A Break from Hiking… The Magic of Chihuly: Part 1

This boat with its brightly colored and patterned balls may be my favorite piece in Chihuly’s collection. I say ‘maybe’ because how do you choose? I also love the reflection.

I missed my annual art-fix at Burning Man this year since I was out on the trail. Peggy and I made up for it when we traveled to Washington and Northern Oregon after we came out from our 50-mile backpack trip in the Three Sisters Wilderness. In addition to checking out the Colombia Gorge, disappearing into Powell’s Bookstore in Portland for three hours, visiting with our niece Christina and her partner Dustin in Tumwater, and driving through Cascades National Park, we stopped off at the permanent Dale Chihuly exhibit in Seattle. We both love his inspired glass work. The exhibit, located at the base of the Space Needle, has been on our bucket list for several years.

The Seattle Space Needle provides a backdrop for Chihuly’s sun sculpture.

I decided to provide a quick break from my Pacific Crest Trail series today to focus in on Chihuly’s art. He has been designing and producing blown-glass sculptures since the 60s and is known for his creativity and large pieces. He has also produced some lovely smaller work. Being blind in one eye and limited by an old shoulder injury, he now works with a team in producing his magic. For the most part, I’ll let his art speak for itself in this 2-3 part series. When I am finished, I’ll return to featuring my PCT adventure.

Peggy poses in front of the sun sculpture. Given her often wild, curly hair, she related well to this piece.

Here, the sun sculpture sets off Chihuly’s Glasshouse.

The Glasshouse contains this magnificent sculpture.

It is one of the largest hanging sculptures in the world. I’d love to see it at night.

A close up of the flowers in Chihuly’s Glasshouse.

A number of large sculptures are featured in the exhibit. This one, located inside, reflects the ocean and includes sea life.

A closeup of the sea life.

Outside, Peggy and I found this tall green sculpture…

Another perspective.

A red sculpture spouting what looked like horns to me.

Here, the ‘horns’ are shown more clearly. I could imagine them playing beautiful music!

A purple sculpture reminded me of sugar crystals forming on a stick.


Chihuly vowed to use every color available to him in his Macchia series.

A close up I felt was ‘artsy.’ (grin)

Three other pieces in the Macchia series.

One room was devoted to what I consider a sculpture of a riotous garden. Or maybe it was an altar to the yellow and red creature. Chihuly often repurposes his art in various exhibitions, recombining it in creative ways to fit into the environment. I liked the way he uses reflections to enhance his work. The boat at the top is an excellent example.

Another view of the ‘garden’ from the side.

And from the opposite end.

Starting with a glass ceiling lit from above and then placing his art on top of the glass, Chihuly created what he calls his Persian glass ceiling. The results were stunning.

A whole room was covered by the celling done in segments.

This fun piece was created by standing on a step-ladder and blowing glass. When the glass reached the floor it created the globular bottoms for the forest of glass. Once again, reflection is used to magnify the effect.

I’ll conclude today with another boat sculpture. This one backed up to the boat sculpture I featured at the beginning. I don’t think that Chihuly could have fit anymore into this boat.

NEXT POST: Some really incredible chandeliers plus more of Chihuly’s colorful ball sculptures.


41 thoughts on “A Break from Hiking… The Magic of Chihuly: Part 1

    • There were some smaller pieces featured in the gift shop, Ray. Except for the $6-7 thousand price tags, I would have come home with one. 🙂 Definitely worth stopping at if you find yourself up Seattle Way. –Curt

  1. Chihuly!!! I love his glass sculptures- they’re gorgeous, as are your photos! Have you ever made it to the Museum of Glass in Tacoma? There are some lovely exhibits of his work and we’ve enjoyed watching the glass artists in the Hot Shop. (I have fantasies of learning how to do all of that someday, but with my lack of coordination, it’s probably not a great idea…) The exhibit in Seattle is on my “someday…” list- thanks for the little “visit” to it today. 🙂

  2. One of my most favorite artists of all time! Was fortunate to see exhibits in Tennessee and North Carolina. I’m excited to see a few new sculptures in the Seattle exhibit. Spectacular and beautifully photographed!

  3. I could gaze at his work for days on end. Looks like a lovely change from your super human hiking efforts. We had lunch in the cafe attached to the exhibit in June and that was a fabulous little find too.

  4. I’ve never seen his work in person, but would love to. I know there are some permanent exhibits in museums within striking distance. I think Dallas is one such location. If I had to choose only one installation to see, it would be one of the botanical exhibits, like the one that took place in Phoenix a few years back. He’s a genius when it comes to glass — no question about that.

  5. I first saw Chihuly’s exhibit a few years ago, when he had his first “road show” in Laurel, MS. It is breathtaking art and if you ever get a chance to see it, do yourself a favor and indulge! The intricacies and colors will amaze you. Look, but don’t touch! it’s very expensive!

    • Laughing about the ‘very expensive’ part, Sue. The small sculptures I feature in today’s post: Chihuly part 3, go for 7-8 thousand dollars. You definitely don’t want to break one! 🙂 –Curt

  6. I’m not exaggerating when I say I could go to a Chihuly exhibit every single day. I’m utterly flabbergasted at much of his work, and I particularly love that so much of what I have seen has been nestled into natural surroundings. I laughed out loud at your comment that Peggy’s hair sometimes look like the crazy, curly sunburst! 😀

  7. Thanks for sharing this artwork with us. We have recently returned from a tour of the Chihuly exhibit at Biltmore Mansion in Asheville, NC, and it could be that some of these pieces were in that exhibit or he made new pieces based upon things he created previously. The boat with spheres was in Asheville, and when the afternoon light moved onto the water, the whole assemblage glistened. Thanks for sharing these spectacular creations with us.

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