Chihuly glass exhibit in Oklahoma City

Dale Chihuly is considered by some critics as the greatest artist in any media for our times. After wandering OKC’s Museum of Art’s permanent collection, I can see why.

Here is the magnificent piece, “The Eleanor Kirkpatrick Memorial Tower”, lit 24 hours a day and standing in the lobby of the Art Museum.

It is 55 feet high, 12,000 pounds, with a steel structure in the middle holding up 2,100 individual hand-blown glass pieces.

A rock climber used to climb up the windows and clean it carefully with a Swiffer. Now they pour industrial grade Windex over it, the docent said, and collect it at the bottom.

In the first gallery is a piece called “Reeds”, inspired by grasses that grow in wetlands. To make one, a glassblower holds the hot glass on the blowpipe, climbs onto a mechanical lift, and blows into the glass. A second person on the ground pulls it from below, extending it up to 10 feet.

The logs came from a tree blown over in a 2001 ice storm near the property of the museum’s then-executive director.

Then we saw the collection of Macchia, meaning Spotted. The interior and exterior colors are separated by a layer of opaque white glass. A third color is applied to the edge.

The spottedness is achieved by rolling the molten glass in smaller shards of broken glass during the blowing process.

Next was the Oklahoma Persian ceiling, about 30 feet long consisting of dozens and dozens of pieces, some translucent and some opaque. Dale’s Persians are noted for their ruffled edges and jewel-like colors. He picked the name to denote a fusion of East and West glass traditions.

It didn’t show up very well, but Dale put 5 puttis, or glass cherubs, in his ceiling. The above picture has one, but clear glass doesn’t show well against his jewel-like colors.

One last ceiling picture:

Then we moved into the gallery with boats filled with his glass. The first one is called the Float Boat.

While in Finland Dale placed some of his glass spheres in a river. Children in rowboats collected them, giving him the idea to use actual fishing boats.

This one is called the Ikebana boat because of the flower-like forms.

When Dale lost sight in one eye due to a car accident, he stopped blowing glass himself. He paints all his ideas onto heat resistant material and places it on the floor for the hot shop to create for him. This one has foot prints on it.

Our docent said tourists to the hot shop in Seattle were taking/stealing his paintings, so he started signing his name and selling them. The above is called “Float Quad Drawing 2001”.

This is “Chandelier Quad Drawing, 2001”.

This was a collection of pieces towards the end of the exhibit.

It’s about 18-20 inches tall.

And another.

He’s always exploring some new idea.

A very enjoyable morning.


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