiten.
    Group tours for six or more people begin in March. And people are welcome to come by and visit the gallery and gift shop and observe artists working in the glass-blowing studio or hot shop.  
    “There is going to be a $6 admission per person if anyone wants to go back to watch the glass blowers and be in the hot shop,” says Anita Holmes, Benzaiten’s executive director.   
    There also are plans to coordinate tours and classes with McMow Art Glass, also in Lake Worth.
    Gallery hours are from 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.  
    The gallery features bronze sculptures by Berkow and Gil Bruvel, glass sculptures by Eggert, Shelley Muzylowski Allen and Rik Allen, Steven Funk, Zac Gorell, glass studio manager David Peterson and ceramic sculptures by Woodrow Nash.
    “In the gallery, fine works of art are available for sale,” Eggert says. “We have some very affordable things, too.
Everything here is made    by hand.”
    A gift shop with glass pieces made at the studio — including paperweights, bowls, vases and hearts — are priced from $15 to $75.
    Hot shop hours for artists, classes and studio rentals are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
    A parking lot behind the arts center can be accessed from Third Avenue South.
    For more information, on membership, donations, sponsorships, tours and classes, visit benzaitencenter.org.

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