Saturday, August 20, 2005

Mr. Glass

Someone at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center is doing something right. Chihuly just left. Warhol is here. Whistler is coming. To explain why I’m so impressed by that, you need to understand something about Colorado Springs. The Springs is a city of over half a million people, the second largest in the state, but it doesn’t seem to realize it very often. In some sort of persistent self-flagellatory gesture, Colorado Springs still sees itself as a small town, undeserving of great art or culture. Generally, if it’s culture you’re looking for, Denver, an hour away, is where you need to look.

But not these days. Denver, eat your heart out.

Shame on Stephanie and I. We talked about going to the Chihuly exhibit for months but only got around to checking it out on the museum’s closing night, last weekend. Which actually worked out well. Well dressed crowds, a jazz band and champagne abounded. Not a bad way to see the work of a master artist whose art and name have become a veritable institution.

Dale Chihuly is the most famous glass artist in the world. For decades, he has crafted some of the most fascinating pieces to grace the world’s greatest art museums. After losing one of his eyes in a car accident in the late 70s, Chihuly realized he no longer had the depth perception necessary to handle the molten glass himself. Instead of giving up his art, he revolutionized the idea of community art, conceptualizing, overseeing and participating in each project but employing a team of skilled artisans to do the handiwork.

Chihuly's designs are deeply influenced by the sea, resembling, as one critic called them, “wild, oversized sea anemones or patches of coral reefs that might exist in some marine version of Alice's Wonderland.” Vibrant, abstract forms of colorful blown glass have become Chihuly's trademark, and his personality parallels his work in its flamboyance.

But don’t take my word for it. Check out some of these graceful and whimsical images from the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Click on the images for a larger size.


Anonymous Nate said...

Those look awesome.

But they must be a real bear to transport.

3:56 PM  

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