Chihuly Garden & Glass

I won a ticket to see Chihuly’s controversial or debatable exhibit in mid 2015- March or April. Can’t remember why I won, but I do recall it was in Celeste Cooning‘s class and our invited speaker, Hilary Lee, had offered tickets.

Fast forward through the summer of surgery, the Fall of rest, and the rest of fall and find that same ticket pinned to the bulletin board with a thin layer of dust on it. Expiration dates [12/31/2015] spur action, though. Because we take every opportunity for the arts. Emailed Hilary to attempt scheduling a tour. True, I could just go on my own, but who in their right mind would turn down a curated tour with a pro who knows the details and stories behind each piece? Not I, said the little mouse. Basically, the only person better to take this tour with is Chihuly himself and I can only presume he’s busy being brilliant elsewhere. Because, for real.

Not only was Hilary amenable, she also provided a ticket for my Honeybee and we had ourselves time!


Matt & I loved the focus on influence and Native American culture. Hilary explained that Dale grew up in Tacoma and was exposed early to the Duwamish and Puyallup culture. This entire wall of baskets and adjacent wall of textiles is amazing. At some point every glass artist works to perfect the vessel, here you can see the direct link between Dale’s work and Native heritage.


The first time I saw Chihuly’s work was in the desert on a road trip. Can you imagine the very muted-Arizona backdrop, adorned with abandoned canoes and the most vivid glass jutting out in every direction? That Chihuly is still very much present, yet exists alongside other iterations. It was like catching up with an old friend.



One of the most surprising elements of the exhibit—to me, at least, is the overwhelming allusion to water…without any actual water. This is a huge chunk of real estate, there could’ve been fountains and pools. It seemed like there were fountains and pools. But, no. None. It’s clever and dramatic and perfect. I simultaneously felt as though I was seaside and underwater, completely submerged and, yet floating off a reef, but also somewhere else, also, in the deeper sea. Could’ve sworn I heard bubbling, even. Nonesuch.

|The Garden|

I’m studying the history of landscape architecture this quarter and it’s so interesting to see how this series of works of art seem to fit equally well with this very urban setting in downtown Seattle and with the very natural setting of plants.

ChihulyGarden&Glass_1 ChihulyGarden&Glass_5

Wiggling tendrils of glass and branch abound and just sort of do their thing—completely still.


We even got to see live glass blowing. Molten hot fire wielding madmen, the lot of em!


One of the fringe benefits of having so much space is the ability to display collections. [Because when you have space, it’s a collection. When you don’t, it’s hoarding.] The accordions on display in the ceiling of Collections Cafe inspire awe.


It’s hard to imagine all this is tucked right below the Space Needle in Seattle Center, but it is. Check it out!


If I had to pick a favorite, like if you wrestled me to the ground and just basically demanded I pick one or die, it’d have be this ice queen right here. Hilary says this is how Chihuly does Christmas! [Sorry I only had my zoom lens. This bad boy is huge!]



Even the gift shop had me drooling.


Find out more about Dale’s work and find details on scheduling your visit to the Garden & Glass Exhibit here. I have to give a huge thank-you-shout-out to Hilary and everyone at Chihuly Garden & Glass who treated us so well and showed us such a great time. And thank you, dear reader, for lending your eyeball for a mini-adventuring out into the urban wilderness that is Seattle! With you, it’s always a pleasure.

Brianna Wray Signature

Author: Brianna Wray

I'm an artist in Seattle just living the dream.


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