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Glass smoking pipes, bongs get high art treatment at National Liberty Museum

This spring, glass smoking pipes get the high art treatment, courtesy of a new exhibit coming to the National Liberty Museum in Old City.

This spring, glass smoking pipes get the high art treatment, courtesy of a new exhibit coming to the National Liberty Museum in Old City.

Dubbed "The Treachery of Images," the exhibit, which will run from April 7 to May 7, features glass hand pipes and water pipes from more than 20 prominent pipe-makers and other glass artists. Work on display at the exhibit will also be available for purchase.

The exhibit takes its name from a 1929 painting of the same name by Belgian surrealist artist René Magritte. Featuring an image of a pipe underlined with the phrase "Ceci n'est pas une pipe" (or "This is not a pipe"), the painting challenges viewers to question their interpretations of reality by pointing out that the painting is not a pipe, but a representation of a pipe.

The NLM's "Treachery" exhibit will operate on a similar principle, placing the often-maligned functional glass subculture in the type of space usually reserved for the mainstream art world, which historically has marginalized pipe-makers due to their art's association with smoking marijuana. In that way, the exhibit seems to ask viewers to consider that the pipes at NLM aren't pipes, either — or at least not just pipes, but also works of art.

Philadelphia, of course, has long been a hot spot in the functional glass art world, thanks to the city playing host to a number of influential pipe-makers and glass pipe studios, such as the glass world-renowned Mount Krushmore studio in North Philadelphia. Jeremy Grant-Levine, who is based out of Krushmore under the name Germ, also made headlines last year with 1,000 Glass Cranes, a non-pipe project the artist funded with a Kickstarter that raised more than $90,000.

Germ's work, which typically sells for thousands of dollars in glass galleries and headshops alike, will be included as part of the "Treachery" exhibit, along with pieces from fellow Philly pipe-makers Marble Slinger, Diet Glass, Wayne McDermott of Rockstar Glassworks, and others. The exhibit will combine pipe-forward artists' work with more traditional glass art from names like neon glass artist Eve Hoyt and Chicago-based glassblower Joe Ivacic.

The exhibit kicks off Friday, April 7 at 5:30 p.m. with an opening reception featuring participating artists discussing their work and greeting visitors. Admission that night is free, but donations are suggested.

"The Treachery of Images" will run 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week. Entry into the exhibit is included with regular museum admission, which runs between $2 and $7, depending on age.

More information about "The Treachery of Images" is available on the National Liberty Museum's website.