Editor's note: The Desert Botanical Garden provided source material to Resource Library for the following article. If you have questions or comments regarding the source material, please contact the Desert Botanical Garden directly through either this phone number or web address:


Chihuly: The Nature of Glass

November 22, 2008 - May 31, 2009


The Desert Botanical Garden is presenting an exhibition by renowned artist Dale Chihuly. Chihuly: The Nature of Glass features new and unique works of glass artfully located throughout the Garden. Dale Chihuly is known for his innovative glass sculptures, and his work is immediately recognizable for its grand scale and vibrant colors.

Chihuly's spectacular creations are found in more than 200 museums worldwide including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, London's Victoria and Albert Museum and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Garden exhibitions of his work have been mounted at the New York Botanical Garden, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Atlanta Botanical Garden, Missouri Botanical Garden, Phipps Conservatory and the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. This is Chihuly's first exhibition in an outdoor desert environment.


About the artist

Dale Chihuly has been influential within the Studio Glass movement. He continues to revolutionize the art of handblown glass. Working in a generally free-form and unorthodox manner, the results of his approach elicit widespread admiration from the full spectrum of viewers, with one art historian calling his work "liquid light."

Chihuly's work is included in more than 200 museum collections worldwide including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Among the many museums in which his work has been exhibited are the Louvre's Musée des Arts Décoratifs and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. Some of the great botanical gardens have recently exhibited his work, such as the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, and the New York Botanical garden. His corporate installations include the famous ceiling sculpture at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

Born in 1941 and raised in Tacoma, Washington, Chihuly studied interior design and architecture at the University of Washington in Seattle, earning his BA in 1965. In that same year, Chihuly blew his first glass bubble. He attended graduate school on scholarship at the University of Madison where he studied glass under Harvey Littleton. That same year Chihuly received a Fulbright scholarship to study at the Venini glass factory in Venice. The following year Chihuly became part of the faculty of RISD and established a glass program there. In 1971, he cofounded the Pilchuck Glass School near Stanwood, Washington.

Through the 1970s Chihuly divided his time between RISD and Pilchuck and developed his team model of blowing glass that he had learned from Venini. During those years Chihuly also developed a core philosophy. "I am less concerned with being narrative or figurative. I am involved in the glass and the light that passes through it -- the phenomenon of light being transmitted through colored glass."

Over the years Chihuly created a wide vocabulary of blown forms. Earlier series from the late 1970s through the 1990s, such as Baskets, Seaforms, Ikebana, Venetians, and Chandeliers have been augmented with the new Fiori-or flower- forms. "Over time I developed the most organic, natural way of working with glass, using the least amount of tools that I could. The glass looks as if it comes from nature." Some of these new flower forms are reminiscent of his early installations made at Pilchuck in the 1970s, so Chihuly has come full circle with his vocabulary of forms. In his garden installations, the artist juxtaposes his forms with those of nature establishing a direct and immediate dialog between nature, art, and light.


Major Installations

Chihuly Over Venice - 1995-96
Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem - 2000
Chihuly in the Park: A Garden of Glass at Chicago's Garfield Park Conservatory - 2001-2002
The Chihuly Bridge of Glass, Tacoma - 2002
Mille Fiori at the Tacoma Art Museum - 2003
Chihuly at the de Young, San Francisco, CA - 2008


Garden Installations

Chicago's Garfield Park Conservatory - 2001
Atlanta Botanical Gardens - 2004
Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew - 2005
Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden, Coral Gables, Florida - 2006
Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis - 2006
New York Botanical Garden - 2006
Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania - 2007

Chihuly Installations at Desert Botanical Garden

Location: Ottosen Gallery
Transparent Tabac Basket Set with Drawing Shards and Oxblood Body Wraps, 2008
16 x 19 x 17"
Tabac Basket Set with Drawing Shards and Oxblood Body Wraps, 2008
12 x 15 x 14"
Tabac Basket Grouping with Drawing Shards and Oxblood Body Wraps, 2008
Dimensions variable
Tabac Basket with Drawing Shards and Oxblood Body Wrap, 2008
13 x 18 x 14"
Tabac Basket Grouping with Drawing Shards and Oxblood Body Wraps, 2008
Dimensions variable
Tabac Basket Set with Drawing Shards and Oxblood Body Wraps, 2008
20 x 18 x 18"
Black Cylinder #61, 2008
8 x 8 x 8"
Black Cylinder #62, 2008
23 x 7 x 7"
Black Cylinder #63, 2008
14 x 12 x 12"
Black Cylinder #64, 2008
26 x 8 x 8"
Seville Orange Macchia with Spring Green Lip Wrap, 2004
24 x 36 x 32"
Purple Aster Macchia with Rose Red Lip Wrap, 2004
20 x 29 x 27"
Chrome Green Macchia with Cyan Lip Wrap, 2006
25 x 37 x 33"
Imperial Blue Macchia with Bright Yellow Lip Wrap, 2006
22 x 36 x 29"
Lily Gold Macchia with Rose Lip Wrap, 2007
24 x 40 x 33"
Norse Blue Macchia with Cardinal Lip Wrap, 2007
23 x 36 x 31"
Toreador Red Macchia with Leaf Green Lip Wrap, 2007
24 x 39 x 30"
Deep Sapphire Blue Macchia with Pallid Violet Lip Wrap, 1994
21 x 35 x 37"
Deep Red Macchia with Yellow Lip Wrap, 1994
23 x 34 x 34"
Chartreuse Green Macchia with Navy Blue Lip Wrap, 1995
27 x 36 x 30"
Basket Quad Drawing, 2001
84 x 60"
Ikebana Drawing with Starbursts, 2007
42 x 30"
Pewter and Gold Ikebana Drawing, 2007
42 x 30"
Ikebana Drawing with Olive Sprays, 2007
42 x 30"
Location: Sybil B. Harrington Succulent Gallery
Festival Yellow and Orange Chandelier, 2008
6 x 5_ x 4_'
Crimson and Yellow Chandelier, 2008
6 x 4 x 4'
Campiello Barbaro Chandelier, 1996
7 x 4 x 4'
Squero di San Trovaso Chandelier, 1996
7_ x 4 x 4'
Chiostro di Sant'Apollonia Chandelier, 1995
13 x 7 x 6_'
Orange Hornet and Eelgrass Chandelier, 2008
8_ x 5 x 4_'
Blue Marlins, 2008
Location: Sybil B. Harrington Cactus Gallery
Mirrored Hornets, 2008
Blue Fiddleheads, 2008
White Belugas, 2008
Pink Mirrored Fiori, 2008
Neodymium Reeds, 2008
Mirrored Mexican Horns, 2008
Location: Stardust Foundation Plaza
Tiger Lilies, 2008
Location: Quail Run Trail
Blue and Purple Boat, 2008
Location: Desert Discovery Trail
Float Boat, 2008
Location: Harriet K. Maxwell Desert Wildflower Trail
Saffron Tower, 2008
27 x 5 x 5'
Mexican Hat and Horn Tower, 2008
11 x 7 x 7'
The Moon, 2008
7' x 7' x 7'
Green and Blue Ferns, 2008
Location: Ottosen Entry Garden
Desert Wildflower Tower #1, 2008
7 x 5 x 4'
Desert Wildflower Tower #2, 2008
11 x 4_ x 4'
Desert Wildflower Tower #3, 2008
14 x 4 x 4'
The Sun, 2008
14 x 14 x 14'
Amber Cattails, 2008
Location: Plant and People of the Sonoran Desert Trail
Blue Polyvitro Crystals, 2008
Location: Desert Discovery Trail
Black Saguaros, 2008
Scorpion Tails and Bamboo, 2008
Blue Reeds, Marlins and Floats, 2008
Red Reeds, 2008
Location: Eliot Patio
Ruby Fiddleheads, 2008


To view images of Chihuly Installations at Desert Botanical Garden please see:


About the Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, AZ

For 70 years, the Desert Botanical Garden, nestled amid the buttes of Papago Park, has been home to one of the finest and most diverse collections of succulent plants, including rare, threatened and endangered species from around the Southwest. It is the only botanical garden in the world whose mission, from its early inception, was to focus solely on desert plants and one of only a few whose collections comprise a library, herbarium, living specimens and rare and endangered plants.

Mrs. Gertrude Divine Webster, an environmentalist ahead of her time, founded the Desert Botanical Garden in 1939. Ms. Webster, in conjunction with a small group of Valley citizens, gathered in Papago Park to create a botanical garden whose precepts would encourage an understanding, appreciation and promotion of the uniqueness of the world's deserts, particularly the Sonoran Desert. They foresaw the Valley's potential and unique identity, envisioning the need to conserve their beautiful desert environment. The Desert Botanical Garden, since its inception in 1939, continues to be a testament to their vision.

The Desert Botanical Garden sits on 145 acres and has more than 50,000 plants on display. The Living Collection contains over 21,000 accessioned plants representing 3,931 taxa in 139 plant families. The collection is especially strong in Cactaceae (Cactus), Agavaceae (Agaves), Aloaceae (Aloes) and the flora of the Sonoran Desert. Each accessioned plant has detailed information as to their place and time of collection, information that is of both horticultural and scientific value.

The Garden's collection also includes 169 rare, threatened or endangered plant species from the world's deserts, especially the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico. As part of this conservation collection, the Garden maintains 36 species in cooperation with the Center for Plant Conservation. In addition to living plants, seeds and pollen of rare plants are frozen and stored in our extensive seed bank of desert species.

The Garden's herbarium is a collection of preserved plant specimens -- identified, labeled and mounted -- that serve as a lasting record. The herbarium serves to house reference material, to provide means of plant identification, as an arbiter of correct names and as a databank of the diversity and distribution of regional vegetation. The Desert Botanical Garden Herbarium contains over 51,000 accessioned specimens. It was designated as a National Resource Collection in l974 and houses important desert plant collections of early Arizona botanists and current research staff.

The Desert Botanical Garden has five thematic trails that illustrate a variety of topics. The Garden's Desert Discovery Trail showcases desert plants from around the world. The Plants & People of the Sonoran Desert Trail explores how desert plants are used for nourishment and tools. The Sonoran Desert Nature Trail illustrates the relationship between desert plants and animals. The Center for Desert Living Trail covers topics such as water and energy conservation. The Harriet K. Maxwell Desert Wildflower Trail showcases desert wildflowers.

In 2002, the Garden completed a $17 million expansion which includes a new entry and admissions area, the gift shop and sales greenhouse, Dorrance Hall, a 400-seat reception hall and gallery, the Nina Mason Pulliam Research and Horticulture Center which houses the departments of horticulture, research and visitor services, and the Desert Studies Center, which accommodates the educational services department, the volunteer headquarters and indoor and outdoor classrooms.

With this new expansion, the Garden is able to provide greater programming and new events for all visitors. The Desert Botanical Garden celebrates spring with its annual butterfly exhibit and wildflower blooms. During the fall, each weekend is dedicated to celebrating different plants and cultures of the new world as part of the Fabulous Fall Festivals and Mariposa Monarca. And the holidays would not be the same without Las Noches de las Luminarias, an event that has grown from one weekend in December to 19 nights during the month.

In 2008, as part of its $16 million Tending the Garden Campaign to Endow the Future, the Desert Botanical Garden completely transformed the old Cactus and Succulent Houses into the new Sybil B. Harrington Cactus and Succulent Galleries and opened the Ottosen Entry Garden. Additional projects funded by the campaign include a self-guided audio tour, an in-school curriculum for Arizona teachers, scholarships for the Garden's school field trip program a new research scientist and a new way-finding system. In 2009, the Joy and Howard Berlin Agave Yucca Forrest will debut along with a revamped Center For Desert Living Trail in 2010.

The Garden also offers a variety of lectures and workshops on desert landscaping and horticulture, nature art and photography, botanical art and illustration, health and wellness and natural history. In addition, the Garden offers specialized tours, special events, seasonal exhibits, an outdoor café and a gift and plant shop, and many activities for children and their families. The Desert Botanical Garden, committed to its community, has developed programming and special events of interest to both local audiences and tourists.

A "Phoenix Point of Pride", the Desert Botanical Garden is one of 36 botanical gardens in the United States accredited by the American Association of Museums. In 2005, Governor Janet Napolitano named the Garden one of Arizona's Treasures. It is a privately funded, non-profit organization that depends on revenues from admissions, memberships, gift shop sales, as well as contributions from individuals and businesses to fund its programs of environmental education, plant conservation and research.

The Garden's mission is to advance excellence in education, research, exhibition, and conservation of desert plants of the world with emphasis on the Southwestern United States. We will insure that the Garden is always a compelling attraction that brings to life the many wonders of the desert.

Please see the Gardens's website for hours and admission fees.


Resource Library editor's notes:

Readers may also enjoy:

Wrapped in Tradition: The Chihuly Collection of Native American Trade Blankets (5/9/08)
Chihuly Across Florida: Masterworks in Glass (12/31/03)
Dale Chihuly: "Seaforms " (6/14/99)
Glass, from TFAO's Topics in American Representational Art
YouTube illustrated audio presentation: Chihuly Exhibit - No Transitions [5:48] Chihuly Exhibit at the NY Botanical Gardens (Bronx, NY) on October 9, 2006
Dale Chihuly visits Google's Mountain View, CA headquarters to discuss his Gardens of Glass. This event took place on June 19, 2008, as part of the Authors@Google series. [1:02:48]
Dale Chihuly [8:32] Glass blower Dale Chihuly talks about his work and his significant impact on the Studio Glass movement.
Dale Chihuly's web site contains a "Screening Room" page with 50 videos including interviews, projects, exhibitions and public installations.

TFAO also suggests these DVD or VHS videos:

Chihuly. World renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly is the subject of six separate documentary programs included in this 177 minute collection. Each program presents the artist at work on a different project or exploring his craft with his team of collaborators. Included: Chihuly Niijima Floats, Chihuly in Action, Chihuly River of Glass, Chihuly Working with Lino Tagliapietra, Chihuly Atlantis and Chihuly Working with Pino Signoretto.

Chihuly and the Masters of Venice (DVD) Dale Chihuly (actor), Pino Signoretto (actor) and Peter West (director) Tower Video Title Note: "Dubbed "the Picasso of 20th-century glass," American sculptor Dale Chihuly has earned international acclaim for both his breathtakingly beautiful blown-glass sculptures and his collaborative approach to art and creativity. This documentary chronicles Chihuly's historic collaboration with Italian artisans Pino Signoretto and Lino Tagliapietra, two of the world's greatest living glass masters and experts in the ancient Venetian traditions of glassblowing." Studio: Portland Press. DVD Release Date: February 24, 2004

Chihuly at the V&A (DVD) Dale Chihuly (actor) and Peter West (director). Studio: Portland Press. DVD Release Date: February 24, 2004. Tower Video Title Note: "Dubbed "the Picasso of 20th-century glass," American sculptor Dale Chihuly has earned international acclaim for both his breathtakingly beautiful blown-glass sculptures and his collaborative approach to art and creativity. This documentary chronicles Chihuly's exhibition at the historic Victoria and Albert Museum in London, which began with a simple commission for one of the artist's trademark chandeliers and developed into a fullblown career retrospective of his work."

Chihuly DVD Collection is a 4-disc boxed set released in 2004, produced by the Museum of Glass. Each DVD is 60 minutes with an additional 30 minutes of special features. The videos explore the relationship of nature and glass as Chihuly and his team work in a variety of outdoor locations, and then install glass among the lush flora at Chicago's Garfield Park Conservatory. A comprehensive collection, the Chihuly DVD Collection is a globe-trotting adventure that leads to greater understanding of the man and his art. ASIN: B0000D1FJH.

Chihuly In Charlotte is a 2000 video directed by Stuart Grasberg and produced by WTVI, Charlotte Public Television..

Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem 2000 (DVD) Dale Chihuly (actor) and Peter West (director) Studio: Portland Press. DVD Release Date: February 22, 2004 . Tower Video Title Note: "Dubbed "the Picasso of 20th-century glass," American sculptor Dale Chihuly has earned international acclaim for both his breathtakingly beautiful blown-glass sculptures and his collaborative approach to art and creativity. This documentary chronicles Chihuly's installation of 14 glass sculptures in Jerusalem's ancient citadel for the 2000 millennium celebration."

Chihuly Over Venice is a 1998 PBS Home Video released by Home Vision Entertainment. The planning and realization of an ambitious project by renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly is documented in this absorbing PBS presentation. Chihuly collaborated with master glassblowers from four countries to achieve his collection of spectacular chandeliers for public display over the canals of Venice. From Finland to Ireland to Mexico to Italy, Chlhuly and the participatlng artisans join together for a creative 90 minute odyssey. An editorial review by Rob Lightner for Amazon.com says: "Dale Chihuly's gloriously organic glass sculptures grace galleries and public spaces around the world, and Chihuly over Venice follows the artist as he visits glassblowing studios across Europe and collaborates to create chandeliers for the first international Biennale of Glass in Venice. Behind-the-scenes glimpses of the hot, dirty work are cut in with shots of the canals and architecture of Venice to create a montage of a great artist working in a city with a long tradition of artistic excellence. We also get candid interviews with Chihuly and his assistants, which fill in the knowledge and history of the man himself, his work, and the community of glass artists in the Seattle area. Chihuly over Venice is a great package for anyone intrigued by the artistic process or enchanted by the sensuous curves of glass."

Chihuly River of Glass (DVD) Title Note from Tower Video: "Dubbed "the Picasso of 20th-century glass," American sculptor Dale Chihuly has earned international acclaim for both his breathtakingly beautiful blown-glass sculptures and his collaborative approach to art and creativity. This award-winning documentary follows Chihuly to glassblowing centers in America, Finland, Ireland, Mexico, and Italy, as he and his team of artisans create delicately crafted chandeliers to be released into the canals of Venice for a unique environmental art installation." Studio: Portland Press. DVD Release Date: February 24, 2004

TFAO does not maintain a lending library of videos or sell videos. Click here for information on how to borrow or purchase copies of VHS videos and DVDs listed in TFAO's Videos -DVD/VHS, an authoritative guide to videos in VHS and DVD format.

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