There’s a Chihuly exhibit at the Seattle Center, right under the shadow of the Space Needle and it is so worth visiting.
My mom treated her grandchildren to a now annual Tourist Day in Seattle Trip, and this was our favorite stop (even over Ivars fish and chips on the waterfront). The unveiling goal had been to be open by the Needles 50th Anniversary in May. They almost made it. So being that it is relatively new, I thought I would share the experience as best I could through my untrained eye and camera.
Goodness, I was SO excited to see much more of his work in person. The light and color in his big bold glass sculptures were intriguing and spellbinding to all of my children (ages 8, 10, 12, and 14) as well as myself. I think this speaks highly for his colorful medium, because even though I expose my children to a lot of art, they loved this all on their own. We were not disappointed, which is good since the tickets are not cheap.
So in case you don’t get to experience it on your own, here is my play-by-play tour guide version:
The exhibit is an indoor/outdoor combo thing where his glass is brilliantly displayed along with some of his painted sketches.You begin walking by a lighted Glass Forest into the Northwest Room where Chihuly’s glass baskets and bowls are displayed amongst the real blankets and basket patterns that inspired him.
There is a Sealife Room in soft blues, greens, golds, with a massive gorgeous blue piece mid stage, a favorite of my 12 year-old. When you proceed into the Persian Ceiling room the colors explode onto the wall, and it is beautiful. I seriously caught my breath at first glance.
From here you enter Mille Fiori meaning “a thousand flowers” and you may, like my daughter did, just let the beauty soak in. She was remembering stories of people who say they have been to heaven, where there are colors that we don’t have here on earth, meanwhile my youngest was videoing her favorites from her lower perspective which were interesting to view later.
Each room gets more intriguing;
The Ikebana and Float Boat Room holds two boats on mirrored glass filled and overflowing with huge glass color balls and sea life inspired shapes. Even though the room is black, it is so full of vibrant and playful color, it’s a happy room, emphasised by the fact a small child was singing quietly to herself while in here.
Between that and the next exhibit filled with giant chandeliers, my boys would be hard pressed to pick a favorite. We spent quite a bit of time going back and forth between these areas just taking it in.
The last indoor rooms include a Macchia Forest with shell looking shaped bowls up to 4 feet wide where Chihuly experimented with a white layer or ‘cloud’ in between the colors of the pieces. The one with camo colors was my 10 year-olds pick. (Camo?)
There is also a theater showing continuous short clips from Chihuly’s teams firing the glass to installing, as well as a cafe before entering the 40 foot high Glasshouse which is a wonderful transition into the outdoor displays.
In the Glasshouse a 100 foot glass sculpture is suspended from the ceiling that changes in color with the light of day. The Space Needle can cleverly be seen through the ceiling in between the warm colored glass flowers in this grand work which makes for fun pictures. We saw several people laying on the floor to get their perfect shot, I did not…actually I didn’t think I could get up if I did. The conservatory is inspired by two of Chihuly’s favorite buildings; Sainte Chapelle (which was my absolute favorite in Paris too) and the Crystal Palace in London.
From this building you enter the garden.
With names like “Reeds on Logs”, and “Crystal and Icicle Towers” along with the big yellow “Sun”, the outdoor glass installations are really playful and lovely, especially on the sunny day we were there. They are integrated in landscaping that is equally varied and colorful; the mix of glass art with nature works really well I thought…as long as I don’t have to clean them. Can you imagine? The sculptures must be quite heavy, but still, it really is amazing the glass can remain outside and not break. (Lot’s of analogies here between the glass art and Christ followers, but I won’t go there now).
Because the light of the day or night would alter how the glass appears, they are open between 10:30 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. Currently you can get your hand stamped to re-enter the same evening after 8 p.m. It is a long-term exhibit so Chihuly fans will be able to enjoy this the next time they get to Seattle where they can also pick up smaller Chihuly bowls available for sale in the gift shop for a mere $4,500-$8,000. My thrifty trained girls opted for a $3 funky bubble ring in bright lime with a Chihuly drawing in it. Okay, I bought one too. Hot pink.
Now that my children are getting older, it’s a pleasure to play tourist and view museums with them, getting their perspective besides hearing “is it time to go yet?” I truly believe God, the orignal Artist, is the absolute and necessary condition for the possibility of beauty (Viladeasu) and that in turn all beautiful aesthetics not only point to Him but give us other means to make connections with God and give us a means to express that relationship.
I want to encourage mommy’s to continue to expose their children (and themselves) to many forms of art that express our Creator, “spreading the feast” (Charlotte Mason). This of course includes great music, literature, architecture, crafts, nature, to creativity in homemaking, etc. etc. Not only do the Arts strengthen a long list of left brain cognitive skills, but more importantly it awakens in their little souls a little more awe and understanding of His greatness even though they can’t necessarily express it. Yet.
More practical men in our lives may not appreciate Chihuly’s work as much as I did, and that’s fine as different works speak to different people, but as Picasso put it (taking a quote from a man named Berthold Auerbach who said “Music”, which Picasso changed to “Art” but both terms are equally true…)
“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life”
…and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one that came away with the dust cleared off, refreshed and ready to take on traffic. Then back to our country road filled with another form of beauty.