Glass art by Dale Chihuly highlights Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix

Posted By Mike Padgett

Nov. 28, 2008

Those handsome apparitions sprouting among the cacti and trees in the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix are the genius of an artist whose achievements have revolutionized the art of handblown glass.

In between the desert garden’s saguaros, creosote bushes, mesquite trees and barrel cacti are many new and unique works by Dale Chiluly, considered a major influence within the studio glass movement. The exhibit, called “Chihuly: The Nature of Glass,” began Nov. 22 and runs through May 31, 2009 at the garden, 1201 N. Galvin Parkway. Admission is free for garden members. For ticket information, visit, or call 480-481-8188.

The brilliant colors of the glass sculptures undergo subtle changes throughout the day, depending on the angle and intensity of the sunlight. The desert garden has arranged a timed reservation system for members and non-members to ensure adequate parking and to keep the number of guests at a comfortable level.

Garden staff and volunteers use soft cloths and large brushes to wipe dust from the handblown glass. Sensitive to the needs of photographers, the workers will step back from the glass sculptures when visitors are snapping photos.

Chihuly’s work has been exhibited in public gardens in the past, but this is the first time he has exhibited in an outdoor setting. More than 200 museums worldwide feature Chihuly’s work. They include the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington D.C. and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Following are photos of a few of Chihuly’s exhibits in the 145-acre  Phoenix garden:

Compare the size of Chihuly’s work, “The Sun,” to garden visitors approaching the glass sculpture at the left.


Chihuly’s “Amber Cattails” exhibit, planted among the desert flowers, is just inside the garden’s main entrance.

The “Blue Reeds, Marlins and Floats” exhibit is under and adjacent to a mesquite tree, to the right of the path into the garden.

Deep within the desert garden, Chihuly planted his “Reed Reeds” and “Black Saguaros” sculptures in between a selection of cacti.

In the foreground is Chihuly’s “Float Boat” exhibit. His “Red Reeds, Black Saguaros” sculptures are in the background.

Chihuly’s “Blue and Purple Boat” exhibit is a rowboat filled with glass sculptures. It is in the shade of a gnarled desert tree, itself a natural sculpture.

The smooth, lavender and purple “Neodymium Reeds” exhibit is a contrast to its rough and spiny neighbors.

Not all of Chihuly’s glass sculptures are in the ground or at eye level. A few are overhead, like his “Orange Hornet and Eelgrass Chandlier.”

With his “Campiello Barbaro Chandlier,” Chihuly shows that some of  his work is designed to hang. In the right background is his “Aquamarine Chandelier.”

Chihuly, with his “White Belugas” sculptures, works in white glass as well as in many bright colors.

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Nov 28th, 2008

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