"Chihuly in the Garden" Now Open at Phoenix's Desert Botanical Garden
Janessa Hilliard Dale Chihuly's Blue Fiori Sun is part of a new 21-piece collection at the Desert Botanical Garden.
Dale Chihuly returns to Desert Botanical Garden this week in the form of
"Chihuly in the Garden," a highly anticipated exhibition of his signature hand-blown glass sculptures. His 12th garden exhibition, and second in the Valley, is installed throughout 55 acres of the 140-acre garden, with the landscape as a color palette for each unique creation.
The world-renowned artist is credited for breathing (literally) new life into the studio glass movement, having studied at university programs across the county and blowing glass at the Venini glass factory in Venice, Italy. His collections are as well traveled as he is, from "Chihuly over Venice" to "Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem," and his first stop in Phoenix for "Chihuly: The Nature of Glass."
It was a relationship perhaps akin to a whirlwind love affair. From November 2008 through the end of May 2009, the Garden hosted its first -- but clearly not its last -- Chihuly exhibition to rave reviews and an incredible amount of foot traffic.
When he talks about it five years later, executive director Ken Schutz favors the adjective "wonderful," calling the exhibition a "wonderful run" and comparing it to being in retail where every day was similar to a being in a big-box store on Black Friday. Phoenicians flooded the Garden to study the intricate details of Chihuly's large, fully formed sculptures and experience the Garden as a work of art.
Janessa Hilliard Chihuly's Summer Sun contains 2,000 individual glass pieces.
They'll have a chance to do much of the same this year with three daily tour options: 8 a.m. to noon, noon to 4 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Schutz anticipates the evening tours to be the most popular, calling the experience three shows in one: a traditional daylight tour, a chance to catch the installations against a desert sunset, and to see them illuminated by carefully considered lighting -- a different art show in itself.
The 21 installations, grandiose in scale but detailed in design, arrived piece by piece in six 53-foot-long containers in late October. The glass is blown and initially created at the Chihuly Studio in Tacoma, Washington, then disassembled and shipped, only to be reconstructed -- without written instruction -- by those same studio workers at gardens and public galleries around the world. In this way, though the idea remains intact and the work precise, the re-creation can never be exact.