Photos by MARY RICHE/Text by CHUCK OFFENBURGER
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Nov. 19, 2022 — The artist’s Slovakian last name, “Chihuly,” sounds like some kind of folk dance, doesn’t it? And, let me tell you, his glass artistry makes your imagination dance!
On our way to a stay on Marco Island, Fla., we overnighted in St. Petersburg, and before we left that city, we took in a tremendous permanent collection here of the glass art of Dale Chihuly, a native of Tacoma, Wash. The two of us have seen different Chihuly installations, indoors and outdoors, from coast to coast. We both felt like this one gives you a feeling of being really immersed in the detailed artistry. Part of that is that you “meet” the artist in an excellent video which runs continuously when the exhibit is open.
In our photos here, we wanted to show a couple of pieces with one or othe other of us in the photo to give you a sense of scale. But Mary also shot extreme close-ups “to try to record what my eye was seeing at another level. Sometimes I feel like the lens of my eye is an extension of my camera, and I want to capture it in a still photo.”
This eye-popping installation, nicknamed the “Glass Garden,” is 40 feet long, 15 feet wide and up to 15 feet tall! A wonderful thing about Chihuly exhibits is that, as a sign on the wall explains, people are encouraged to take photographs and post them on social media, too.
Home of the Chiluly Collection in the Central Arts District of downtown St. Petersburg, Fla., across the street from the Morean Arts Center.
A large photo that tells of the early career of Dale Chihuly.
Chihuly in more recent years. He lost the site in one eye in a car accident in the 1970s. Soon after, he had a severe shoulder injury in a body surfing incident, and that compromised his ability to lift and use the heavy glass blowing equipment. Thereafter, he developed a “team apoproach” to his art, with several other glass artists working as his long-term employees — and they’ve been very prolific the past 40 years.
Mary Riche standing in front of a display titled “Macchia Forest” and featuring these huge creations — like cups or opened flowers or bowls.
This photo may initially be confusing to look at, but it’s Chuck Offenburger walking in a hallway under a special Chihuly ceiling.
Look close and you’ll see Mary photographing a boat load of very colorful glass balls and a few others floating on water outside the boat.
Here’s the photo Mary was shooting of the boat full of balls.
Mary getting a close-up of another amazing Chihuly piece.
Red spears to the right.
Red spears to the left.
What a fantastic chandelier!
A whole lot of blue.
Tangled beauty in blue and black.
Close up of the “Glass Garden.”
The color, the lines, the detail, the flow — amazing!
How does he think of this? Then how does he make it? Dale Chihuly and his team are surely artistic geniuses.