Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Chihuly effect--this time in Atlanta!

Just in case you've been hiding under a rock for the last generation or so, I thought I should inform you that Dale Chihuly has performed a remarkable feat of not only creating astonishing, spectacular sculpture, but partnering with dozens of botanic gardens around the world to display his work in different contexts which result in many things. The sculptures often light up dark corners of gardens where they are placed, or they dance wildly with the colors around them. Both the gardens and the sculptures gain somehow in this operation (although naysayers will say nay)...what is undeniable is that every garden graced with Chihuly sculptures experiences a colossal explosion at the box office: numbers of visitors and often members are doubled...and I've been told that the effect continues indefinitely. I doubt we could underestimate the impact Chihuly has had on raising awareness of public horticulture, and the countless millions of dollars in hard cash that have accrued to the participating gardens as a consequence. Of course, Dale and his army of associates benefit as well--but I'm not sure that's what's uppermost in their minds. I believe Public Horticulture owes Chihuly an enormous debt of gratitude. This images were taken last September when I visited Atlanta Botanic Gardens (their second--maybe third?--round of Chihuly). I believe the placement of these at Atlanta was exemplary--and I hope you'll enjoy these rather rapidly snapped images as much as I am doing three months later in frosty, early winter here in Colorado!

I will hardly need to comment on each picture, but here the artistic punning of art and nature needs a bit of a verbal smirk!

The extraordinary conservatory and tropical collections out-Chihuly art in their extravagant beauty. I was fortunate to spend an afternoon with Ron Determann--curator of tropicals in Atlanta and perhaps the greatest public gardener in America. Atlanta packs multiple wallops of excellence!

Is it Chihuly in miniature or just pomegranates?

Here is their permanent Chihuly installation in the parterre that was undergoing transformation (the box hedges--like boxwoods elsewhere in the East--will soon be a thing of the past.)

A closer look

I loved this courtyard...

The Mosaiculture goddess is from a previous exhibit--but she seems to enjoy the Chihuly baubles placed to distract her from her endless waterfall...

Another view

From the amazing raised walk...

These remind me of balloons. I'm not sure that's a good thing?

Let's not forget the magic of nature sans sculpture...

Like a crane version of the Blue Man troop...

The end! Thank you Atlanta and thank you Dale for a magical interlude...


  1. One word: What Chihuly does is the worst kind of kitsch, cheap vulgarization which I don't find the least bit attractive. Eye-catching ("Gee Whiz") yes, beautiful? Hardly. But the plebs loves it. That stuff does not belong in botanic gardens, it should be in the back rooms of second hand stores!

    1. You are far from being the only nay-sayer! And your opinion and passion are welcome. But can I help it if some of us commoners are dazzled by bright and shiny objects? I imagine the Parthenon marbles were pretty garish in their fresh state--and many prefer the mellowed patina of decay. I, for one, would love to see what the Venus de Milo was really holding! The prospect of exposing large new sections of the public to horticulture (which they might not have seen otherwise) merits the fuss and bother when it's done (within limits, I agree) in MY opinion. I underscore that at Atlanta and in Denver too, the sculptures were present in only a fraction of the spaces: there was lots untouched. I shall squirm the next time I haunt the back room of a second hand store (and hope I happen on a Chihuly while I'm squirming!).

  2. I didn't think I would like the Chihuly exhibit at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, but I did. It seemed to me that the glass sculptures enhanced many parts of the garden, and drew my attention to areas I might otherwise have missed. Anonymous comes across as someone trying too hard to have better taste than mere plebs. Silly. Just enjoy it.


Featured Post

A garden near lake Tekapo

The crevice garden of Michael Midgley Just a few years old, this crevice garden was designed and built by Michael Midgley, a delightful ...

Blog Archive