Always a fan of the earthiness of pottery, I wasn’t prepared to be blown away by glass. To whatever deep, soulful spaces pottery invites me, I found that blown glass invites me into the celestial.
I was in Tacoma when I discovered the work of Dale Chihuly. Very quickly, I realized I must have been living under a rock all these years. Everyone but me seems to have known him for a long time. I’m simply thrilled to have discovered him in the 11th hour.
If you are in Tacoma, a visit to the Tacoma Museum of Glass is such a treat. Tacoma is Dale Chihuly’s birthplace and its public spaces are accented with his marvelous pieces. From the bridge to the city courthouse, you’ll find his work displayed. That’s probably why there is this wonderful museum devoted to glass.
Before I even saw any of the exhibits, I meandered into their Hot Shop, a studio with gallery seating. There, several glass artists were working while a museum docent narrated. I could have stayed there all day watching molten glass take shape with fire and breath. What struck me as much as anything was the intensity with which the artists worked. They existed in a time and space unavailable to the rest of us — they were quite in their own world. We were outsiders, granted permission to peek in for a while.
Chihuly Glass and Garden Museum. I’m discovering that my favorite museums are those which draw you to outside spaces, where the art lives with nature. Such is the Chihuly museum. Inside, there was a quiet reverence as scores of people feasted on the other-worldliness of Chihuly’s sculptures.
Then, as magical as anything, you walk into an arboretum of sorts. I don’t know what else to call it. The building, made of glass, houses huge yellow and orange floral pieces that fan out across the ceiling and drip down the walls. This might have been my favorite exhibit (except for the boat full of glass balls which I longed to sail away on — see above). The light streaming through the glass was reminiscent of the grandest cathedrals I’ve ever seen.