Chihuly – The Fine Art of Glassblowing

The Chihuly glass installation finally opened at the Dallas Arboretum – fourteen outdoor sculptures, in total, are spread throughout the gardens. This is one of four public places in Dallas, that I am aware of, with his work on view. All are worth a visit to get a grasp of what this one man has done to revolutionize glass making.

Dale Chihuly (b. 1941) is considered the best glass artist in the world.

Here’s a bit more about the artist:

Dale Chihuly at 2010 TED Conference
(photo: Jurvetson | flickr)

Under a 1968 Fulbright scholarship, Chihuly studied glass making at the Venini glass factory in Venice. This stint in Italy forever changed the way he approached glass making – no longer as a solo glass blower/ gaffer, but as part of a team of 3 – 20 skilled craftspeople and apprentices. He brought this practice to the United Sates when he started a glass program at his alma mater RISD (Rhodes Island School of Design) and opened Pilchuck Glass School, fifty miles north of Seattle, Washington, the state where he was born.

In Dallas, here are four places to visit:

  • Dallas Arboretum (May 5  – November 5)
  • Dallas Museum of Art, on permanent display in the Cafe
  • Seay Biomedical at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, on permanent display in the Lobby Atrium
  • Talley Dunn Gallery. “Dale Chihuly – Recent Works and New Forms” (May 12 –August 18)

Here are photos I took at the Dallas Arboretum last week:

“Float Boat” overlooking White Rock Lake
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

“Mexican Hat and Horn Tower”
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Glass forms echo the white water lilies
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Here are selected images from Talley Dunn Gallery.  It’s an interesting show because you’ll see examples from a wide range of his series (different bodies of work).

The “Persian” series piece below shows how Chihuly became known for pushing the boundaries and limits of glass. How thin could he make the medium go? Very thin. Why be constrained by the old conventions of symmetrical forms? He wasn’t. And, let gravity do its thing allowing molten edges to flop and crimp.

“Persian” series | Talley Dunn Gallery | Dallas, TX
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

The “Chandelier” series started modestly in the early 1990’s, yet a few years later the scale and size expanded. Now, a ton of glass orbs is involved, as well as Medusa-like shapes suggestively twisted into flowers, ribbons, snakes and other organics (see below).

Detail from Ivory Feather and Amber “Chandelier” series | 84” x 73” x 73” | Talley Dunn Gallery | Dallas, TX
(photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Visit the Seay Biomedical Building on the campus of University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UTSWMC). This Chihuly piece – made of 1,100 pieces of brilliant orange blown glass (see below) – rises from a pool of water and extends 1-1/2 stories high. (Note: Behind the scenes, doctors and scientists in the Seay building are working to discover the cure for cancer.)

Chihuly at Seay Biomedical Building at UTSWMC (1999)

Eat at the DMA Café and experience more Chihuly. This time you’ll be near his “Persian” series (see below) and experience another room-sized, architectural installation.

“Persian” series titled “Hart Window” (1995) | Dallas Museum of Art

On a final and upbeat note, I first discovered Chihuly when the DMA hosted an exhibition of his work. I was mesmerized as I walked into the entrance – a long tunnel with a ceiling made of plexiglass and filled with an abundance of oceanic creatures. The glass shapes in the ”Seaforms” series were Chihuly’s memories from beach combing at Puget Sound for shells, jelly fish and mollusks.

“Ceilings” at Olympic Arts Festival (2002)
We were on our feet, yet we still felt transported to an underwater colony and coral reef at the DMA installation.

Be back with a new post on June 3rd.

Enjoy your week.