Cactus and Flowers and Glass, Oh My! Chihuly in the Garden.

Chihuly Phoenix

Glass sculptures at the exhibit’s entrance

Dale Chihuly’s glasswork has been called smart, stimulating, magical, hypnotic, and kaleidoscopic. It’s been compared to Alice in Wonderland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. As we walked through the Desert Botanical Gardens on a warm spring evening in Phoenix last week, these descriptions seemed apt.

Glass in all colors all shapes all sizes, and colors twisted and bent up to the sky and down to the ground. Some pieces mimicked shapes and sights of the desert, while others contrasted sharply. All of them elicited oohs and aahs from the viewers. One of our favorite pieces was a giant tree-like sculpture whose “branches” all ended in snakeheads! We did also coincidentally see an actual snake in the gardens as well. Once we knew it was a harmless King Snake (according to the 6 year old boy nearby who would surely know) it was fascinating to watch him slither through the plants and down a wall.

There are three time slots for the exhibit in Phoenix which runs through May 18th. You can go from eight to noon and see the sculptures in the morning sun, from 12 to 4 and see them in full sun, or when we did, from 4 to 8 PM and see them both in the late afternoon/setting sun and then at night when they light the sculptures. Anytime you go it is a magnificent show, but it was quite spectacular to see them in both the light and dark.

The gardens were fairly crowded due to the popularity of this event, and most visitors were moving slowly, so be prepared to be patient. There’s plenty to look at everywhere – lots of plants, flowers, and birds  in addition to glass – and four hours is plenty of time, so no need to rush. Wearing a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen and carrying a water bottle (drinking fountains for refills available) will make the daytime experience more enjoyable.

The cost for entry is $22/$20 for seniors. To also visit the spring butterfly exhibit (which we did not do) is an additional $3.

If you won’t be in Phoenix in the next month, perhaps you can see another Chihuly exhibit. Here are some current and upcoming locations to see this amazing work:

London through April 21st at the Halcyon Gallery
Tacoma, Washington at the Museum of Glass  – Ongoing
Seattle, Washington at the Seattle Center – Ongoing
Oklahoma City Museum of Art   – Ongoing
Meridian Arts Center in St. Petersburg, Florida – Ongoing
Dalichi Museum in Nagoya, Japan – Ongoing

Exhibits will be held later in 2014 in New Orleans, Colorado Springs, Denver, and Dublin.

We hope you have a chance to enjoy some Chihuly glass or some other art wherever you are this week or this weekend!

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