One evening Cory came home from work talking about an extraordinary exhibition he’d read about on MSNBC showcasing sculptures from a famous American glassblower. Cory hardly ever has anything he just has to see, so when he does, we make sure not to miss it. And that’s how we found ourselves at the Dale Chihuly: Beyond The Object exhibition at the Halcyon Gallery less than 24 hours before we would be leaving for Austria. (We hadn’t even started packing yet. Clearly we have our priorities in order.)
My mind was blown (pun intended) from the minute we walked in and stood beneath the Persian Pergola Ceiling, a canopy of colorful glass sculptures resembling jellyfish, coral, and seashells. On each side of the pergola, dominating the window space in front of the gallery, are two equally beautiful sculptures, remarkable not only for their size, but their exceptional detail as well.
The exhibition is spread out over three floors, each piece’s placement carefully chosen by Dale Chihuly himself to, as the name of the exhibition suggests, appropriately examine the effect of glass on its environment and vice versa.
After exploring the floor we entered on, we headed to the upper floor where three magnificent glass chandeliers hung from the ceiling, their curly tendrils reminding me of the tentacles of an octopus. Slender, reed-like sculptures and colorful paintings line the walls of the space, leaving the center of the room open for visitors to wonder at the intricate designs of the sculptures overhead. The light strikes each piece in just the right places to showcase their graceful beauty.
The lower floor features more of Chihuly’s paintings and glass sculptures, ranging in size and design from the massive Amethyst Icicle Tower with sharp, spiky edges to the more delicate elegance of Chihuly’s Baskets. Each piece is so different from the next – it’s hard for a non-artist such as myself to comprehend the same person creating all of this!
Those in London may be familiar with Chihuly’s art without even realizing it. If you’ve ever visited the Victoria and Albert Museum, you’ve no doubt noticed the 30-foot tall glass explosion hanging from the ceiling in the central rotunda – that’s Chihuly’s handiwork. His sculptures are displayed in galleries and museums across the United States and in a few selected countries outside of North America. Involved in an accident that blinded him in his left eye, and then another that rendered him incapable of holding a glass blowing pipe, Dale Chihuly now designs each piece but hires other artists to complete the work under his supervision.
Just when we thought our tour of the Halcyon Gallery was complete, an employee we’d been speaking with asked if we’d like to see something special. He took us to a small hallway with a staircase behind a velvet rope. Up the stairs we went, feeling mischievous, like we were doing something we weren’t supposed to. I heard a strange humming sound, and then as we entered a small, dark room I laid eyes on this masterpiece.
I don’t even know what it’s called because it’s not part of the exhibition yet, but it was my absolute favorite piece that we saw at the gallery. Like many of the others throughout the exhibition, this one’s form was primarily made up of intertwining tendrils, but instead of being accentuated by external lights, this one made its own light. The electricity really made this piece come to life. I do hope they’ll find a way to make it a part of the regular gallery – it’s truly a sight to see.
Entrance into Dale Chihuly: Beyond The Object is free. (Good thing, seeing as both Cory and I accidentally left our wallets at home the day we went!) Chihuly’s sculptures will be exhibited at the Halcyon Gallery until 5 April 2014. If you miss this particular exhibition, it’s still worth checking out the gallery – they always have something interesting to see. Before Beyond The Object, Bob Dylan’s iron sculptures were displayed here. Also, check out the small Halcyon Gallery across the street – there are lots of unique pieces in there right now from artists like Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali!