Dale Chihuly: 21 Years of Exhibitions (and Counting)

Chihuly’s “Sapphire Star” at the New York Botanical Gardens, 2017

Washington State born artist Dale Chihuly is one of the world’s most renown glass sculptors.

Since he began pursuing an Interior Design degree at the College of Puget Sound in 1961, Dale Chihuly has been using glass in a unique way — making art with it.

“Chihuly was remarkable for taking glass, which was before him considered a craft resulting in utilitarian things, and creating sculptures that were pure artworks,” said Barbara Mundy, Professor of Art History at Fordham University. “He made things out of glass that no one had imagined before.”

Chihuly’s work had been featured in various shows and series throughout the early days of his career, including the “Basket” in 1977, the “Soft Cylinder” in 1984, and the “Venetian” in 1988.

It wasn’t until 1996 that Chihuly had his first solo exhibition, titled “Chihuly Over Venice.” The exhibition featured 15 pieces spanning all of Venice, and it is often regarded as a turning point in Chihuly’s career.

The success of “Chihuly Over Venice” skyrocketed him to fame, leading to a now 21 year line of prosperous exhibitions. Many have taken place at various Botanical Gardens throughout America, from Missouri to Florida to New York for the first time in 2006.

Chihuly is well known for his long-term exhibition “Chihuly Garden and Glass” in Seattle, Washington, stationed just below the Seattle Space Needle.

“It’s really the most important project I’ve ever done,” said Chihuly of his Seattle exhibition, “one piece I like a lot is the boat piece.”

One of Chihuly’s “boat pieces,” a style he uses in several of his exhibitions including “Chihuly Garden and Glass” and the New York Botanical Gardens 2017 (pictured)

His most recent exhibition, and his second at the New York Botanical Gardens, opened on April 22nd, drawing in large crowds since its premiere.

“The exhibit has been very popular so far, we’ve been having over thousands of guests checking out Chihuly,” said Erika Carbonell, New York Botanical Gardens Employee. “It’s been 11 years since Chihuly started at the Botanical Gardens.”

The exhibit bears similarities to Chihuly’s first New York Botanical Gardens show in 2006, but with over a decade of added experience.

Plant-like art by Dale Chihuly at the New York Botanical Gardens

Chihuly crafted the exhibit’s pieces specifically to complement the foliage of the New York Botanical Gardens, with some pieces, such as White Belugas, made to blend in with the flowers.

Other pieces are more eye popping, like Sapphire Star (pictured first), which is considered to be the centerpiece of the exhibit by some visitors.

Sol del Citron, situated outside the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory

“Sapphire Star and Sol del Citron are really pretty amazing, it would be worth it to come to the Gardens just to see them, but everything else is amazing too,” said long time Bronx resident Mary Ellen Rousso. “I come here a lot anyway but I’ve been coming more since this opened.”

The exhibit is open seven days a week from 10 am to 6 pm.

On Saturday and Thursday nights in the summer, however, the New York Botanical Gardens is hosting Chihuly Nights, featuring the same pieces shown during the day but with the twist of illumination against the night sky.

“I want people to be overwhelmed with light and color in a way they have never experienced,” said Dale Chihuly of his personal art goal. His New York Botanical Gardens exhibit is one of many of his to fulfill this philosophy in some way, shape, or form.

Chihuly at the New York Botanical Gardens will be open until October 29th, 2017.