Dale Chihuly has revolutionized
the art of handblown glass. Below you will see how he takes his dazzling
glass 'plants' and places them in the Desert Botanical Gardens in
Phoenix, Arizona, creating a surreal setting.
Come take a look!
Walking into the
Desert Botanical Gardens, these light catching towers are the first
art pieces to greet you. Inspired by the agave plant, these towers
are the color of spring green and chartreuse!
Chihuly uses as few tools as possible and his purpose is to make the
glass look as though it comes from nature itself. Shaping this glass
in an unorthodox manner, art critics have described his work as
familiar with the rugged beauty of the desert sometimes think it
looks barren, stark. The desert is populated with survivors - those
beings who are able to adapt to harsh and unpredictable
circumstances. Seeing the desert from this perspective, one can't
help but gain a respect
for the life forms here.
Dale does not
hand blow all the pieces of glass in his extensive exhibits. He
takes the lead, designs the pieces, and has well-respected glass
blowing establishments complete the work. He also focuses on the
placement of his brilliant glass sculptures so that they enhance,
not detract from, the natural landscape.
Blue and Green
Known for his
mammoth and unrestrained installations around the globe, seeing the
subtlety here with his Blue and Green Ferns brought a gentle
compliment to the desert flora.
He explains his
core artistic philosophy as being 'a concentration on the phenomenon
of light being transmitted through colored glass.'
accomplished: the manner in which the light passes through these
ferns is captivating!
Tower looks much like a giant Saguaro cactus, a sentinel of desert
scenery. The piece appears much at home here among the everyday
Chihuly is known world-wide for his innovative, vibrant-colored
glass sculptures on a grand scale, this particular exhibit is his
first in a desert setting.
A closer look
reveals the twisted and delicate tubes that catch sunlight during
the day, and light up with electricity at night.
Botanical Gardens also offer night tours, a very popular option
during the heat of the summer.
Here you see the
cobalt blue and white moon nestled in with boulders. In the desert,
boulders provide microhabitats where moisture and soil accumulate.
Wildflowers and plants take advantage of the shady cool places on
their north side, sunny warm areas on their south side, and
especially benefit from the protection that boulders provide from
foraging wildlife and cattle.
Mexican Hat and
This is an
audacious display of color and form. Brilliant red and yellow, you
can almost hear this art piece!
A closer look at
the artistry involved. A bodacious blend of delicate glass and bold
If you have ever
dreamed of having unique garden art for your own home, walking through this Chihuly display gave plenty of ideas.
Martins and Floats
Rounding a bend,
or coming over a rise, we'd see vast displays of glass. These
brilliant blue reeds created a cooling beauty in the hot desert.
Here's a nearer
view. You can see the ribs of the reeds and the blue float on the
ground. Hard to put into words, but enchanting, isn't it?
internationally acclaimed Desert Botanical Gardens have a living
collection of over 20,000 desert plants, with particular emphasis on
those inhabiting our Arizona's Sonoran Desert. There is a great
diversity of forms and types of plants in desert ecosystems,
dispelling the myth that deserts are 'empty wastelands.'
two saguaros there is another view of red reeds among desert life.
Part of the charm of this glass among desert plants is the ability
to capture breathtaking views by seemingly chance occurrence; a
three dimensional experience. Many of the works can be spied from
the side or the rear or through gaps in the thicket of the garden's
The Garden is
renowned for its cactus collection, which includes more than 10,350
A snug view of
the many glass floats spilling out onto the desert floor. Each one
is uniquely colored and designed.
temperatures during spring easily hover in the 100's so these
shady sections of the walkways are a pleasure to discover. In the
summer, it's best to get to the Desert Gardens bright and early in the day or
during evening hours.
your hat and sunscreen!
The deep red
color of these glass fiddleheads stand out bluntly from the paler
color of desert flora. The contrast is visually exciting.
view of these beauties.
To the left of
the photo you can see a saguaro cactus. The ribs of the saguaro
allow the cactus to expand and contract in response to the amount of
moisture it is storing. The ability to store water is an adaptation
that helps saguaros live in the desert where they can survive
several months without rain.
A large saguaro
can store up to 6 tons of water, and lose up to 2/3 of its stored
water and still live. If the ridges are deeply set instead of
rounded, you can tell that the cactus is using its stored water to
survive. Shallow, wide spreading roots quickly draw up rainwater
even after a very short rain. Additional roots, called ‘rain roots’
grow within a few hours of a rainfall to capture even more moisture.
Here I am with my
shade hat in front of the Scorpion Tails display.
Blue and Purple
There seemed no
ending to being taken aback at Chihuly's capture of color and light.
He is quite skilled at being able to evoke emotion through color and
The cool blue and
purple was a delightful visual contrast to the day's heat and
Colors are true
If ever you have
the opportunity to see a Chihuly display or to venture into the
Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix, Arizona, snatch it up! You
won't be disappointed.
Garden in Phoenix, Arizona: 1201 N. Galvin Parkway, Tele:
480.941.1225, Hours: 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. Non-member prices are Adults -
$15, Seniors, $13.50, Students - $7.50, children 3 - 12 $5.00. Under
3 admitted free.
their outstanding events and exhibits, music and food, art classes,
tai chi in a desert setting and more by going to
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