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"Chihuly: The Nature of Glass," Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, AZ

"Chihuly: The Nature of Glass"
Through May 31, 2009

by Elizabeth Bradley

The Desert Botanical Garden east of downtown Phoenix is a serene oasis of palo verde trees, agaves and succulents washed in dusty greens and earthen colors. Dale Chihuly’s first installation entirely within a desert garden environment is striking. Chihuly’s vibrant glass sculptures glow vividly in the bright desert sun: blue, orange, fluorescent green.

The 17 exhibits gleam from the existing gardens and captivate viewers with their variety of forms and colors. The Sun, created in 2006, stands over 16 feet tall and 14 feet wide, and towers over the entry garden. Chihuly’s monumental chandeliers are suspended above the Cactus and Succulent Galleries. On a more intimate scale, flames of red and orange glass dance among the saguaro cactus. And the final exhibit of gently waving blue rods is “planted” in an overflowing fountain in a quiet courtyard where sunlight filters through the fine leaves of the palo verde trees.

Dale Chihuly, at his Pilchuck Glass School near Stanwood, Washington, has quietly revolutionized the art of blown glass. Beginning in 1965, he studied glass in graduate school and then trained at the Venini glass factory in Venice. Over the years, Chihuly has focused on the effects of light passing through glass. More recently, he has concentrated on organic forms with a dramatic scale. Against the backdrop of one of the world’s finest and most diverse collections of succulent plants is the perfect match of venue and subject.

Some walking involved (about 1 ½ miles) to view the 17 exhibits.
Through May 31, 2009
Desert Botanical Garden
1201 N. Galvin Pkwy
Phoenix, Arizona
Tel. 480.941.1225
For tickets ($15 per adult, $5 per child) and more information, see the website at

Image Credits:
Home page: Blue and Purple Boat
This page: Blue Reeds and Amber Cattails
Photographs by Adam Rodriguez for the Desert Botanical Garden

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