Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Chihuly's "Nature of Glass" installation at the Desert Botanical Garden

My first impression of the Dale Chihuly art-glass installation at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix was that it in some ways reflects a "one size fits all" approach by the artist--brightly colored tentacles everywhere.

No, that was my second impression. My first impression was of the three yuccalike columns near the entrance, catching the sun at dawn; I was surprised that a sculptor could meaningfully add to the scene. I also had no idea a special exhibition was taking place; having never visited the DBG before and thinking them very well placed, I took the three yuccas as being part of the permanent collection.

Some of the pieces--squat agaves of two kinds, a yellow column, evocative of a saguaro, near the entrance, a giant alliumlike flower head on one of the paths--kept me from thinking the installation totally without context. And on reviewing my Kodachromes, which didn't all come out due to a failing meter battery, I've concluded that the exhibition is very well done. Even some of the one-size-fits-all elements, such as Chihuly's signature boats, take on meaning due to their context.

Those of you who don't ordinarily like abstract art will probably like this study of form in nature. The exhibition continues until May 31st; I recommend visiting before then. See my slide show on Associated Content for images and further reflection.

A post about art on a policy 'blog? Readers may find it strange, but the old-timers lead me to believe that this 'blog's doll-collecting, photo-enthusiast namesake would not have disapproved. And this installation is far more interesting than most of the happenings in Phoenix I report here!

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