My love affair with Dale Chihuly began about a decade ago when I stumbled upon a public television airing of Chihuly Over Venice. I had no idea who Chihuly was, but five minutes into watching and I was spellbound. I grabbed a videotape and popped it into the recorder sensing that what I was about to see was worth seeing again.
“In the moment of knowing a live,” says Ray Bradbury, “intensify it.” That’s just what I did, making it a personal project to learn everything I could about this prolific artist. Since I like to spice up my travels with explorations, Hunting Chihuly became a favorite. I tracked down his work wherever I could find it and have admired his installations in Minneapolis, Tacoma, Seattle, Madison, as well as at the Dallas Museum of Art, Kew Gardens in London and, of course, at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.
When I heard that the deYoung Museum in San Francisco was having a monumental display of his work, I knew it was not to be missed. Thanks to Southwest Airlines, it was easy to make a daytrip out of my next Chihuly quest. I decided to make the trip on September 9 since it’s a memorable milestone day for me and this seemed like a great way to celebrate. I invited the delightful Sharee Schrader, a recent participant in Compelling Storytelling, to join me. She was a perfect travel companion. Besides sharing my enthusiasm for the stunning works that fill eleven galleries, Sharee is also a voracious photographer and took dozens of pictures which I’m hoping I’ll be able to share some of them with you later.
I also enjoyed the descriptions in each room which discussed Chihuly’s sources of inspiration. In one of the first galleries, the wall plaque talked about how he got the idea to climb up on a stepladder and drop molten glass on the ground below to see what would happen. The pieces in that room are the result of that experiment.
The museum expects that by the time the show closes on September 28, more than a million people will have viewed it. I can’t begin to describe what we saw, but you can get a sense of it by watching this Chihuly at the deYoung slide show.
Chihuly loves to talk about his work, about creativity and the things that inspire him. Here are a few of his observations.
Chihuly on Chihuly
A lot of creativity has to do with energy, confidence and focus. These are the elements for making creative things. It’s probably the same thing whether you’re making a movie, whether you’re an entrepreneur doing business, whether you’re an artist, or whether you’re a gardener or a cook. These are all the same qualities that it takes.
Glassblowing is a spontaneous medium that suits me. It requires split-second decisions and a great team. It’s very athletic. The more you blow, the better you get. I’ve been at it for forty years and am as infatuated as when I blew my first bubble in my basement in South Seattle.
I thought it was the hot glass that was so mysterious, but then I realized it was the air that went into it that was miraculous.
You know, you don’t teach art. That’s the last thing you’d ever teach. All you have to do is set up the environment and it happens.
I’ve been such a nomad all my life. I don’t think I’ll ever lose the desire to travel to beautiful places—one more archipelago, another round of standing stones, another glassblowing session in some exotic spot, or just one more trip to Venice to see the full moon over the Grand Canal.