Carmel Magazine

Carmel Magazine, Spring 2018

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174 C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • S P R I N G / S U M M E R 2 0 1 8 his grandmother, Jeanne Hubbard, was the artist in the family—but he did love to be construc- tive, make things in 3D, and build model air- planes and fantastic things with Legos. While attending Monterey Peninsula College, Leonoff took an interest in business and began searching for a focus that would ignite a passion. While working part-time for glass master Alan Masaoka in Carmel Valley, he appreciated the artistry but imagined, once he transferred to Pepperdine University to pursue a degree in business administration, glass would become a mere reflection of his past. Yet, upon graduation, Leonoff returned to Masaoka Glass Design to help the artist with his business. Masaoka began teaching him how to blow glass. Soon, Leonoff was attending work- shops and craft fairs and working to hone his craft. "I was taken a little off guard—this was so unexpected—but I was so fascinated by the process," Leonoff says. "After I sold my first piece, I took it one step at a time, slowly devel- oping my business and my designs." Seeking to invest his talents in something both entrepreneurial and charitable, Leonoff created his signature design, a diverse collection of blown-glass pumpkins, for which he established the annual Glass Pumpkin Patch of Carmel, which benefits MEarth. The last five years have yielded a net income of more than $105,000. "Pumpkins represent the harvest," he says, "which is a time for gratitude and to celebrate the bounty in our lives. I now sell and ship pump- kins across the country, which have been fea- tured in the nationally distributed Artful Home catalog. There is a bit of magic in glass pumpkins." While in New York, Leonoff realized he need- ed to differentiate his artwork. To develop a dis- tinguishable look for a national market, he creat- ed a progressive collection of hand-blown and wheel-carved glasswork. His most prominent body of work is "Portals." "The portal is a passageway for light," he says. "I am creating a relationship between the interi- or and exterior by juxtaposing opaque and translucent, glossy and matte, with light and dark. The voice of the glass emerges through reflections of light suspended in space." In 2017, while driving Connie across country to establish his studio gallery in Carmel Valley, Leonoff participated in the Des Moines Art Festival. There, he met artist Ben Schula, who offered to do a painting demonstration on Connie. In celebration of Leonoff 's bicoastal experiences, Schula painted a stylized Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, Golden Gate Bridge, California Bear, and a "Cheers from Des Moines." Then, he signed his work. Today, Connie spends most of her days sitting outside the red door to Leonoff Studios & Gallery adjacent Masaoka Glass Design or riding around town in her faded façade. Leonoff has been decorated with many awards for his artistry, most recently at the La Quinta Arts Festival. He returned to New York in late April to exhibit at Art Expo New York, followed by the Smithsonian Craft Show in Washington, DC. He anticipates a studio grand opening on June 2 from 4-6pm, and don't miss the 6th Annual Glass Pumpkin Patch of Carmel on September 15 & 16, at The Hilton Bialek Habitat, 4380 Carmel Valley Road. Leonoff Studios Inc. is located at 13766 Center St. #G3 in Carmel Valley. For information, go to or call 831/241-1046. Leonoff's blown-glass pumpkins raise money for MEarth, an environmental nonprofit at the Hilton Bialek Habitat adjacent to Carmel Middle School. Leonoff apprenticed with stained glass expert Alan Masaoka when he was a student at Monterey He had no idea, growing up, that he would become one of the leading glass artists in the country. Photo: Helena Wink

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