Closing Up Shop

By:
Kate Harrison, Chris Richards photo

After nearly a half-century, famed glass artist Tom Philabaum ’83 is retiring and closing up shop. But while he will no longer create glass masterpieces, his contribution to the community will live on.

One of Philabaum’s lasting contributions is the creation of a two-inch-thick glass disc award, known as a Philabaum, that is used to honor those who work for Pima County. Today, hundreds of people have a one-of-a-kind Philabaum award commemorating their contributions and career milestones. 

“It makes me feel … connected to my community and that what I do is part of the community and people value it,” he says. 

In 2018, the Tucson Museum of Art awarded Philabaum its Lifetime Achievement Award and noted that his glassworks are in collections and museums around the world, including Phoenix, Seattle, Italy, Germany and Denmark.