Truly Chihuly

Symbiotic Art In The Landscape
American Glass Sculptor Dale Chihuly Enchants Tourists in New York and Around the World

By Mary & Hugh Williamson

Dale Chihuly

Artist, designer and glassblower Dale Chihuly’s work has celebrated a symbiotic merger of art and life around the world for decades.  Readers have likely enjoyed his thrilling exhibitions such as those at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California and the Morean Arts Center in St. Petersburg, and now at the spectacular Exposition entitled simply “Chihuly”, at the New York Botanical Garden.  Mr. Chihuly’s glass garden elements enhance what nature offers. His art, along with nature, meld perfectly into a true delight.   Drawings are part of the exhibition as well, and offer a glimpse into the inspiration of the artist.

A Little History
There has long been a grand debate:  Does art imitate life, or does life imitate art?   Plato, Aristotle and even Oscar Wilde all weighed in with passion.  Vincent van Gogh and esteemed American artist Robert Rauschenberg had a lot to say about it, as well. Does it matter?  Probably not to artist Chihuly, and not likely to matter to those privileged to immerse themselves in the cheerful combination of fantasy and “real life.”

“Lying, the telling of beautiful untrue things, is the proper aim of Art.”  — Oscar Wilde’s Essay “The Decay of Lying”  1891

“Art partly completes what nature cannot bring to a finish, and partly imitates her.”  — Aristotle, Physics 350 BCE

It is clear that Seattle-based Chihuly has his own take!

Salk Institute in La Jolla, California


Triumphant Return to New York City
In numerous interviews, Dale Chihuly has consistently shared thoughts that his work “revolves around a simple set of circumstances: fire, molten glass, human breath, spontaneity, centrifugal force, gravity.”  That combination continues to impact the art world, and surely will impact the fortunate visitors to this decade-long wait for Chihuly’s return to the New York Botanical Garden.

The backdrop of the classic and beautiful buildings at the New York Botanical Garden with all their luxuriant foliage and sparkling water features provides the perfect complement to the incredible color, shimmer, shine and glamour of the Chihuly glass environmental art extravaganza. This lauded event featuring his work opened on April 22, a full decade after his first feted 2006 event. Visitors can be enchanted with this display through October 29, 2017, as the seasonal changes keep it fresh and ever-changing through the coming months. And as daylight wanes, Chihuly Nights will afford the visitor even more thrilling appeal with his illumination-enhanced glass designs.  These offer a nod to nature, rather than suggesting its improvement or replacement. His works have been likened to theme-park settings, but the results are breathtaking; perhaps the best of both art and life.

Macchia Forest, 2017, The New York Botanical Garden

Exhibition Highlights
Favorites of the New York Exhibition include the massive “Seaforms” set within a classical columned stage, reminiscent of Poseidon’s mythical dwellings.  It is stark, but organic and rather seductive, while sited alone on what feels like an ocean floor.  The presentation is very compelling.

Another favorite, “Macchia Forest” includes signature Chihuly forms that in this instance suggest wild, overgrown blooms. Chihuly’s Macchia Series has evolved from his first study in 1981, the moniker being derived from the word for “spot” in Italian. Each work being “spotted” with color, the outcome is achieved by rolling the molten glass in shards of colored glass as the piece is formed in an intricate process. Now, mounted on structural elements that are evocative of stems, the work is a symbiotic presentation alongside live foliage.

Can’t get to New York This Summer?  Another Chihuly Venue May Be Nearby
If your summer travels don’t bring you to New York, you may find there’s a Chihuly exhibit near your intended destination – both in the United States or abroad. Traveling to the Sunshine State, consider stopping by the permanent Chihuly exhibit at the Morean Arts Center in St. Petersburg, the museum of which is celebrating its 100th birthday. Be sure to check out the stunning boat and globes (shown).

Over the years, the artist has created a number of memorable installations including “Chihuly Over Venice” with the sculptures installed over the canals and piazze; “Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem”, attended by more than one million visitors, and the “Chihuly Bridge of Glass” in Tacoma, Washington.

Truly Chihuly