Charmed by Chihuly

chihuly's glassSpent the better part of an afternoon at the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, just off the Grand Rapids Beltline. A marvel. The already impressive natural landscapes now provide a backdrop (hmmm, not quite the right word. Nor is ‘sideshow’.) for an installation of Dale Chihuly, whose medium is glass.

But to call Chihuly a glass-worker is sort of like saying Michelangelo was a painter. Chihuly moved chihuly's outdoor installationfrom architecture and weaving to glass early in his career, and forged significant partnerships with glass artisans in various places; to this day, he depends on a team at every phase of the projects he undertakes. What flows out of his mind and studio is amazing (there are some videos available via Redbox–get one!).

chihuly's massive pieceWe’d seen some of his work in Seattle and Cincinnati. So when we heard Meijer Gardens was hosting a full-on installation, we jumped at the chance. It had been scheduled to finish in September, but was held over due to popular demand. Our gain.

Chihuly’s pieces are scattered across the extensive grounds, some weaving seamlessly into their surroundings, others standing out on their own and demanding attention. At glass balls in a boatfirst, it seems like even really well-done human creations would not juxtapose with ‘nature’, but it works, and works well. Maybe because glass is a nearly ‘natural’ product (like the wood, stone and metal of so much other sculpture), and because this urge to create–and to create beauty–is so close to the heart of the first Creator.

chihuly's glass planted like flowersWe’ve been following Chihuly for a couple of years, mesmerized by his fascination with glass. Hard to believe he can do this much with such a humble substance–how he can work it, color it, shape it, and then build these sparkling displays.

Sheer delight (and a few more photos here).

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