When I first visited Seattle I noticed a glassblowing studio on 5th Ave. My tourism map labeled it as a popular city sight, letting me know nicely (and with a cartoon likeness of the building) that my interest was not in any way unique ….womp womp. Unfortunately that also meant the products, made desirable by an inherent wonder of the glassblowing world and ‘exotic’ inclination generally felt towards blown glass creations, would cost me a firstborn. The beautiful designs in the window caught my eye at first, but the thought of sneaking in a glassblowing lesson before flying enticed me more. The class was booked, of course, and I sighed as I left, restricting my Seattle shopping to a few boutiques and steering clear of more foul temptresses 0f gorgeous home goods.
A few weeks ago I was in Dallas for work and stumbled on something called the “Chihuly” glasswork at the Arboretum. I had an hour free between site visits, so I skipped inhaling carbs at a deli in favor of the Chihuly Glass Garden Art Exhibit. Rumors flew between crowds that this artist was from Seattle. Could it be that this artist followed me to Dallas (in my fantasy world where glass artists know me) and gave me another shot at seeing his work? My eyes darted between wonders looking for signs or photo-ops, a chance to visually identify the artist whose name I never learned before flying back to the Maryland that one fateful day, all Sleepless-In-Seattle (never mind that I could have googled him if I cared that much about his identity. Also, he was old.). As it turns out, no–Seattle is just a hotbed for glass artists. This particular artist I had never met. Still, his works astounded me nonetheless.
The exhibit was enthralling for an afternoon. The fragile components were so carefully joined together and with extraordinary color arrangements. Each formation clearly took a great deal of time, love, and care to construct. Still, I have one complaint…. *gasp* I know I never have anything critical to say about glass blowers–likely because I want to add that to my repertoire of hobbies one day, when I have simply too much money to manage and must throw it at some studio or other for the lessons and the work bench. There’s certainly a limit to what one can do with glass in a garden, I grant that…. However, I felt that he found three or four comfortable formations and then just repeated them in different spots in the arboretum in different colors. That was why I lingered so long at both the boat area and the water fern formation, as they were unique and “fresh” in the context of the other exhibit pieces. With that said, I was still very impressed with the quantity of work and care each formation boasted.
Here is my anti-artsnob commentary: When I see massive, fragile art like this my very first reactions circle around thoughts of expense and transporting care. Guilty. I will never be a large scale artist because I have no vision beyond “the bother of it”.
As a side anecdote, I embarrassed myself at this event to boot. In typical fashion I stepped too casually, and my right leg made a splash into a postmodern subterranean pool. I felt like the king’s fool at the garden party as “oooh”s resounded through the exhibit, all eyes darted to me, and a tiny Asian man bent down to grab me out of the pool, hitting me with his Nikon as it swung around his neck. But I have one small victory: at least I didn’t break anything.