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.

Sweet.

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.

 

Where Glass Borders on Fantasy… The Work of Dale Chihuly

I had the feeling that this sculpture by Dale Chihuly, set off by a reflecting pool should be waving its tentacles.

I had the feeling that this sculpture by Dale Chihuly, set off by a reflecting pool, should be waving its tentacles. (This and the following photos are taken by Peggy Mekemson.)

When I closed my eyes and scrolled through my iPhoto collection to come up with today’s photo essay, I landed on a series of photos featuring Dale Chihuly’s imaginative glass sculptures.

It seems like Chihuly, the world’s most prolific creator of glass blown sculpture, is everywhere these days. His works are found worldwide. Peggy was in Tennessee with our daughter Natasha five years ago when a Chihuly exhibition was held at the Cheekwood Botanical Garden in Nashville. Fortunately, Peggy took lots of photos so I could enjoy the show as well. I found a flock of flamingos that Peggy captured on her camera at the botanical garden to be equally fascinating.

I thought of this creation as a fruit basket.

I thought of this creation as a fruit basket.

Chihuly is an expert at placing his work in natural settings.

Chihuly is an expert at designing his pieces to complement natural settings.

Another example how his work complements a natural setting.

Another example how his work complements a natural setting.

And how about this towering glass sculpture next to the tree?

And how about this towering glass sculpture next to a tall tree?

My grandson, who was two at the time, checks out one of Chihuly's sculptures. I wonder what was going through his mind?

My grandson, who was two at the time, checks out one of Chihuly’s sculptures. I wonder what was going through his mind?

A new take on a Zen garden?

A new take on a Zen garden?

I thought colorful garlic here.

These reminded me of colorful cloves of garlic.

These gracefull birdlike sculptures reminded me of Peggy's Flamingos.

These graceful birdlike sculptures with their interesting poses reminded me of Peggy’s Flamingos.

Flamingos can assume some interesting one legged positions but this one went above and beyond

Flamingos can assume some interesting one-legged positions but this one went above and beyond. Check out the shadow.

Another interesting pose.

Another interesting pose for both kids and adults.

A final contortion of Flamingos.

A final contortion of Flamingo parts.

I'll use this blue and green contrast by Chihuly to end this post. NEXT POST: On the way to He Grand Canyon and a two month break from blogging.

I’ll use this blue and green contrast by Chihuly to end this post. NEXT POST: A continuation of my Friday Essays. The Grand Canyon trip. Also, Friday marks the beginning of a two month break from blogging.

 

 

A Rocky Beginning to Date Day… The Crater Rock Museum in Oregon

A thunder egg displaying Caspar the Friendly Ghost at Crater Rock Museum in Central Point, Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Imagine cutting open a thunder egg rock and finding Caspar, the Friendly Ghost, staring out at you. Caspar is one of the best known rocks at the Crater Rock Museum.

Date Day is a long-standing tradition in the Mekemson household. It began as Date Night in 1990. Peggy and I had just met and, shall we say, taken an interest in each other. But there were innumerable roadblocks to our blooming romance. Two teenagers were at the top of the list. (Tasha was dedicated to protecting her mom from the strange man. Smart girl.She made Peggy a sweatshirt that said “Don’t mess with the mama.”) But the list went on– jobs, family, friends, etc. We decided to declare Wednesday night ours, which was easier said than done. It took a lot of training. The kids and friends were actually easy. It was other family members and jobs that were resistant.

“What do you mean you can’t come to the family dinner on Wednesday night?” Peg’s sister, Jane, demanded.

“But Wednesday night is the only night I can meet,” the PTA President objected. (Peggy was principal of the school.)

In the end we prevailed. “I know, I know,” Jane would sigh dramatically, “it’s Date Night.” And the PTA Board would unanimously declare, “It’s Date Night!” as did all of the other committees and boards and family and bosses and friends. Once in a while we would make an exception, but it was rare.

Having worked so hard to train everyone, we decided to continue the tradition, even after we were married. And we still do– 24 years later. The major difference is that after we retired, we turned Date Night into Date Day. Why skimp on a good thing? Altogether, we have had over a thousand date night/days. What we do isn’t nearly as important as simply being together, but we use the day to explore new areas, peruse bookstores, go to movies, eat out, etc. Play is the operative word here.

Last Wednesday, our Date Day had a rocky start; we went to the Crater Rock Museum. It’s about 30 miles from where we live just off of Interstate 5 in Central Point, Oregon. Peggy and I had driven by the road to the museum several times and each time we would comment that we needed to visit. A new acquisition, Pterry the Pterosaur, moved Crater Rock to the top of our places-to-explore list. Pterosaurs were large flying reptiles that existed from 228-66 million years ago. Pterry now graced the ceiling of the museum.

We quickly discovered that the museum had much more than Pterry. There was Caspar, the Friendly Ghost, who resided in a thunder egg, a collection of student works of the world-famous glass artist, Dale Chihuly, Native American artifacts, and one of the finest collections of rocks and minerals in the western United States, all beautifully displayed. There was even a poignant reminder of why I exist; check out the photo on COPCO.

Pterry, a 60 million year old plus, pterosaur, swoops down from the ceiling of the Crater Rock Museum.

Pterry, a 60 million year old plus, pterosaur, swoops down from the ceiling of the Crater Rock Museum like a B-52 Bomber.

Close up of Pterry the Pterosaur at the Crater Rock Museum in Central Point, Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

A close up of Pterry’s rather impressive mouth full of teeth. I prefer flying creatures to be much smaller and without teeth. Think sparrow.

Polished agates at the Crater Rock Museum in Central Point, Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Who doesn’t love agates that have been tumbled and polished. Rock hounds have been gathering them off of Oregon beaches for decades.

Glass sculpture created by student of Dale Chihuly on display at the Crater Rock Museum in Central Point, Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

I had expected to find beautiful rocks at the Crater Rock Museum; it sort of goes with the name. What I hadn’t expected were student works of the world-famous glass artist, Dale Chihuly.

Student art work of Dale Chihuly at the Crater Rock Museum. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Peggy and I are great fans of Chihuly, having first come across his works in Nashville, Tennessee.

Woven glass sculpture by student of Dale Chihuly at the Crater Rock Museum in Central Point, Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

A final work by one of Chihuly’s students featuring woven glass.

Dragon at Crater Rock Museum  in Central Point, Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Nor was I expecting to find this dragon at the museum.

Suchomimus at the Crater Rock Museum in Central Point, Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

This Suchomimus (meaning crocodile mimic) was keeping Pterry company. He was apparently a teenager some 100 million years ago– approximately 36 feet long and weighing upwards to 4 tons.

Dinosaur poop on display at the Crater Rock Museum in Central Point. Oregon.

This might be an appropriate place to throw in this rock. Can you guess what it is? My bet is little boys are fascinated with it and little girls say, “Ooh gross!” To enquiring minds that want to know: it’s petrified dinosaur poop.

Fossil fish at the Crater Rock Museum in Central Point, Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

I was impressed by this fossil fish. Check out its eye. It looks like he was having a bad day. Or maybe he was just bad.

Speaking of bad, check out the canines on this Saber toothed kitty.

Speaking of bad, note out the canines on this Saber Toothed Cat. The canines could reach up to 19 inches in length. It’s beyond me to imagine how they could drop their jaws far enough to sink their teeth into anything. Maybe they just scared their prey to death. BTW: these guys are closely related to your favorite kitty.

Large geode and Peggy Mekemson at the Crater Rock Museum in Central Point, Oregon.

Geodes can be large, as this photo with Peggy shows.

Geode at Crater Rock Museum in Central Point, Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

The difference between geodes and thunder eggs, I was to learn, is that geodes have an empty center while the core of thunder eggs is solid.

Geode rock at Crater Rock Museum. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

So this would be another geode…

Thunder egg titled the Swam Thing at Crater Rock Museum in Central Point, Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

And here we have a thunder egg. The ‘scenes’ inside of thunder eggs can be absolutely amazing, as was shown by Caspar at the beginning of the blog and in this one titled “the Swamp Thing” by the folks at Crater Rock.

I promised a brief tale about my beginnings. My dad worked for COPCO in the 30s stringing power lines across Northern California and Southern Oregon. He was on top of a 50-foot pole one morning and his ground man was teasing him about a date he had the night before. He turned to make a retort and came in contact with the 11,000 volt line. Zap, he was an Oregon fried pop. Months later he was staying at a boarding house in Medford and still recovering when he met my mother, who was also staying there. Without the accident, he wouldn't have met her and I wouldn't be here typing this blog.

A high voltage tale:  My dad worked for COPCO in the 30s. He was on top of a 50-foot pole one morning and his ground man was teasing him about a date he had the night before. He turned to make a retort and came in contact with the live 11,000 volt line. Zap. Months later he was staying in Medford and still recovering when he met my mother. Without the accident, he wouldn’t have met her and I wouldn’t be writing this blog.

Scrimshaw collection at Crater Rock Museum in Central Point, Oregon.

“Thar she blows.” The museum also has a significant scrimshaw collection, donated by David Holmes of Harry and David. The Harry and David plant is in Medford.

Petrified wood at Crater Rock Museum in Central Point, Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Petrified wood can vary dramatically depending on the minerals that have replaced the wood fibers.

Petrified wood found at the Crater Rock Museum in Central Point, Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

Here is another example of petrified wood.

Crystals at the Crater Rock Museum in Central Point, Oregon. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

It seems appropriate to conclude this post with a photo of crystals, always a top draw at any rock show.

Next blog: I intend to start a three-part series on the tragedy of Liberia, West Africa, where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer from 1965-67.