Detail from "Rain Dance," an original quilt by Sherrie Spangler

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Color immersion with Chihuly in Seattle

Judi, Janet, Pat and me engulfed in reflections
from Chihuly glass.
My recent travels to soak up color and inspiration climaxed Monday when I visited the new Chihuly Garden and Glass at Seattle Center with friends from my art quilt group STITCH.

It was GLORIOUS!!!!

Breathtaking doesn't begin to describe the effect of sunshine pouring through a brilliant glass ceiling (above and below) in the Persian Ceiling gallery, bathing viewers and the room in every beautiful color of the rainbow. And this was just a small part of the exhibit.

Looking up ...

... at the glass ceiling on a sunny day.
This explains the photos above.

If that was too much color all at once, you can decompress for a minute with photos of our approach to the exhibit. We took the ferry from Bremerton to Seattle on a morning that was so blue we could hardly believe it was October in the Northwest. (Normally it's gray and rainy by now.) Sky, buildings, boats and bay all were shades of blue. After failing to hail a cab to take us to Seattle Center, we ended up on a city bus that got us there.

Seattle Center is a 74-acre campus on the site of the 1962 World's Fair and is now an arts and entertainment center. The sculpture above reminded me of bamboo, but now that I've put it below the photo of downtown it's making me think of skyscrapers.

We oohed and aahed at the artistic buildings as we wandered toward the new Chihuly exhibit. Above is a glimpse of it from outside the fence, before we bought our tickets. That red and yellow glass might look pretty dramatic against the gray winter Seattle sky, but I was glad we saw it on a sunny day.

Let's step inside ...

The Northwest Room:
Pendleton blankets from Chihuly's personal collection.

Dale Chihuly is from the Northwest (born in 1941 in Tacoma), and the Northwest Room (one of 11 distinct parts of the exhibit) showcases some of his collections of Northwest Coast Indian baskets, trade blankets and photos of Native Americans. Influenced by the woven designs of native art, he developed a method of laying down threads of glass on the outside of glass vessels. A few pieces from the Northwest Room:

Sorry -- I didn't get the whole sign, but this tells a little.

The Sealife Room has this stupendous 15-foot swirling sculpture swimming with marine animals found in the Pacific Northwest:

The Mille Fiori Room was a glowing world of plant-like glass forms:


Drawing Walls:

After losing sight in his left eye in a 1976 car accident in England and dislocating his shoulder body surfing in 1979, Chihuly began drawing as a way to communicate his vision and designs to his glass team. The drawings evolved to become an important part of his expression, and many of them are hung in the exhibit.

The Ikebana and Float Boats gallery:

Wooden rowboat filled with glass ikebana (Japanese art of flower arranging) elements.
(A docent said Chihuly likes to place his pieces on black plexiglass to create the dramatic reflections.)

Boat filled with balls inspired by Japanese fishing net floats.

The Macchia Forest:

Inside of a Macchia Forest vessel.
Macchia is Italian for "spot." This series uses about 300 colors and has the most fantastical spots. A predominant feature is the contrasting color of the lip.

Outside of a Macchia Forest vessel.
It was like walking through a glowing glass forest.

The Glasshouse (as opposed to greenhouse):

Space Needle is framed by flowering glass vines inside the Glasshouse.
The outdoor Garden:

Me and the Space Needle reflected in a glass ball.
We spent a lot of time wandering in a dazed state of awe through the garden. We had fun matching up our clothes colors to glass sculptures.
Judi in red.

Pat in purple.

Janet in blue and green.

Me in every color.

My favorite color -- just like my T-shirt.
The Collections Cafe:

We wrapped up our visit with a delicious lunch at the Collections Cafe, which showcases various collections of the artist, including these framed bottle openers in the restroom. He also had accordians hanging from the ceiling. Lunch included cheese curds with a bourbon-tomato sauce that was excellent! (I think it was bourbon -- again, I failed to take notes. But it was good.)

We all agreed it was a magical day.
Do visit if you have the chance!

I did a blog post on Chihuly glass baskets at the Tacoma Art Museum here:

Here's a link to Dale Chihuly's biography on his web site:

Have a colorful day


The Idaho Beauty said...

It's going to take you awhile to come down from that experience! I didn't know about the textile influence. Had no idea he collected the Pendleton blankets and native american things. Marvelous.

Vivian Helena said...

Oh, my, the colors are over whelming.
Amazing photos... I can see so many abstract quilt designs. Fantastic, thanks for sharing.
Also thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting! vivian

Judy Ferguson said...

I think that I have watched every video Chihuly has made at least once. He is such an amazing artist. Alas, I have never seen his work in person. Your photos are amazing. Thanks for posting these.

Sue Andrus said...

Thanks so much for the virtual tour! I love glass of any kind and especially art glass. I have only seen a very small exhibit of Chihuly pieces. That looked like a Wonderful experience!

sonja said...

Hi,What a wonderful day filled with all things Chihuly! the blamket roo floored me.i love his wildness of color and shapes!thank you for the tour i will have to go back agian. and in doing so i think i saw a friend of mine with you all, is that Pat R., the high energy and prolific quilter from Gig Harbor? i am from the QA list and wanted to say thank you sharing that amazing color with us. give Pat a hug from me!
Aloha, Sonja