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Ommigod. What an astonishing exhibit, both the art and the design to show off the art. Do see it if you are in the Seattle area.
I had no idea who this Dale Chihuly, a native of Tacoma, and master glass blower, is. I might add that, unlike many artists, Chihuly is also an impresario, as the vast numbers of products and books inspired by his art attest. For decades now, he has commanded factories with legions of apprentice blowers to produce his visions in glass which light up public areas in many of the world’s cities. Look him up on youtube. Lots there.
Like Picasso, Chihuly blows through period after period, hardly pausing to look back, guided by intuition, spontaneity, inner forcefulness. As he said, while instructing one of his hundreds of apprentices (I paraphrase): don’t worry about the form. Just keep practicing, keep on doing it, and the form will take care of itself.
Not only is he a rare, living master of his art, he is also one of the blessed ones who are reconnecting humans to nature through the artistic process. Truly, as we walked through this show in the Exhibition Hall near the Seattle Center, especially as we wandered through the garden outside, there was no escaping the impression that his glass forms are alive, vibrant with energy, communing with the flowers and bushes and stones and trees. As he says in one of the movie shorts that follow the show, something magical (Claudia whispers, “alchemical!”) happens when you focus on glass with” fire and bursts of human breath.”
Here’s a condensation from the 109 photos that I took while there.
Two from early on in his long life (born in 1941):
His drawings show his wild, thrusting, elemental energy particularly vividly. Here’s an octopus, one of the many sea forms that inspire him.
Each of his drawings shows the direction of the piece he instructs his apprentices to make.
Here’s a detail . . .
. . . from a larger piece, which filled the center of one room.
This astonishment is a ceiling installation, above glass . . .
Paula and I showed the show to Mom on this computer. Mom wondered how this piece was installed. Me, too! And I thank sister Paula for pointing me in the direction of the Chihuly exhibit!
Here’s the room itself, and notice the backlit wall, which shows up even more vividly in the photo.
When we entered this long cavernous room with an extraordinary installation covering its entire length, I felt like coming into the presence of the gods. As if we were meant to bow, low, to the large glowing yellow divinity at the end of his court of devotees which, unfortunately can’t really be captured with this camera so far away.
I walked clear around it, taking photos of close-ups, the glassy sea-forms dancing with light . . .
From “behind” the “divinity”:
Next room, two real boats, with his glass forms in them. Chihuly loves to throw the forms into water, and see them splash and bounce. He got the idea of this installation when he collected the forms back into boats. The actual design of this installation is exquisite and impossible to capture with this iPhone.
The second boat:
Room with “chandeliers”:
Paula calls these “clams.” I call them “flowers.” Clam flowers!
This one, to me, looks like a galaxy.
Which came first, the pavilion, or the sculpture?
In the garden. What forms are not alive?
Flamingo-like creatures . . .
Like cobras . . .
Notice the little slug-like black beings crawling out from under the fallen log?
When Claudia saw this sculpture (it’s about 20 feet high), she was inside the pavilion, glancing out. All of a sudden, she saw the big yellow form, and thought it was a real plant, or tree — and literally wondered what planet she was on; the show had transported her so far into interdimensional reality.
Final shot. Had enough?
It was hard for me to get enough of this unfolding explosion of individual creativity that bursts into form via collective effort and has been installed with love and exquisite taste and care right at the foot of the Space Needle. Thank you, Seattle!