Chihuly at the Arboretum – unadulterated bliss

As I try to describe the spectacular bursts of color and beauty at the “Chihuly at the Dallas Arboretum” exhibit, I’m reminded of my diabetic son and how we allowed him to eat candy only on rare occasions. When he did pop a Skittle or Starburst into his little mouth, he would close his eyes in unadulterated bliss. That’s the childlike glee and wonder you’ll feel viewing each colorful glass masterpiece. You can see my photo slideshow here.

World-renowned artist Dale Chihuly was in Dallas today to give a sneak peek at the bold hues and complicated creations now on view at the Arboretum. The exhibit officially opens Saturday and runs through November 5th.

“I just try to make something nobody’s seen before,” Chihuly said. “I try to make it as fresh as I can and make it as beautiful as I can.”

I’m fascinated by how they’ll handle the first Texas hail storm (“it’s pretty strong,” Chihuly claimed), but the fragility of the glass is a big part of its exquisite wonder. Chihuly has done ten shows in gardens before (though he admits he’s never experienced our run-of-the-mill golf-ball-sized hail).

Chihuly took his glass-blowing team all over the world to learn a variety of techniques, and each creation is completely different from the other. The glass sculptures, which were shipped in five 50 foot trailers and took 12 days to install, are carefully cleaned using cloth diapers and Swiffers. The only negative: Chihuly’s glass is so jaw-droppingly dazzling you may find yourself strolling pass the stunning salvia, flawless ferns and perfect impatiens with nary a glance.

All the Arboretum, Park Board and donor-types responsible for bringing this coup to Dallas were on hand to welcome Chihuly and his wife. “Get out there twice,” encouraged Gillian Breidenbach with corporate sponsor Bank of America, “once during the day and once at night. You’ll get a completely different perspective.” The glasswork will be specially lit after dark.

The Arboretum is open from 9am to 5pm and will offer special garden hours from 6-10pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings for the special Chihuly Nights illuminated viewing. Day entry is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, $9 for children and $10 for parking. At night, non-member adults pay $20 and member adults pay $12 (there’s no parking fee at night), and a family membership costs $109. (If you enjoy the fun hillside concerts, the membership will pay for itself in no time.) For more details about pricing and memberships, visit their website here.


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