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Avant-Garde Glass as Fine Art - Chihuly Garden and Glass

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Located at Seattle Center, Chihuly Garden and Glass is an imaginative oasis that celebrates the inspiration and life’s work of local artist Dale Chihuly.

Who is Dale Chihuly?
Washington native Dale Chihuly enrolled in the glass blowing program at the University of Wisconsin in 1965. In 1968, Chihuly was awarded the Fulbright Fellowship where he went to work at the Venini factory in Venice, learning his now identifiable technique of team glass blowing.

In 1971, Chihuly cofounded the Pilchuck Glass School, and is currently known as the educational leader in blending an avant-garde aesthetic with glass as fine art.

“We use the same tools today [in glass blowing] used 2,000 years ago. The difference is that when I started, everyone wanted to control the blowing process. I just went with it. The natural elements of fire, movement, gravity and centrifugal force were always there, and are always with us.” – Dale Chihuly


Chihuly Garden and Glass

Chihuly began development plans for the 1.5-acre plot with Center Art. Keeping environmental best practice in mind, the group chose to repurpose existing buildings for the project. Chihuly decided to use specific artworks from his career, combined with new sculptures for the site.


Take a Tour

Journey through the breathtaking Glasshouse, the eight galleries and three Drawing Walls of the Exhibition Hall and the lush Garden exhibits of Chihuly Garden and Glass.
The Glasshouse
The centerpiece of Chihuly Garden and Glass is the Glasshouse. A 40-foot tall, glass and steel structure covering 4,500 square feet of light-filled space, the Glasshouse is the result of Chihuly’s lifelong appreciation for conservatories.

At the center of the Glasshouse sits a 100-foot long sculpture in a color palette of reds, oranges, yellows and amber.

The Exhibition Hall

The eight galleries and three Drawing Walls of the Exhibition Hall offer a widespread collection of Dale Chihuly’s significant series of work. The artworks demonstrate how he pushes the boundaries of glass as an art medium in concept, execution and presentation.

Presenting some of Chihuly’s early experiments with glass, the Northwest Room features a Tabac Baskets table, wooden shelves with Baskets and Cylinders, along with Soft Cylinders and Edward S. Curtis photogravures, Northwest Coast Indian baskets and American Indian trade blankets.
We only have a web version of this image, so we may have to cut.

Some of the not-to-miss gallery installations include Glass Forest – artwork featuring electrically charged neon and argon glass stalks or stems created by simultaneously blowing and pouring molten glass from the top of a stepladder to the floor below.

Throughout various artworks in the Sealife Room, Chihuly interprets various elements of life in the water. A Tower and vessels with sculpted sea life forms such as starfish, octopus, conch shells, sea anemones, urchins and manta rays are presented along with several Sealife Drawings.

Chihuly began the Persian series in 1986 while experimenting with new forms. Originally, he displayed Persians in pedestal compositions, often with smaller shapes nested in larger pieces. Later, working with an architectural framework, he mounted larger forms to walls and suspended them as overhead compositions. The first Persian Ceiling was presented in his 1992 exhibition at the opening of the downtown Seattle Art Museum.


The Garden

Anchored by four monumental sculptures, the exhibition Garden provides an opportunity for discovery and surprise. A rich backdrop for the art, it features paths lined with trees, plants and flowers.

 “I want my work to appear as though it came from nature so if someone found it… they might think it belonged there” – Dale Chihuly

Chihuly Garden and Glass
305 Harrison Street
Seattle, Washington 98109


By: Doug Smith

Photos: Allen Carrasco and Chihuly Garden and Glass

Posted in: Travel
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