Tyler Curnes was on the fast track to a career in finance, poised to join his family’s financial company, Curnes Financial Group, after completing his financial degree program at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Though he felt as though his plan to enter a career in finance was, by his own admission, “good enough,” a backpacking trip through Europe in his sophomore year changed his plans unexpectedly and led to his eventual role as a gallery owner and kiln-formed glass artist.
It was in Venice that he stumbled upon a glassblower and his son who were willing to allow him some time to get his hands on the glass and see how it’s done. This was his first time blowing glass. He spent around four or five hours with the artists and it changed his life. “It’s a unique skillset,” Curnes says. “I liked that anyone could pick up how glass is made, but it takes an artistic flair to put together the colors and the shapes.”
Upon returning home from his European trip, Curnes set up a space in his parents’ garage. “I came home and purchased a small kiln and a small torch to start making beads—which is called lampworking. After time I wanted to make bigger and bigger things; there’s only so big beads can get.”
He obtained a larger kiln and larger burners and moved on to making small, blown glasses and ornaments. “There are so many unique ways to manipulate the glass. I loved that aspect,” Curnes says. “I never got bored.”
When he realized he was spending at least 20 hours a week working on commissioned work from his garage studio, he made the decision to seek out studio space to bring his work—and the work of other local artists—to the Elkhorn area. He left his office job in finance to pursue his artistic career full-time and didn’t look back.
His background in finance has proven beneficial to his role as an artist and studio owner. “There are plenty of starving artists out there,” he says. “It’s not all about the art; 80 percent of my day is dealing with my financials. There’s a lot to running the gallery.”
His financial savvy, coupled with his artistic talents and willingness to serve the community, creates a successful studio. Main Street Studios frequently hosts school groups for tours to familiarize young students with unusual art forms. “Our public schools are phenomenal, but there’s just not enough money to get a kiln-formed glass artist, silversmith, and bronze sculptor in the schools,” Curnes says. He loves conducting these tours, explaining, “Maybe you don’t affect every kid, but maybe somebody walks out with a new appreciation of art.”
Curnes says that new projects are on display every day throughout the gallery. Visitors will not see the same thing with each visit. Resident artists are always available to conduct tours and answer questions. “Come in once a week, or twice a month; our artists are all learning and doing new things—myself included.”
2610 North Main St.
Elkhorn, NE 68022
This sponsored artist profile was printed in the September/October 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.