Chihuly hall opens with look at glass artist’s career

  • Fri May 4th, 2012 2:57pm
  • Life

By Theresa Goffredo Herald Writer

Get ready because this new exhibition of blown glass might really blow your mind.

The new Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibition at Seattle Center showcases the stunning career of artist Dale Chihuly, whose name as a Northwest artist is synonymous with glass sculpture all over the world.

The exhibition, which opens for the first time May 21, is a retrospective of Chihuly’s career and then some, displaying his drawings, his personal collections of found and reclaimed objects, and his glass pieces, including his Venice works as well as large architectural installations.

Among the larger works on display is a newly created sculpture, one of Chihuly’s largest, dramatically suspended in the Glasshouse.

As the name implies, Chihuly Garden and Glass also features an outdoor garden with more large art installations. The whole exhibition brings together an immersive art experience that celebrates the Pacific Northwest’s “creative energy and inspires visitors to engage with the cultural community” of the region, said Michelle Bufano, executive director of Chihuly Garden and Glass.

The six main features of the Chihuly Garden and Glass are:

The Exhibition Hall, where visitors may see the most comprehensive assembly of Chihuly’s significant series of work in eight galleries and on three Drawing Walls.

The Glasshouse, which is literally a 40-foot-tall glass- and-steel house covering 4,500 square feet, encases the large suspended glass sculpture made of 1,400 pieces in reds, oranges, yellows and ambers. It measures 100 feet long.

The Garden, which encompasses paths lined with trees, plants and flowers, is a natural stage setting for four of Chihuly’s monumental works including “Sun,” a blast of yellow and orange in the center of a bed of black mondo grass.

The Theater shows short videos of Chihuly at work, and visitors see the hotshop process.

The Collections Cafe is in the Exhibition Hall and features pieces from Chihuly’s personal collections such as vintage radios and cameras, accordions, shaving brushes and carnival chalkware figures.

The cafe was designed to match Chihuly’s studio with spruce plank walls, bright green chairs and Marmoleum floors. It serves food that is locally grown.

The Bookstore offers books and other items about local artists and Chihuly’s artworks, including some studio editions and prints.

Among his many works and achievements, Chihuly also founded the Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood with patrons Anne Gould Hauberg and John H. Hauberg.

Chihuly, who was born in Tacoma, has exhibited his pieces around the world. His signature black eye patch covers his left eye, which was blinded by glass in a car accident in England.

Chihuly can no longer hold the long glass pipe used in glass-blowing following a body surfing accident in 1979. He hires other artisans to actually produce the glass pieces he designs.

Dale Chihuly is also known as a supporter of the arts including arts for younger generations. He brought glass-blowing to eighth-graders in the Seattle Public Schools by being instrumental in creating a science curriculum based on the art form.

Theresa Goffredo: 425-339-3424;

Chihuly Garden and Glass

The exhibit opens May 21 at the Seattle Center, 305 Harrison St. General admission is $19 for adults, $17 for seniors, $12 for youth, and free for children 3 and younger. For tickets or more information