Local woman is First City Art Center rising star

Jody Conrad | Special to the Press Gazette

As the First City Art Center in Pensacola prepares for its annual Pumpkin Patch fundraiser, a Milton woman shines as a rising star as a glass blower.

As a military wife, Angie Hawkins is no stranger to reinventing herself. But she is also a cancer survivor who battled the odds while in her 20s. Today she is finding her rhythm in the art world as a glass blower.

Keith Jones and Angie Hawkins work on another glass piece that will become a pumpkin for the upcoming fundraiser.

“I was diagnosed with a rare muscle tissue cancer when I was 20, but I refused to allow it to define me," Hawkins said. "I never let this stop me from anything, including raising my two children, working full-time, and doing volunteer work wherever my husband was stationed.

“My message to everyone is ‘Whatever you have your heart set on, you can do it, regardless of what you have to overcome,’” she added.

Now that Hawkins and her husband, who is an airline pilot, are permanently settled in Milton, she found the time to finally get involved in a hobby that has always intrigued her.

“When we were stationed in Germany I made frequent visits to a glass-blower in Poland," Hawkins said. "The work this artist did fascinated me. Fast forward many years to being here in Milton, and my daughter bought me a ‘make your own glass bowl session’ one year for my birthday at the First City Art Center. The rest is history!”

Several completed pumpkins are ready for the First City Art Center's annual fundraiser beginning Oct. 9.

Hawkins went on the take the necessary classes. Then she enlisted Keith Jones, the center’s "Hot Shop” assistant, as her private instructor. Today Hawkins is Jones’ assistant.

The First City Art Center is a non-profit art center that engages the local community with the art world through classes, workshops, youth and outreach programs, and gallery exhibits. It offers the only glass-blowing facility in Northwest Florida, and nurtures budding artists in a multitude of art venues.

The center’s annual fundraiser features the glass and ceramic work of around 25 different artists who will have the fruits of their labors for sale at the Pumpkin Patch.

“Our major funding for the year comes from our Pumpkin Patch event, and the funds support not only the local artists, but the work the center does as well,” Hawkins said.

Angie Hawkins begins the glassblowing process by adding glass to a heated stick.

The First City Art Center’s annual Pumpkin Patch event begins at 9 a.m. Oct. 9 at the Blue Wahoos Stadium in Pensacola.