Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have heard of the renowned American glass sculptor, Dale Chihuly. New York’s Botanical Garden (NYBG) is receiving much-deserved acclaim for its recently opened exhibit of Chihuly’s delicate, yet formidable works, to be found in the conservatory and throughout the garden now, through the end of October. Colourful chandeliers greet visitors.
Download the app as your guide, and hop aboard the tram. It’s the easiest way to navigate the 250-acres currently in late-Summer bloom, with surprise glass flowers and other exuberant objects dotted throughout the journey, in nooks, crannies and water gardens. The palette ranges from vivid primary colours to layered pastels with all sorts of shapes: angles, cylinders, linear, and wave forms.
Dale Chihuly’s career-spanning exhibition
The exhibit, the first at this venue in more than a decade, is more like a retrospective, spanning the 75-year old Chihuly’s career, including pieces from his early days as a sculptor.
The Seattle-based sculptor is credited with pioneering the appreciation of glass, not only as a craft but also as an art form. And collectors have paid attention. One gallery owner quoted the rise in values: Dale Chihuly pieces that went for approximately $5-10,000 USD in 1989, rose more than four times that amount about a decade later.
After graduating from university in the state of Washington with a degree in interior design, he spent time working as a fisherman in Alaska to pay for graduate school. Though Chihuly learned his signature glass-blowing techniques in Venice thanks to a Fulbright Fellowship, it’s at the Rhode Island School of Design where he took his Master’s from and later established and taught an entire glass curriculum.
His installations can be seen all over the world, from Finland to Israel, including, of all places, Las Vegas’ Bellagio hotel, which commissioned a special, illuminated ceiling, made entirely of Chihuly’s brightly coloured glass works.
Chilling with Chihuly
Dale Chihuly has exhibited many times in gardens, out of a desire for others to view his work as if an evolution of nature. David Zax wrote in Smithsonian Magazine, “An encounter with Dale Chihuly’s works is always a spectacular reminder that glass is not just something to see through or drink out of.”
The New York Botanical Garden has special plans for after-hours viewing opportunities, called Chilling with Chihuly Nights, where the gardens will remain open til 10.30pm with sculptures dramatically illuminated against a dark sky. Better yet, they’re also laying on a few musical evenings to celebrate 100 years of Jazz.