Chihuly at the NYBG

By John Breece

As the oppressive heat and the green canopy of summer lifts and gives way to the cooler air and vibrant colors of fall the Dale Chihuly installation of colorful blown glass sculptures at the New York Botanical Garden moves into its final stretch.

The Chihuly exhibit features intricate swirls, flowing tubes, brilliant spheres and neon-lit glass stretching 35 feet long. It was conceived by the Seattle-based artist and implemented by his team of glass blowers and installation experts. The installation will wrap up its stay in the Bronx on October 29.

As part of its send off, the New York Botanical Garden is presenting special evenings that combine Chihuly’s work with performances by local musicians.

Dale Chihuly has been making his signature blown glass art works for decades. He started his study of blown glass at the first program for the preservation and advancement of the art in the country at the University of Wisconsin. After a time at the Rhode Island School of Design, he went on to learn the old world practice of team glass blowing in Venice at the Venini Glass Factory.

Today Chihuly is famous for his site-specific installations of horns, spirals, tubes and long, graceful curves of brightly colored glass in such varied environments as art museums, public spaces such as Las Vegas casinos and public gardens.

The New York Botanical Garden was the site of one of his previous installations in 2006 and was so popular he teamed up with the garden to present the even larger exhibition currently on display.

Chihuly’s bursts of colorful glass are spread throughout the New York Botanical Garden’s 250 acres of gently rolling gardens, groves and open spaces. Within the Haupt Conservatory they are concentrated among the famously diverse flora of several different environments where they at times blend in seamlessly and at other times jump boldly into view.

One of the impressive vistas of art and garden include a work called Sol del Citron. This exceedingly complex piece is the culmination of fusing hundreds of yellow and pale green glass curlicues and horns into one magnificent 14-foot wide sphere at the Haupt Conservatory’s entrance where it is framed by the glass dome of the 115-year-old structure. Excellent description.

Another is Red Reeds on Logs which visitors come upon entering the gardens from the visitor center. Composed of approximately 150 slender wavy slips of brightly colored red glass emerging from a crisscrossing foundation of logs, the piece gives the impression of an eternal fire amid the surrounding beauty of the gardens.

Among the other Chihuly creations scattered around the gardens are large rectangular panels reflecting in the waters of the lily pond and Garden Fiori, which consists of dozens of slender glass blades mimicking the surrounding plants in the conservatory.

Among the musical acts performing in the coming weeks will be the Cumbia River Band from Columbia, ambient flutist “KAT” Modiano, the Latin soul band Fulaso and cellist Laura Bontrager.


Visitors can also view an illuminated version of the exhibit during “Chihuly Nights,” which run Thursday through Saturday evenings until the end of October.

Jessica Militello

Jessica Militello

Jessica Militello



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *