KGB Glass Brings Sweet Donuts to Grassroots Chicago
The perfect frosting drip on a donut is possibly the 8th wonder of the world: nearly impossible to achieve and incredibly satisfying when one nails it. The perfect dusting of rainbow sprinkles, evenly distributed, nestled under the surface of the sugary mudslide? We need a minute... We're drooling over KGB Glass, the Donut All Over T Shirt, and donut glass!
Brian Owoc of Portland, Maine has baked over half a million donuts in his lifetime and has turned his passion for donuts into one of the sweetest art forms our foodie brains crave: donut glass. Brian started studying glass blowing on the side in 2001, learning technique from a good friend. He was living the dream: on tour with Phish, baking at the local donut-shops, and learning to blow glass. He started blowing glass pipes, rigs, bubblers, pendants, etc.. Then, in 2012, he blew a donut pipe. At first, head shops were hesitant to purchase the donuts, but now these donuts are heavily-sought after. Each piece is now labeled with a titanium etching with the year and are sold with a custom KGB Glass Donut bag, each numbered and signed, just like a print. Clad in his new donut shirt and custom donut Nikes, he was ready to kick off his new gallery with Grassroots Chicago in style.
The KGB Glass show opened on Saturday, July 7th at Grassroots Chicago. The Movement Gallery was filled with glass pendants, pipes, rigs, and donut-related artwork. Along with the glass show came the GRC merch drop with the newest KGB collabs. The collection of hats includes a Pink Donut Fitted, a Black Dad Hat, a Rainbow Donuts Dad Hat, a Sprinkles Beanie and a Pink Donut Beanie. For apparel, we've created two pairs of donut leggings, two styles of donut T Shirts, and the Donut Reversible Hoodie. For accessories, we're proud to present the three donut pins and three donut mood mats. This was Brian's second collaboration with Grassroots California and is the tastiest looking yet!
During the gallery opening event, Brian and his girlfriend, Sarah Mobsby, shared with us more about their lives up in Portland, Maine. Not only are they couples-goals in matching donuts, they are adorably supportive of each other. They met when Brian was selling glass shop-to-shop and sold a piece to Sarah who worked at a glass shop in town. They met at a local bar where Sarah was meeting friends to play the card game "Cribbage" when he came through and gave her the glass and a donut for her help. At first, she thought little of the donut and gave it to her roommate. Now, that donut is a cherished piece of glass worth hundreds to pipe shops and art galleries around the United States. The couple now plays an incredible amount of bowling and is super stoked that ESPN's Bowling hometown is now Portland, Maine! Brian averages a 197-210 and goes by the alias "Jamaican Jerk". In their off season, the couple helps shovel out locals during snow season and plans their annual "DonutFest".
DonutFest is on National Donut Day (the first Friday in June) hosted yearly in Portland Maine. Brian releases over 100 new donut pieces and collaborations for the event. Along with the glass show, Brian sells donut-themed art by local artists. After the Fest, guests head to the after party with local live bands and free bowling: proceeds are donated to a local soup kitchen and Mike Rich did live painting. Glass- and donut-fans travel from all over the United States for the annual donut celebration.
This year's event almost conflicted with the Pro Bowling shenanigans. Coincidentally, the marketing manager from Shamrock Bowling was also from Portland and invited the Commissioner to come check out Brian's work. Brian hopes to collab with Fox Sport Bowling in the near future and have a bowling-themed Donut Fest. If you're ever watching Pro events on television, look for Brian's inflatable joint and homemade posters supporting the pro bowlers! "They're all potheads," he tells us. "And we all look out for each other.".
While in Chicago, Brian and Sarah made a point to get in some of the most authentic Chicagoland experiences and knock off a few items from their bucket lists. The couple hit up the Ferris Bueller's paintings at the Art Institute, went out on the ledge at the Sears Tower SkyDeck, and boated around the Chicago River for the Architecture Boat Tour, a must-do for Chicago first-timers!
Before Brian and Sarah left for their next event in Indiana, we had to ask him about his favorite donut: "day old chocolate," he said, "or a truck tire (crueller)." Spoken like a true baker, Brian. Thanks for sharing your sweet life and glass with us!
Author & Contributing Photographer: Niki Graham