I’ve never been all that excited about Chihuly—you know the world famous glass sculpture artist who seems to pop up around the world in less than traditional art venues. I haven’t understood what all the fuss was about. Well, now I know.
Dale Chihuly is not only known for his artistic vision but also his practice of putting together teams of artists with exceptional glass blowing skills. According to the biography on his web site, his efforts, “ have led to the development of complex, dramatic multi-part sculptures of dramatic beauty and scale that place him in the leadership role of moving blown glass out of the confines of the small, precious object and into the realm of large-scale sculpture and environmental art.”
Somehow to me, he seemed over exposed, too commercial, I don’t know, I just didn’t have that emotional connection that one must have with an artist’s work to “love it.”
Then we started going to Chicago fairly frequently for business and often enjoyed breakfast at the NoMi restaurant in the Park Hyatt Hotel on Michigan Avenue.
I grew to be quite fond of the row of large Chihuly light fixtures that hang from the ceiling of this uber cool restaurant. Seemed like just the right juxtaposition of color, form and shape in this seventh floor eaterie with its restful green textured carpet, simple furniture, black and white photos and stunning views of the Water Tower, Chicago Contemporary Art Museum and Lake Michigan beyond.
Art? Decorative Art? Sculpture? I don’t know what to call them. I just know I grew to like them.
But now I’m moved over to the “Big Fan of Chihuly” because of the amazing exhibit of 15 installations at the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in my home town of Grand Rapids, Michigan. If you have time to get there this summer, plan a trip. And plan plenty of time so you can walk around the extensive grounds and enjoy both the pieces installed inside and out as well as this beautiful facility.
The four- month show is in honor of the 15th anniversary of the Gardens and it is stunning. The pieces are nestled in swampy areas, perched on waterfalls and hidden under huge plants. They stick straight up in a fields and creep up hills. Some times they are “in your face,” other times, hidden subtly from view until you round a bend and then can’t help but gasp. “Wow.”
I particularly like the ones that look like icebergs—maybe because they evoke an image in my head of ice floes in Alaska. I had a wonderful experience once on the Inland Waterway of Southeast Alaska on a The Boat Company ship—a trip worth doing.
But I digress. The Chihuly pieces are amazing and I think what I like so much about them is the way they fit into the natural landscape of the Gardens, to be enjoyed my thousands of people this summer. What a lovely escape from whatever reality one is dealing with—whether a difficult time or simply the desire to take a lovely walk in the park. They have the capability of taking you away. And isn’t that what art is all about?
The friend I recently visited the gardens with summed it up, “They belong here. I hope they get to stay.”