Chihuly in the Garden

December 15, 2013
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Chihuly Red Reeds in the Garden at Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden
Dale Chihuly works on display at Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona illustrate the magic of a garden setting for his unique glass art

(Last updated June 2019)

Artist Dale Chihuly is an American glass sculptor, credited with revolutionizing the Studio Glass movement. His works are unique in the field of blown glass. After receiving a Fulbright Fellowship in 1968, he worked at the Venini glass factory in Venice, where he observed the team approach to blowing glass, an approach critical to his work today. His works, which include delicate fluted bowls as well as vibrant, large-scale architectural pieces, are displayed in more than 200 hundred museum collections world-wide.

Several major exhibitions of his work are staged each year in cities around the world. Exhibitions often occur in gardens, a particularly apt setting for his work. Each exhibition is unique although it may contain pieces previously displayed elsewhere. Pieces are strategically placed, often fitting in so perfectly they seem specially designed for that spot.

In the fall/winter of 2013-2014, there was an exhibition at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona. These photos from that exhibit give you a sense of what a Chihuly exhibit in a garden is like.

Chihuly in the Garden During the Day

Chihuly Blue Flori Sun in Desert Botanical Garden
Blue Flori Sun
Chihuly blue and white spiked sculpture at the Desert Botanical Garden
Red and orange Chihuly fireball type glass sculpture called "Summer" Sun" amid cacti in the Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden
Summer Sun

The Chihuly sculptures were placed throughout the garden, sometimes providing a brilliant blast of colour amid the green hues of the desert flora, sometimes blending in so subtly with the landscape I didn’t immediately realize they weren’t growing there naturally.

Chihuly yellow sculpture between cacti at Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden
Citron and Yellow Flori
White tower of glass with bits of pink - Chihuly sculpture
White Tower
Chihuly sculpture - boat with red and yellow glass pieces and blue crystals in water beside it
Sonoran Boat and Blue Crystals
Chihuly Neodymium Reeds and Black Niijima Floats
Neodymium Reeds and Black Niijima Floats
Chihuly Polyvitro Chandelier
Polyvitro Chandelier

Chihuly works with four materials: glass, plastic, water, and ice. Polyvitro is the name he coined for a type of polymer his team created. He uses it for works that weigh less than glass.

Colourful balls of the Chihuly Poluvitro Chandelier
Polyvitro Chandelier Balls
Red and yellow swirls of glass on the Chihuly sculpture at the entrance to Desert Discovery Loop Trail at Phoenix Desrt Botanical Garden
Sculpture at entrance to Desert Discovery Loop Trail
Chihuly Erbium Pink Flori sculpture
Erbium Pink Flori
Chihuly "trees" at the entrance to the Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden
The Desert Botanical Garden purchased these Chihuly “trees” at the end of the exhibition and they are now a permanent feature of the garden located at its entrance

Chihuly in the Garden at Night

Chihuly uses the way light works with glass. The colours may look different as you view the pieces from different angles of light. And the pieces take on a completely different effect when illuminated at night.

Chihuly icicle sculpture at night
Icicle Tower at night
Chihuly Summer Sun at night
Summer Sun at night
Chihuly reeds at night
Chihuly Citron and Yellow Flori at night
Citron and Yellow Flori at night
Chihuly tree sculptures in front of Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden illuminated at night
Entrance at night

Chihuly Garden Exhibitions

Although the Chihuly exhibit is no longer showing at the garden, with over 55 acres under cultivation, over 50,000 plants displayed in outdoor exhibits and a variety of special events scheduled throughout the year, the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona is always a great place to visit. Check Chihuly’s website to find out locations of current and upcoming Chihuly exhibitions.

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Dale Chihuly works on display at Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona illustrate the magic of a garden setting for his unique glass art #Chihuly #glassart #artinthegarden
Dale Chihuly works on display at Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona illustrate the magic of a garden setting for his unique glass art #Chihuly #glassart #artinthegarden

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  • Reply
    Eva
    December 15, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    The sculptures are gorgeous! Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    Gail Oswald
    December 16, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    Amazing Donna! Never seen anything like these sculptures

  • Reply
    Doreen Pendgracs
    December 17, 2013 at 9:20 am

    What fabulous photos! Thanks for sharing. I love the glass sculptures. They really meld nicely with the wonderful cacti.

  • Reply
    Donna Janke
    December 17, 2013 at 10:53 am

    Thanks Eva, Gail, and Doreen for the comments. It really is a spectacular exhibit. I will be visiting it again.

  • Reply
    Steve Grogan
    December 17, 2013 at 11:28 am

    Very beautiful! I think staring at something like that long enough would inspire me to write a story for the first time in ages, or at least a poem or two!

  • Reply
    Patricia Weber
    December 17, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    In all the times I’ve been to Phoenix I have not visited this garden. The photos are stunningly beautiful. Thanks for sharing this with us. Makes me want to consider a special trip. LOL.

    Over from LinkedIn group BHB

  • Reply
    Susan Cooper
    December 17, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    Oh WOW, are those glass sculptures ever beautiful. I had herd of this event from friends in Phoenix and would love to go sometime. Thanks for sharing this.

  • Reply
    JeriWB
    December 17, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    Those glass sculptures in the midst of the cacti are quite striking. I’ve a thing for glass, so this is really interesting to me and something I would make a point of seeing if I’m ever in the area.

  • Reply
    Donna Janke
    December 18, 2013 at 12:01 am

    Thanks Steve, Patricia, Susan, and Jeri for the comments. The Desert Botanical Gardens are worth a visit any time you’re in Phoenix. But the Chihuly Exhibit makes them extra special.

  • Reply
    Gabbi Hall
    December 18, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    Wow! Those sculptures are so cool and add some incredible color to the desert landscape.

  • Reply
    Greg Narayan
    December 18, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    Bloggers Helping Bloggers finds me another beauty! Those pictures are awesome Donna. Keep living the snow bird dream! (no idea what that means btw)

  • Reply
    Pamela Heady
    December 18, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    Last December, that very exhibit was at the Dallas Arboretum and had actually been extended from the fall months due to its extreme popularity! My mom and I went and the moment I saw your first picture, I knew it had to be the same exhibit! I have many of those same pictures but in a completely different environment. I revisited my photos and then looked again at yours. What fun to see the same Chihuly pieces evoking different feelings because of what’s around them. I love all of his work, no matter where I get to see it! One of my favs for sure!

  • Reply
    Oksana Frewer
    December 19, 2013 at 10:51 am

    What are the beautiful pictures, Donna! I would never know about Dale Chihuly, if I’d never read this post…

  • Reply
    Meredith Wouters
    December 19, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    I’ve been a fan of his since seeing a PBS special on him a couple of years ago. I love that his work is on display like this. They look so natural and delicate. I wonder if they ever break? Thank you for the wonderful photography!

  • Reply
    Suzanne Fluhr (Boomeresque)
    December 19, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    What a gorgeous exhibit in a beautiful location. I hope they make it to Philly someday. I’d love to see this exhibit in person although I must say your photos are definitely the next best thing!

  • Reply
    Donna Janke
    December 19, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    Thanks for comments, Gabbi, Greg, Pamela, Oksana, and Meredith. It would be interesting to see the pieces in another environment. Now that I’ve seen them amid the cacti, it’s hard to imagine them somewhere else. I also wondered if they ever break.

  • Reply
    20Pat
    December 21, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    I love Chihuly’s glass work. It definitely adds color to the desert!

  • Reply
    Michele Harvey
    December 22, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    Wow, Chihuly adds so much vibrant color to the desert landscape. The work is beautiful as are your photos. Thank you for sharing this.

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