DALLAS — It’s no surprise that Dale Chihuly has an affinity for glass art; after all, he is arguably the world’s most famous artist working in the field.
But he also harbors a special affection for glass greenhouses where plants are grown and displayed, which inspired his ongoing series of garden exhibitions, including a new glass show at the Dallas Arboretum.
“I’m a great lover of conservatories, glass houses,” Chihuly said during a press preview last week at the arboretum. “My first garden show was actually not out in a garden but in a glass house. I just loved working with the nature, and it brings a lot of people that normally don’t go to an arboretum or a glass house ... because they’re interested in art.”
Since his wife, Leslie, hails from Oklahoma City, Chihuly, 70, also has a close connection with the Sooner State, where the Oklahoma City Museum of Art houses one of the most comprehensive collections of his glass art in the world.
On Wednesday and Thursday, the museum will host an overnight travel tour to Texas to view Chihuly’s Dallas Arboretum exhibit as well as the “The Age of Impressionism: Great French Paintings from the Clark” at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth.
“It’s a great connection with our Chihuly collection,” said Chandra Boyd, the Oklahoma City Museum of Art’s education curator, who will serve as hostess on the tour. “The timing really could not be better because we kicked off our 10th anniversary by reopening our Chihuly collection and we’ve got our ‘Fusion’ exhibition coming up, which is really tied into the museum’s glass collection.”
The Oklahoma City museum’s “Fusion (A New Century of Glass),” an exhibit of 47 21st-century glass sculptures and installations, will be on view June 14-Sept. 9, and overlap with the Dallas Arboretum’s Chihuly show, which opened last weekend and continues through Nov. 5.
During the exhibit’s run, the arboretum’s 66 acres of beautifully manicured gardens, towering trees and serene water features will be accented by Chihuly’s dramatic sculptures, from large colorful orbs and crystal-clear flowerlike forms to jutting spears in an eye-popping array of hues and the spiky, sparkling blue sphere called “The Dallas Star.” Fifteen locations throughout the grounds boast Chihuly sculptures as part the exhibit.
“We tried to look at the arboretum, look at the garden, find places that we really like the looks of and then make glass or use glass that I already have — it’s a combination of both — and it’s just an ideal way for me to work,” Chihuly said.
For Oklahoma City Museum of Art patrons, installations such as the “Reeds” and “Float Boat” will look familiar since similar pieces are part of the local collection. But other sculptures, including the “Mirrored Hornets” and “Blue Marlins,” have no such counterparts in the Oklahoma City’s Chihuly exhibit.
“We were really lured by the ‘Chihuly Nights,’” Boyd said. “They’re opening the gardens at night and the sculptures are specially lit. So it’s going to be really neat to be to go and see the sculptures in that nighttime setting. Plus, I think it will be a lot cooler: Cooler fun and cooler weather.”
For the museum’s tour, a luxury motor coach will leave Wednesday and arrive in Dallas in plenty of time for dinner at the arboretum’s restaurant inside the historic DeGolyer Mansion and the “Chihuly Nights” tour of the grounds.
The tour includes overnight accommodations at the Marriott Quorum in Dallas, with a courtesy shuttle to the Galleria and a breakfast buffet. On Thursday, the coach will take patrons to Fort Worth and the Kimbell, the sole American venue for this first-ever international touring exhibition of the renowned Impressionist collection of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Mass.
Refreshments, wine and a light supper will be served on the coach on the way back to Oklahoma City. The all-inclusive trip also includes museum and arboretum admission.
“What makes our trips really unique and special is that we do send a member of our curatorial team — this time it’s going to be me — and we give a lecture on ... the coach and it’s very informative and educational,” Boyd said.
“But what I love about our trips is the amenities. We provide all the snacks, we provide the refreshments, on the way back we always do wine. We really try to make sure everyone is completely pampered on these trips.”
The price per person for the tour is $349 double occupancy or $449 single occupancy. Limited space remains, and the deadline to book is Monday.
To make reservations, contact Brenda Kelly at Journey House Travel at 463-5811 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the Dallas Arboretum’s Chihuly exhibit, go to www.dallasarboretum.org.