Chihuly @ Cheekwood

     Sunday, November 7 marked the closing of the Dale Chihuly installation at Cheekwood Botanical Gardens  in Nashville.

     An incredible, whimsical arm from Chihuly’s body of work that Nashville was fortunate to have available for our enjoyment…at one of our revered old Southern manors.

      Cheekwood was originally built with the revenue from Maxwell House coffee , owned by the Cheek family. Fifty years ago it became a public art museum and botanical garden. The Symphony holds outdoor Summertime concerts here, occasionally, and I have fond memories of boarding a school bus and taking field trips to see “The Trees of Christmas” over the years. 

     I can also distinctly remember, as a young man, first viewing an exhibit of George Hurrell’s photos  at Cheekwood .

…those images struck, and the memories have stuck with me for many years.

     Though this installation, or its themes, are not exclusive to Nashville or Cheekwood, each piece is unique in its own right.

     These Niijima Floats were inspired by the Japanese island of Niijima and the traditional fishing floats that are used there. Chihuly and crew  have transformed them into the largest ‘free-blown’ glass objects in the world….each one a stand alone work of art.

     Dale Chihuly was greatly influenced by his Mother’s gardens so he enjoys placing his work in settings that combine the organic with the  ‘art-ganic’…..(I made that up… sorry! .. the ‘art-ganic part’,  not about the gardens….)

       I would love to have had unlimited photographic access to this entire installation because I could imagine, while strolling along the accepted pathways, wading into the water and taking water level perspectives of some of these works. …for instance the Walla Wallas which are named for the walla walla onions that are grown in Chihuly’s home state of Washington.

      I first became aware of Chihuly’s work through a few small pieces that were for sale at the annual Temple Art Festival, but not until I had seen images of his various installations, including the Bellagio lobby in Las Vegas, did I realize how far above merely ‘glass blowing’ his art had risen.

     After leaving the ‘show’ I Googled Dale Chihuly and one of my favorite things about him, personally,  is that he never seems to burden his art with philosophical explanations.  I grow so bored with that, from painters, writers, film-makers, and especially photographers.  I would rather hear a photographer say,

“I thought it looked cool and I felt compelled to capture it”,

than to labor through, 

      “This represents the existential elements of light and dark,  the yin and yang of nature’s combative embrace on…blah, blah…”

about a photo of an egg… 

 Chihuly seems to say, (and this is not a quote) , “I did it because it seemed like a fun thing to do!”

I did pick up this quote.

 “One of my favorite artists has always been Harry Houdini – maybe that’s what I’m trying to be – a magician.”

Magic it was…!


~ by rkpowers on November 10, 2010.

9 Responses to “Chihuly @ Cheekwood”

  1. Oops…I forgot to leave the Chihuly links


  2. What a blast! Talk about eye candy…judging from your photos you had a great time.


  3. Nice tribute Randy. We had Chihuly on our morning show at KING in Seattle. It was very early and we were fairly security conscious because there had been a shooting at Jewish Center there not so long ago. We were mostly carpetbaggers and Philistines and none of us knew what he looked like. About 5:30 am, the security guard called up and said he had a homeless man that was claiming he was going to be on the show. I went down and there was this old fat guy in a sweatshirt with an eye-patch. It was Dale Chihuly.


  4. When somebody is a genius without knowing why, the critics call them a “primitive.’ Like Grandma Moses or Elvis. Funny, that we often pay more attention to the explanation than the art.


  5. Nice insight, Steve. Chihuly certainly doesn’t look the part…or maybe he looks EXACTLY the part. So refreshing to see someone who creates ‘images’….works…. rather than creates ‘an image’. Who do you think the media, and therefore I’m afraid, the public, is most interested in, Dale Chihuly or Paris Hilton….no need to answer….! I would love to spend a day or so hanging around his studio, watching the process.


  6. My Poem on the Subject

    Take me love

    To a Spanish land

    where the tense of the verb

    separates the permanent

    from the passing.

    Teach me a phrase

    in a forgotten tongue

    that rolls its r’s as

    it revels in the hammock.

    Return to me

    a child’s small hands

    that marvels at the clay

    and not at the classics.

    Forget with me

    false onion layers

    requiring that art

    Take history as its prisoner.


  7. Thank you


  8. Beautiful pictures, I love Chihuly! Thanks for sharing : )


    • Thanks, Carlie. It was a beautiful ‘installation’…that sounds so wrong…in a beautiful setting. I almost missed it. Did you see Steve’s comment above…the third comment…about Chihuly? I love that artistic eccentricity…when it is real and not created for the shock value


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