“Normally, they withstand it, but recently they didn't,” he said wryly. “We've never shown a piece in a hailstorm (before), and we had a small amount of damage in Dallas where I have a show that's up at the arboretum right now. I guess it was a pretty bad hailstorm, and it took a little toll on us.”
Emphasis on “little.” Wendy Rentz, public relations manager of the Dallas Arborteum, watched baseball-size hail rain down June 13, but only six of about 30 pieces in a single Chihuly sculpture, “Persian Pond,” were broken. Within 48 hours, staffers had swapped out the damaged pieces with replacements provided for just such an occasion.
“There's thousands of pieces of glass here. For only six to have gotten broken ... we were very surprised,” Rentz said. “The studio told us this glass is sturdy, it's durable, and they were right. Dale knows the glass better than anybody. He is the glass master.”
Chihuly's Dallas exhibit drew more than 100,000 visitors to the arboretum in May, and in Oklahoma City, his work continues to be the centerpiece of the museum of art. Since his wife, Leslie Jackson Chihuly, hails from Oklahoma, the artist has developed a special affection for the Sooner State.
The museum last year cleaned, redesigned and reinstalled its extensive Chihuly glass collection in honor of this year's anniversary. Since New Year's Eve, thousands have toured “Illuminations: Rediscovering the Art of Dale Chihuly.”
Visitors might be surprised that the same glass installations look so different in the redesigned exhibit.
“Once we make it, if we take it down and take it somewhere else, it changes. It never goes together the same way twice,” Chihuly said.
For Chihuly, the biggest concern isn't preventing breakage or even placing the individual pieces into the most eye-catching sculptures.
“The hardest part is having a good idea.”