Nature of Glass’ exhibit draws national attention

Jacqueline Bernatt

nt to do this weekend? Ever thought of visiting the Desert Botanical Gardens? Between now and May 31 artist Dale Chihuly’s work is being exhibited at the gardens in The Nature of Glass.Dale Chihuly’s artistic career began in the 1960’s.

Today he has become a renowned artist admired the world over for his avant-garde and exquisitely crafted blown glass sculptures that can be found in over 200 museums all over the world.

Chihuly’s relationship with the Desert Botanical Gardens began in the last few years.

“We called them and told them we would love to house the exhibition here,” said Elaine McGinn, director of Planning and Exhibits.

“After about a year of enticing them they said they would love to do one here,” she added.

Once the exhibition was confirmed the proper preparations were made.

“We had to walk with the Chihuly team to select the sites. We had to build concrete bases, update our electrical system to make sure everything could be lit up at night, and we had to hire additional staff,” McGinn said.

Getting the pieces to the garden wasn’t simple either.

“Chihuly shipped everything disassembled. It took five semi trailers and several days,” said marketing manager John Sallot.

“The Sun in the Ottosen Entry Garden has three armatures that support it, 12,000 pieces of glass, and it weighs about 7,000 pounds. The Sun was challenging because we had to bring in a large crane. It took six people five days,” McGinn said.

While Chihuly has done several exhibitions at botanical gardens this one is distinctly unique.

“First of all, it is completely outdoor. It’s the largest garden exhibit to date as well as his first one in a desert setting,” McGinn said.

Of the 15 pieces, two were crafted for this exhibit: Desert Wildflower Towers placed with the agave near the entrance, and Pink Mirrored Fioris in the Cactus Garden.

“Dale Chihuly at a garden is the blockbuster of all blockbusters,” Sallot said.

This event has brought national recognition to the valley’s garden, as well as a lot of local attention.

“The garden has been here since 1939. We are always working to introduce ourselves to the community,” Sallot said.

If the art alone doesn’t draw in the crowds, “Spiked” certainly will. Feb. 26 and May 14 between 5:30 and 8:30 on Thursday evenings for $25 you can enjoy a Chihuly themed cocktail hour, with food, and musical entertainment provided. For example on the night The Sun is featured, guests can enjoy tequila sunrise cocktails.

Reservations are available 8-12, 12-4, and 4-8. Sallot enthusiastically states, “The exhibit really has many personalities based on the time of day you come. You come during the day it’s very bright, but you come at night it’s very sparkly. It’s really brought a sense of excitement to the gardens.”

It’s the kind of excitement you can feel when you see the first glittering piece of glass playfully shocking the landscape by day or shining through the darkness at night. With student tickets on sale for $7.50, there is no reason to miss the magic.

About Author

These are archived stories from Mesa Legend editions before Fall 2018. See article for corresponding author.

Comment here