The exhibition “Chihuly in the Desert” mixes art with architecture and the desert landscape


Shapes of purple glass rise amid green saguaros at the Desert Botanical Garden, one of two Phoenix-area sites showcasing artwork by acclaimed glass artist Dale Chihuly. They are part of “Chihuly in the Desert”, a collaborative exhibition undertaken with Taliesin West in Scottsdale, where large red shapes interspersed with glass orbs rise from a pool of water as if they were searching for the desert sky. .

The exhibition highlights the intersection of nature, art and architecture, primarily through large-scale installations located outdoors and smaller-scale pieces presented in interior spaces. Several pieces have been created specifically for this exhibition, which runs until June 19, 2022.

“What stands out here is nature as a tremendous source of inspiration,” says Stuart Graff, President and CEO of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. He is based in Taliesin West, which was designed by Wright as his winter home and desert laboratory for organic architecture integrating built and natural environments.

“What we’re seeing are two masters pushing their materials to the limit and the conversations between their masterpieces,” says Graff.

Click to enlarge Dale Chihuly, Red Reeds and Niijima Floats, 2021, Taliesin West, Scottsdale, Arizona.  - © 2021 STUDIO CHIHULY.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  PHOTO BY NATHANIEL WILLSON

Dale Chihuly, Red reeds and Niijima floats, 2021, Taliesin West, Scottsdale, Arizona.

© 2021 Chihuly Studio. All rights reserved. Photo by Nathaniel Willson

Taliesin West presents five installations outdoors, where they interact with the grass, water and plant matter of the desert. Inside a garden room, viewers see several forms of Chihuly’s basket. General admission tickets for a 90-minute guided tour titled In a New Light: Wright and Chihuly, which includes all six facilities at Taliesin West, cost $ 49.

In January, the site will launch a 60-minute self-guided tour Friday through Sunday evening, which will feature five Chihuly installations with lighting. Some works are also visible during Sunsets and Sips happy hours on the site.

The Desert Botanical Garden displays Chihuly’s works in several outdoor spaces, as well as an indoor gallery. Like Taliesin West, visitors can explore these works day and night. For each experience, general admission tickets cost from $ 29.95 to $ 39.95.

“It’s really like seeing two different exhibits,” says Elaine McGinn, Experience Manager at Desert Botanical Garden. “We find that people are particularly intrigued by the neon-lit tumbleweed they see after dark,” she adds.

With “Chihuly in the Desert”, Taliesin West presents the artist’s work for the first time. For Desert Botanical Garden, the exhibition follows earlier installations of his work in 2009 and 2013.

His work was first exhibited in Arizona in 1982, when the Phoenix Art Museum presented “Dale Chihuly: Glass” and the Tucson Museum of Art presented “Dale Chihuly: Recent Works in Glass”. In 2002, the Phoenix Art Museum held another exhibition of the iconic artist’s work.

Click to enlarge Dale Chihuly, Opal and Amber Tower, 2018, Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, installed in 2021. - © 2021 CHIHULY STUDIO.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  PHOTO BY NATHANIEL WILLSON

Dale Chihuly, Opal and Amber Tower, 2018, Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, installed in 2021.

© 2021 Chihuly Studio. All rights reserved. Photo by Nathaniel Willson

Chihuly’s pieces are part of more than 200 museum collections around the world. Desert Botanical Garden has the Desert Tours work of art comprising a trio of large botanical forms located near the entrance to the garden.

This is just the latest collaboration for Desert Botanical Garden and for Taliesin West. For several years, the garden has collaborated with the Arizona Ballet to present performances on an expansive outdoor stage with desert plants and rock formations as a backdrop. Taliesin West’s recent collaborators include CONDER / dance and Southwest Shakespeare Company.

Fulfilling this particular partnership has been a multi-year process, according to McGinn, who recalls that a preview crew from Seattle-based Chihuly’s studio took a tour in September 2019. She is particularly excited about the timing, reckoning. given all the closures that locations and customers have experienced due to Covid-19.

“We really wanted to come back with something special for the community,” says McGinn. “We know Chihuly’s work makes people happy.”

“Chihuly in the Desert” continues through June 19, 2022, at the Desert Botanical Garden and Taliesin West. Buy your tickets in advance on the exhibition site.


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