July 30, 2016

7/29/16 – Chihuly Garden

My daughter Laura suggested a trip to the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum in Seattle. The museum is at Seattle Center, which is one of the few places I can actually find downtown because the Space Needle is always visible. I met Laura at the office where she works and we walked over.  (And who says it always rains in Seattle?  This looks like clear blue sky to me.)
Dale Chihuly is a glass studio artist from Tacoma, whose blown glass works are considered unique.   My theory is that he started working in glass because the furnaces helped keep him warm here in the Pacific Northwest.  (Yes, it’s been a rather mediocre July weather-wise in Seattle, and I still don’t have my summer clothes unpacked...I am a little whiny.)

I know I could never do anything with glass.  It’s amazing to watch it be done, pulling a blob of so-hot-you-can’t-imagine-it glass out of a furnace, then letting it drip and glop and manipulate it to form simple things like a vase or exotic sculptures like Chihuly does.  But I’d get burned and cut and I’d break things...it’s sort of standard operating procedure of being me.  I knew I’d have to be really careful in this place. Gives the whole "you break it, you buy it" a whole different focus!

There are 8 rooms of exhibits in the main building, a glasshouse and an outside garden.  One good thing about glass—it may be fragile, but at least it doesn’t rust!


Glass Forest – I think this room is supposed to be a forest at night. It reminds me the dancing ostriches in Fantasia.  (Original version, not the one from 2000.)
      Northwest Room – This exhibit contains Chihuly’s experiments with glass to look like baskets, which I don't think worked real well.  There's also a “sampling” of his personal collection of Northwest Coast Indian blankets. For some reason, when I think about Indian blankets, I think Southwest instead of Northwest.  I stand corrected...and really impressed! (With the blankets, not so much the baskets.)
Sealife Room – The big blue Sealife Tower was Chihuly’s answer to ceilings that couldn’t hold the weight of his huge chandeliers.  (Don’t hang the glass; put it on the floor and build the chandelier upside-down so it looks like a gigantic vase covered with anemones.)  Sculpture of the tower on the left; closeup of the top on the right.

The Vessels include little critters that live in Puget Sound, like the crab below.  Some of them were really subtle, and I liked them a lot.  I wonder if it was because they weren’t as extravagant as many of the other pieces?

      Persian Ceiling  - This is like a big hallway between two other rooms. I loved this exhibit with the vibrant colors and details of the flowers. Come in; look up; deal with the neck pain later.  The individual pieces rest on a flat glass pane, and are lit from above.  (Gravity is one of those laws of nature that you mostly ignore, but all that glass above me is beginning to worry me a bit.)

Mille Fiori – Inspired by his mother’s garden. Must have been some garden--mine never would have worked as inspiration, unless some of those things are weeds gone to seed. I asked one of the guards how often they cleaned the exhibits.  She said it was done every day before the museum opened.  (One more job I wouldn’t apply for—“Oops!” is not something they’d want to hear around all these breakables...)
Ikebana and Float Boat – Two wooden rowboats filled with Japanese-inspired Ikebana flowers and fishing net floats, as seen through Chihuly’s imagination.
          Chandeliers – When I think Chihuly, I think chandeliers.  I’m always impressed, but think    about gravity again...

      Macchia Forest – This series was an experiment to use all 300 colors available in the hotshop.  These aren’t delicate little bowls—check out the size of them compared to the people standing next to the pedestals.

Glasshouse – This was inspired by conservatories.  The suspended sculpture is 40’ long. (Thinking about gravity, cables and glass this time.)
Chandelier Walkway – Just through the Glasshouse is this covered walkway with more chandeliers. Since you’re looking out anyway, you might as well focus on the Space Needle too.
Garden – There are four monumental sculptures outside, and smaller glass flowers mixed with flowers in the real garden.  I don’t know who cleans these either, or how often.  Again, it wouldn’t be me.  I took more pictures here than I did inside—deal with it.

Click for lots more pics:  Chihuly Glass and Garden