This weekend I had the chance to visit the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix and check out their new Chihuly in the Garden exhibit. Dale Chihuly is the master of glass art installations, and this year's exhibit at the DBG is spectacular. We were fortunate to visit on a day that offered Chihuly After Dark extended evening hours, so we timed our visit to catch the art in both daylight and darkness. I really enjoyed seeing the glass sculptures in both light and darkness, a contrast that I tried to capture in these photos.
My favorite piece was this white sculpture with pink polka dots, because I have great love for both pink and polka dots. I came upon this piece just as the sun started to set, so I was able to capture it in full sun and again as it went down. I really love how the pink glass lights up in the second photo, a dreamy pink that is seen in of so many stunning Arizona desert sunsets.
I had a really hard time deciding if I liked the exhibit better in the daylight, when you can see the desert landscape that Chihuly designed the pieces around, or at night, when the glass was dramatically lit from within. Here are two side by side comparisons for you to see. In the day, the glass looks delicate, particularly in the green and yellow pieces above. Looking at the photos below, the night version of this red and yellow installation is more vibrant when viewed against the sapphire desert sky.
In many instances, I really think seeing the pieces in daylight is essential for understanding the piece. The boat below, full of glass 'passengers', works for me because of the tall reeds surrounding the installation. As you approach, you see glimpses of color through the grass, and only see the full piece when you came to an opening. That vantage point lets you truly appreciate the art, as well as it's reflection in the water.
This white glass installation was another favorite of mine, and truly special when viewed against the setting sun. These amorphous pieces, likened to desert birds, seem to raise their heads toward the sun. While so many of the pieces were brightly colored, I loved the white glass the most against the green, yellow and brown backdrop of the desert. I especially loved seeing them next to these saguaros!
Chihuly brought the drama with these two pieces. The read and yellow installation is like a fiery summer sun, scorching the landscape. The blue and white piece, so delicate during the daytime, reminded me of sharp icicles at night. Side by side, they are like fire and ice.
A very different display is seen in the succulent garden. These colorful balls hang over the plants from the pavilion like decorations at a party. At first sight, I didn't particularly like them. But when I started taking photos of the succulents with the colors just in the background, I appreciated the way the colors of the art played off the colors in the succulents. It's definitely not a contrast you see naturally occurring in the desert, and that made it fun!
Chihuly in the Garden is on display at the DBG through May of this year, and there are still several nights to catch Chihuly After Dark. The gardens are spectacular in their own right, so visiting while you can also see the Chihuly pieces makes the visit that much more special. After looking through all of my photos, I can say that I preferred seeing the art in daylight when I could view it in contrast to its desert setting. If you visit, let me know how you prefer the exhibit. I'll leave you with a few more images of the art and the beautiful Arizona desert.