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Taliesin West, Desert Botanical Garden present "Chihuly in the Desert"

By Chadd Scott

 

Dale Chihuly - Desert Fiori, 2021 |Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix |© 2021 Chihuly Studio. All rights reserved. Photo by Nathaniel Willson

 

Two of the Phoenix area’s most stunning backdrops augment their visual delights with the exhibition of new works from famed studio glass artist Dale Chihuly. Taking place at Desert Botanical Garden and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West, “Chihuly in The Desert” showcases installations across multiple settings – inside the buildings, on the lawns, in the water and emerging from the desert itself.

Chihuly’s installations harmonize with the beauty and diversity of the locations, showcasing a remarkable intersection of American art and architecture set amid the magnificent backdrop of the Sonoran Desert. 

The project dates to 2017 when leadership from both institutions began conversations with the Chihuly Studio about a joint presentation. While Desert Botanical Garden has hosted Chihuly artwork twice before, this marks Taliesin West’s first ever art exhibition. The UNESCO World Heritage site used its public pandemic closure from March through October 2020 to update the campus and complete preservation projects in preparation for the huge installation.

“Each day we check the artworks in the morning and evening for any changes or problems that may have occurred since our last check,” Niki Stewart, Vice President, Chief Learning & Engagement Officer, Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, said of Taliesin West’s care for the installations. “The Chihuly Studio team supplied us with a notebook that includes care instructions for cleaning, dusting and maintaining the artworks’ integrity and beauty throughout the exhibition which we follow to the letter.”

 

Dale Chihuly - Desert Fiori, 2021 |Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix |© 2021 Chihuly Studio. All rights reserved. Photo by Nathaniel Willson

 

“Chihuly in the Desert” at Taliesin West features installations combining art, architecture and nature by pairing the work of architect Frank Lloyd Wright and Chihuly in a way never done before. 

“Wright and Chihuly have much in common,” Stewart said. “Both men are deeply inspired by the natural world and world cultures; these inspirations are seen side-by-side in the Chihuly artworks and architecture of Taliesin West. For instance, they both travelled to Japan and became inspired by the art, architecture and artifacts they found. They also share an appreciation for Native American art, especially the natural beauty of handmade baskets and pottery.”

Both men also share a dedication to teaching and learning and created ways to share their craft and passion, Wright through the Taliesin Fellowship and Chihuly through the Pilchuck Glass School. Additional similarities between the artists are explored on a guided tour of Taliesin West, “In A New Light: Wright and Chihuly.”

On view at both locations through June 19, 2022, the appearance of the installations will transform as the seasons shift from winter into spring and summer.

At Desert Botanical Garden, Chihuly’s large-scale installations tucked among the world-class collection of desert plants takes on a dynamic quality. Ever-changing light conditions – soft and harsh, high and low, sunrise and sunset – penetrating the glass and reflecting off of the artworks make for a presentation that changes by the hour. Situated amongst meticulously maintained grounds highlighting the Sonoran Desert’s remarkable ecology, when that landscape begins blooming in spring, the Chihuly’s artworks will be swept up into a joyous chorus of vibrant, living color.

 

Dale Chihuly - Neodymium Reeds, 2021 |Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix |© 2021 Chihuly Studio. All rights reserved. Photo by Nathaniel Willson

 

Similarly, at Taliesin West, seasonally evolving light conditions will make for dramatically different perceptions of the exhibition.

“In winter, the sun is lower, offering warming effects and dramatic shadows. The days are shorter offering more opportunities to view the installations when illuminated at night,” Stewart explains. “Perhaps the most stunning change will be to the indoor installation, Golden Celadon Baskets. These are placed in the Garden Room, Wright’s personal living space. The light in that room is filtered through canvas panels in the ceiling. As the sun moves in the sky, the quality and color of the light changes all day long – and so does the luminous color in Chihuly’s baskets.”

Art, architecture, design, nature, craft, it’s hard imagining anyone not finding something to enjoy about “Chihuly in the Desert.” To purchase tickets to Taliesin West and/or the Desert Botanical Garden, or to learn more about the exhibition, visit ChihulyintheDesert.org.

 

 

 

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