Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Chihuly Museum, Seattle

The new Chihuly museum in the Seattle Center opened in May, 2012 where many of the rides, etc. had been.  I went there last week, early August, 2013, with my cousins from Israel, Arnold (Aharon), Nachum, and Malka.  I had seen the Chihuly works in Tacoma several times before (the pedestrian bridge, the art in the tavern, the chandelier in the UW center, and the glass in the former RR station.  I had also seen an amazing exhibit in the Phoenix botanical gardens a few years ago.  I really was blown away at the Seattle center museum as so much is concentrated in a small space.  I can see why people on Trip Advisor rate it as the #1 attraction in Seattle.

The normal rate for people is $17 to enter, but King County residents can enter for $15.  That is a nice perk.

The entry hall has a brief summary of Dale Chihuly and his art growth during the decades from the 1960s to the present.   Here is the summary from 1960.  (Chihuly grew up in the Tacoma, WA area.)
"Seeking new experiences and challenges, Chihuly interrupts his studies and travels to Italy and the Middle East.  After working on a kibbutz in Israel's Negev Desert, he returns to the University of Washington, newly invigorated.  Following graduation, he is captivated by glassblowing while experimenting in his basement studio.  He earns graduate degrees at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and the Rhode Island School of design (RISD) in Providence.  Some of his early artworks include neon, argon, and ice as well as blown glass.  Traveling on a Fulbright Fellowship in 1968, he is the first American glassblower invited to work at the Venini factory in Venice.  Upon his return to the United States, Chihuly establishes the glass program at RISD, where he teaches full time for the next decade."

I was amazed to read about his kibbutz experience.  Here he is blowing glass at the Belle Arts Festival in 1968 in Israel.
Here is the summary for the 1970s. 
Example of Native basket somewhat collapsing
In the 1980s, Chihuly began the seafoam forms, which evolved from the baskets.

The Persian windows below also evolved from this.

In the 1990s, he goes large scale, with chandeliers, and other large object.  At the end of the 90s, he has a huge exhibit at the Tower of David (Migdal David) in Jerusalem.  At the museum, there are five short movies (each under ten minutes) telling about key issues.  One covers his creation of the exibit in Jerusalem.
In the first decade of the 21st century, Chihuly designed and dedicated the pedestrian bridge in Tacoma, an amazing work of art with the Persian glass ceiling and vases in the walls.  I never tire of visiting it. .  Jerusalem and the bridge were his start of putting art in natural places.
This decade he has expanded even more.  Chihuly was born in 1941.  His accident when he was young has limited some of what he can physically do but his creativity has continued to expand, bringing ever new ideas to his art.
There are several chandeliers on exhibit at the Chihuly Seattle museum.  This picture below does not give the blue chandelier justice.  It is brilliant.
After passing through the historical introduction and getting our tickets checked, we passed by the stunning Glass Forest.  It is one of his earlier pieces made at the Rhode Island School of Design where he was an instructor.  James Carpenter, an illustration major specializing in botanical drawings, approached Chihuly in 1971  to  experiment with blowing botanical forms.  "The Glass Forest came out of their work together and explored the common ground between natural forms and organic appearance of blown glass."
An orange chandelier--color is more spectacular than myphoto

The 15' - tall stunning Sea Life tower is in the same room:
A close-up of the Sea Life Tower

 In the room explaining the Northwest influences, there were objects made of several materials including the octopus on glass below--see the sketch too:

"Chihuly began the Macchia (Forest) series in 1981 with the desire to use all 300 colors available to him in the hotshop, and named it such after asking his friend Italo Scanga the word for "spot" in Italian.  Thinking about the colors and intensity of stained glass windows, Chihuly realized that the glass panes looked more clear and vibrant against a cloudy sky than a blue one.  This idea inspired his experimenmtation to separate the interior and exterior colors by adding a white layer in between, a 'cloud,' and as he mastered the technical complexities, pushed the scale up to four feet in diameter.

Each work is speckled with color, which comes from rolling the molten glass in small shards of colored glass during the blowing process.  To complete the piece, he adds a lip wrap of a contrasting color."
Although I prefer the Persian ceiling on the pedestrian bridge in Tacoma, this one too was awesome: It was very hard to get a good photo.  I had to sit on the floor and not let the artificial light get in the way.

Some of these posters were from shows and some were drawing walls. "After losing sight in his left eye and dislocating his shoulder, Chihuly relinquished the gaffer position and began drawing as a way to communicate his vision and designs to his team.  The drawings evolved beyond a communication tool to become an important part of his expression.  With his burned Drawings, Chihuly explores color and texture in new ways.  he draws on neavyweight watercolor paper with acrylics, dry metallic pigment, charcoal and graphite, and even burns the paper surface with an acetylene torch.  These drawings are gestural and full of energy with subtle colors and rich texture.  Chihuly's first Dreawing Wall was presented to the public in 1992 at the Honolulu Academy of Arts.  Chihula has explained, 'Drawing really helps me to think about things.  I'm able to draw and work with a lot of color and that inspires me.'"

Chihuly Creating
 I took the picture above from a short film we saw.  There are 5 films that are shown, each about 6 minutes long.  We saw one on the exhibit in Jerusalem and how it was created.  Another is about chandeliers.  I'll go back and see more another time.

We saw two fantastic boats with glass in them.  The one below was my favorite.  The reflection was also pretty striking.
This huge room "The Glass Forest" was amazing. Close ups of pictures in the room follow.
We found out that the think vertical or angled pieces were held up by small metal tubes inside them.
We then passed through the greenhouse.
"The Glasshouse is the centerpiece of Chihuly Garden and Glass.  Throughout his career, Chihuly dreamed of working on the design for a glasshouse and the artwork within it.  This is the first opportunity he has had to realize that dream. The design draws inspiration from two of his favorite buildings:  Sainte-Chapelle in Paris and the Crystal Palace in London.  Chihuly signed a beam during the dedication ceremony on May 21, 2012.

The Glasshouse Sculpture is an expansive 100-foot-long installation in a palette of reds, oranges, yellows, and amber.  Made of many individual elements, it is one of Chihuly's largest suspended sculptures. Chihuly calls the intensely colored blown-glass forms of this monumental work Persians.  The perception of the artwork varies greatly with natural light and as the day fades into night."
 Then we walked outside.  After talking to a guard, we found out that the pieces outside were thicker to withstand the Seattle weather and also were built to withstand up to pea-sized hail.  I loved the way that the plants and flowers went so well with the glass in the garden.

Orange Flowers in front of orange glass
A row of chandeliers were near one outside wall.
Sunset Chandelier

While much of the glass art was similar to other pieces I had seen in Phoenix and in Tacoma, there were different. Chihuly has many warehouses were his pieces of art are stored.

One last photo--and I do hope those of you near Seattle get a chance to go to this museum.  It is spectacular!


Nicole said...

Thanks, totally mindblowing!

Wenni Donna said...

This is, without a doubt, one of the most prominent Seattle venues. A must see, for anyone visiting Seattle for the first time. It never gets old really. The beauty just takes your mind on a ride. Amazing art by amazing artist!!