Monday, August 15, 2016

JEWEL BOXES: The luminous, mesmerizing world of glass artist Dale Chihuly

I want people to be overwhelmed with light and color in a way they have never experienced.
Read more at:
I want people to be overwhelmed with light and color in a way they have never experienced.
Read more at:
"I want people to be overwhelmed by light and color
in a way they have never experienced."
                                                                             ... Dale Chihuly

 Glass forest by Dale Chihuly (2003)
All photographs by Michael Schonbach

Mesmerizing ... zany ... color-saturated ... puzzling ... elegant ... exotic ... These and many other adjectives have been used in an attempt to describe the extraordinary qualities of glass artist Dale Chihuly's dazzling artwork. My recent visit to downtown Seattle's Chihuly Garden and Glass confirmed that this 74-year-old Tacoma, WA native's talents are not only singular, but immensely entertaining to boot. Chihuly Garden and Glass, a long-term exhibition, opened in 2012 at the Seattle Center and quickly has become a destination crowd-pleaser.

Chihuly was introduced to glassmaking as an interior design student at the University of Washington. In 1965, he enrolled in the first glass program in the country, at the University of Wisconsin; he continued his studies at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), where he later established and taught for more than a decade in the school's the glass program. 

 Mille Fiore (A Thousand Flowers)

In 1968, Chihuly received a Fulbright Fellowship, and went to work at the Venini glass factory in Venice. There he observed the team approach to blowing glass, 
which is essential to the way he works today. 

Ikebana and float boats (c.1995)

This installation, a wooden boat filled with glass orbs,
was inspired by Chihuly's childhood memories of seeing Japanese 
fishing boat floats along Puget Sound's beaches, as well as
the Japanese art of Ikebana (precise, formal flower arranging).

In 1971, Chihuly cofounded Pilchuck Glass School in Washington State; with this educational center, he led the avant-garde in the development of glass as a fine art. His work is included in more than 200 museum collections worldwide, including at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, the de Young Museum in San Francisco, over the canals and piazzas of Venice (sculptures for this project were crafted at glass factories in Finland, Ireland, and Mexico), the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the V & A Museum in London, Royal Botanic Gardens (Kew), and The Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem. 

Left and below: Luminous, exuberant chandeliers by Chihuly. The artist has a longtime interest in the way art and architecture interact. In his 1995-1996 project Chihuly over Venice, he pushed the envelope on scale and placement, creating thirteen chandeliers to be hung in different sites throughout the city. Five of these installations from, or inspired by, Chihuly over Venice are included in the Seattle Center exhibition.

Below: Sealife Tower

The artist's love of the sea always shines through his work. This powerful 15-foot structure -- which includes forms such as starfish, octopus, conch shells, sea anemones, 
urchins and manta rays -- was inspired by the ocean and specifically by 
Puget Sound. The Towers evolved from Chihuly's desire to exhibit sculpture 
in spaces where ceilings could not withstand the weight of chandeliers. 

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Persian Ceiling 
This spectacular installation is lit from above and rests on a clear glass pane. 
It's part of the artist's Persians series (begun in 1986), a bold experiment in form and color incorporated into an architectural framework. Smaller shapes nestle inside 
larger ones, and the entire work can be seen either as one seamless piece, 
or as a collection of distinct design elements.  

Perhaps one of my favorite of Michael's photos from our visit on 7/2/16:
a hanging flower sculpture in the  shadow of the Space Needle

This orange and yellow suspended sculpture seems
to stretch forever inside the glass house that leads out to the garden.
It is 100 feet long and contains 1,340 individual pieces.

Chihuly has said that memories of his mother's abundant gardens 
serve as constant inspiration to his work. His lifelong fascination for glasshouses has
grown into a series of exhibitions within botanical settings. 

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Below: I modestly call this extravaganza of purple glass and greenery
Judy's Magical Garden. 

Chihuly's Garden Cycle began in 2001 at the Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago. 
Other major exhibition venues for this cycle include the de Young Museum in 
San Francisco (2008); the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2011); 
and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (2013).  
I'm an artist, a designer, a craftsman, interior designer, half-architect. There's no one name that fits me very well.
Read more at:

For more information about Dale Chihuly's life, philosophy and politics
please visit the link below.

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originally posted 7.10.16

1 comment:

  1. I apologize for the inconsistency of font size in this posting. Sometimes my blog has a mind of its own, and refuses to do what I ask!
    ~ JP