Glassy Surprises

Colorado Springs‘ Fine Arts Center had long been on my “must see“ list, and when it offered free visitation in March, I finally filled this glaring gap in my education. I wanted to explore at least two exhibits, one permanent, the other temporary, but otherwise had no preconceived notions. Incidentally, the museum will celebrate its centenary throughout this year, having originated as the Broadmoor Arts Academy in 1919.

Immediately upon entering the lobby, my attention was riveted by the Medusa-like light fixture featured above, but the title Chihuly Chandelier didn’t mean anything to me. Later, when I strolled into a darkened gallery highlighted and illuminated by an array of additional glass art, I learned about world-renowned (where have I been?) American glass artist, Dale Chihuly (born 1941), whose designs have dazzled viewers everywhere. They certainly dazzled me, and I became an instant fan. Additional research revealed that a 1976 accident resulted in blindness in the artist’s left eye. The associated loss of depth perception and a subsequent shoulder dislocation both affected his ability to blow glass, and forced him to limit himself to designing, rather than fashioning his art. According to a quote on Wikipedia, Chihuly describes his role as “more choreographer than dancer, more supervisor than participant, more director than actor.”

The Persian Wall Installation was arranged by the artist in 2006 and emulates some of the oldest surviving ancient glasswork from the Persian Empire of the 5th and 4th centuries BC. Concentric circles in contrasting colors captivate and charm.

Macchias are glass bowls characterized by spots (macchia is Italian for spot, from Latin macula). Countless color combinations make each one of these calyx-like structures unique, and assorted varieties resting on pedestals form so-called macchia forests.

The focal point of the room was the Orange Hornet Chandelier, composed of 384 pieces, which add up to a weight of 1200 pounds. In addition to hornets, it reminded me of ristras (from Latin restis, for rope or cord), decorative strings of red chili peppers popular in the American Southwest. The ponderous taper, first installed in Venice in 1993 as a smaller incarnation, had additional elements added specifically for the Fine Arts Center, to commemorate its 2007 reopening after a major expansion.

For the same occasion, the museum’s café was adorned with a third luster, the Gilded Blue Sapphire Chandelier, a cerulean dream with golden touches.

My outing reminded me that chance meetings are often the best. Encountering Chihuly’s creations was a wonderful surprise, and in this instance my ignorance was indeed my bliss.

45 thoughts on “Glassy Surprises

  1. Diese Kreationen beeindrucken mich sehr! Der Vergleich mit Medusen ist passend und überhaupt erinnern mich die Formen und die Oberfläche an Muscheln und Schnecken. Wirklich irre, was der Künstler da gezaubert hat!! LG Simone

    Liked by 2 people

  2. It seems your German readers were mostly as unfamiliar with Chihuly as you had been. Now all of you are excited by his work. In 2017 my wife and I took in a large sample of it at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art:

    A 55-feet-tall piece of his dominates the lobby. And speaking of museums, as soon as I saw your mention of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center I checked to see if that’s the place we visited in 2017, and from the pictures online I knew right away that it is. We paid but it wasn’t a lot. Glad you got in for free.

    Your mention of macchiato and macula made me realize that macchiato is a doublet of [i.e. etymologically equivalent to] the adjective maculate.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am so glad to have finally made it to the Fine Arts Center and to have become acquainted with Chihuly, Steve. You were, of course, ahead of me with regard to both.

      Oklahoma is not really on the way, but if I ever travel there and have some time to spare, I will visit the impressive collection your link took me to. That 55 foot installation in the lobby must be so impressive.

      And I thank thee again for keeping up your Latin lessons. 😊


    • Es freut mich, daß er Dich auch anspricht, Brigitte. Manchmal ist es einfach erfrischend, mit neuen Farb- und Formkombination konfrontiert zu werden, die einen staunen lassen.

      Das Header Foto gefällt mir auch sehr, aber wir wissen ja, was über Selbstlob gesagt wird. 😊

      Herzlichen Dank, liebe Brigitte, und weiterhin eine schöne Woche.


  3. Those are gorgeous! I hope they have those pieces insured! I’m so glad you made the happy discovery of those pieces – I love it when unexpected surprises happen!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow these are amazing, Tanja. I love how vibrant the colors look on glasses. The orange chandelier is just brilliant! I could stare at it for hours. I think orange is such a warm and intense color, not easy to forget. All of the displays are beautiful! What a talented artist!

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    • I think most people are touched by this artist’s creations, Pooja. They make us stop in our tracks and take a second, and third look. I am glad you enjoyed some of his creations. I have since learned that they can be found in many locations. Who knows, maybe even in Poland?!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hallo Tanja, seit ich in einer Chihuly-Ausstellung in Seattle war, bin ich ein Fan und der damals erworbene Kalender wird seitdem wegen der tollen Bilder immer weiter genutzt. Ich wünschte, ich könnte mal eben vorbei schauen und die Ausstellung in Colorado Springs sehen! Danke für die Bilder!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ich bin etwas erstaunt, daß es so lange gedauert hat, ihn für mich zu entdecken. Du warst mir um einige Jahre voraus, liebe Elke.
      Wann immer Ihr uns besuchen werdet, wird ein Besuch im Fine Arts Center mit eingeplant! 😊


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