The Chihuly Exhibit at the Denver Botanic Gardens

This was one of the most daunting posts I’ve ever written.  I had to pick through 144 photos trying to choose the ones that best displayed the genius of Dale Chihuly and the Denver Botanic Garden staff.  All of the art glass was astounding and moving; the DBG staff did an outstanding job of integrating the art into the gardens.   If you’re in Colorado before the end of November, this should be on your can’t-be-missed list.

Buckle up because I still ended up with 28 photos and Kathy had a number of lovely pictures of her own.  No problems telling who took what pictures–my day was gray and sprinkling and Kathy’s was sunny.

The Blue Icicle Towers smacked you in the face the minute you entered the gardens proper:

Blue Icicle TowersThere are three sets of “towers” here.  You can see the shorter one in the right lower part of the picture, and the middle-sized tower is peeking out from behind on the left side of the photo.  They were a big bold statement to get you in the mood for what was coming.

All around the Blue Icicles were the Perennial Fiori as they were collectively called:

Blue Icicle Towers into Perennial Fiori walkThis is looking toward the long walk of Perennial Fiori.  You can see that this is a fun and imaginative setting for art glass:

Perennial Fiori start  Perennial Fiori6

I was enchanted, and even heading that way, when I glimpsed a huge red and orange thing out of the corner of my eye:

Summer Sun  Summer Sun2

Summer Sun grabbed me and dragged me in totally different direction, almost against my will.  It is a tour-de-force of art glass.  Summer Sun reminded me of the Chihuly chandeliers at the Mayo Clinic, but even more organic, complicated, and mind-blowing.  We sat here for a while and soaked in the warmth of the summer sun on an overcast day.

There was a xeric garden adjacent to the bench across from Summer Sun.  I really liked the Euphorbia that was blooming:


I did take some other flower pictures too, but I must admit that the art took my mind off of flowers–no easy task.

We wandered around until we reached the Monet Pool portion of the gardens:

The exhibit in this area was collectively known as the Monet Pool Fiori, although several of the pieces had separate names.

Monet Pool Fiori2  Chihuly6

Here are side-by-side photos from both Kathy and me taken nearly from the same angle.  The reflections on the pool were stunning both days.

Here’s a closer look at the interesting glass feature at the base of the reeds:


The juxtaposition of the upright with the coiled and organic is magical.  Kathy’s superior photography skills shine in this picture.

The water lilies were spectacular in the pool as were the large lily pad leaves.  I took many pictures, but this was one of my favorites:

Water Lily

Behind a gazebo the Float Boat was tranquilly anchored on the other side of the Monet Pool:

Float Boat

I’m not sure that a boat full of multi-colored globes counts as peaceful, but that’s my impression.  It could be that the water lilies and overcast day contributed to the sense of stillness and calm.

It’s just another sign that we have waaay too much in common that Kathy and I took a lot of pictures of the same scenes.  This installation is called Red Reeds:

Red Reeds  Chihuly3

They set up the reeds on the Plains Gardens which was an interesting choice.  Lots of tall native grasses and wildflowers provide a pleasing contrast with six-foot plus spikes of red glass.

I really enjoyed all of the exhibitions, but the Monet Pool and the Japanese Garden scenes were my favorites:

Walla Wallas

It must be the water.  The glass seems to belong in the water, although the scene seems otherworldly.  These blue shapes are called Walla Wallas and they lead to the prosaically named Blue and Purple Boat:

Blue and Purple Boat and Walla Wallas  Chihuly1

I tried to get a picture of the koi swimming in the reflection of the boat, but it was too much for my photographic skills or camera.

Kathy had fun setting up a reflection picture of  her mom gang:


These globes were strewn in a dry stream and looked for all the world like crazy Christmas ornaments.

On our way over to another area ripe with Chihuly glass, we passed the Birds and Bees walk:

Birds and Bees walk

I’m not sure we’re old enough to see what goes on in this part of the garden!

We really liked this pebbled path that led us up to a Chinese gate:

Path leading to Chinese GateThe pattern almost looked like flowing water to me.  It was surprisingly comfortable to walk on.

Another sunny vs cloudy day contrasts how light affects the appearance of the White Tower:

Chihuly7   White Tower

It’s pretty obvious that the tower needs light to be spectacular, however, light or dark, this piece of glass made me think of Dr. Seuss.  Behind the right most picture is the Romantic Gardens.  It’s exactly what you might see in an English garden leading up to a fountain.  How fun that the White Tower is inserted into this proper and staid scene.

Perhaps the most dramatic of all the exhibits is the Saffron Tower and Cattails:

Saffron Tower and Cattails

I saw a picture of the yellow tower lit up in the dark, and I’m sure that’s how it should be seen.  However, the orange, red, and yellow globes and red cattails are gorgeous all on their own.  Beloved Husband has already agreed to return for a night visit to DBG to see how the glass looks illuminated.

I love this rose:

Roses near the Saffron Tower

I have a similar one at home.  Of course, I forgot to take a photo of its name, so I’m as much in the dark as ever as to the variety.  I know where it is at the gardens, so there is hope.

The Persian Tower comes with an infuriating story:

Persian Tower

I was talking to a lady in line for the toilet.  She told me that a man threw a rock at one of the “flowers” (left side of photo) and broke it.  When asked why, the idiot replied, “I wanted to see if it would break”.  This is why we can’t have nice things!  If you are that stupid, then stay home and wonder no more–yes it can be broken.  Sheesh.

Now we are entering the Perennial Fiori walk, back to the Blue Icicle Towers that started this trek:

Perennial Fiori

I took a ton of pictures through here; it was almost impossible to choose pictures since they all turned out okay.  I loved all the forms and colors; this would have been my favorite part when I was a kid.

Perennial Fiori2

They came in all shapes and sizes.  The DBG staff did a great job deciding what went where.

Perennial Fiori3   Perennial Fiori4

Several of these Fiori groups had a Seussian vibe.  Who says art can’t be fun?

Perennial Fiori5  Detail Perennial Fiori

Oh, how I loved all the details in the shapes.

After all the walking, gawking, slobbering, and saying, “This is my favorite.  No, this is my favorite.  NO …” for three hours straight (my poor husband!) we finally stopped for lunch.  Ikebana was there waiting for us:


A perfect finish to a wonderful day.  Gosh, if I lived in the Pacific NW, I would make touring Chihuly installations an annual event.

Thanks for letting me ramble on about an artist that I admire.  Dale Chihuly took what he learned in his studies and fellowship in Venice and has made glass into fine art.

Today is your last chance to enter the drawing for the teeny tiny vases (not Chihuly!):

Green vases

Leave a comment here or on Facebook before this evening, and you will be entered.  The winner will be notified by email if possible; otherwise we’ll put an announcement on Facebook and in next week’s post.

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20 Responses to The Chihuly Exhibit at the Denver Botanic Gardens

  1. OSS says:

    Wow! I NEED to get over there to see this exhibit! Your photos are beautiful and Kathy’s too! Thanks for sharing. Hugs! – Dawn

  2. Emjay says:

    What a treat! I loved getting to see the gardens through your photos! Thanks so much for sharing! Emjay

    • kathy & deb says:

      So glad you enjoyed the show. While walking through the gardens I just had this overwheming need to share what I was seeing–it was so beautiful.

  3. Barb Johnson says:

    LOVE Chihuly’s work! Each installation seems better than the last. I especially love seeing what he does with the token boats in each one… remembering that the very first boat was not a planned part of the exhibit. The tradition began in Finland… Chihuly placed his large colorful orbs in a stream, where the floated away with the moving water. Local kids gathered up the escaping orbs and put them into a row boat on the shore, inspiring Dale and his crew with that image of a glass cornucopia. ( I guess they also learned to anchor or tether their artworks in future installations. teehee)
    Would love to fly into Denver to see this exhibit, but doubt it’ll happen for me. I can just imagine the beautiful changes that occur when the snow comes. I’m relying on you two gals to cover the wintry portion of the exhibition and share it in your blog for my vicarious thrills!

    • kathy & deb says:

      Hi Barb, thanks for reading. I hadn’t heard the story about how the boat tradition started–thank you for sharing that! I’m for sure going to one of the night shows if I can get tickets. How wonderful would it be if it snowed at night? Not sure my photography skills are up to it, but it is free to try!

  4. tkarengold says:

    Wonderful photos. I’ve seen two Chihuly exhibits and was wowed both times. Their (his staff and him) work is amazing.

    • kathy & deb says:

      Thanks Terri–we are doubly honored that someone with your photographic skills liked the pictures. I love Chihuly too and try to see all the shows that come my way.

  5. Karen says:

    WoW! You’ve out done yourselves now! Such beautiful placements of all the art glass! I’ll have to get there asap!

    • kathy & deb says:

      Thanks Karen–yes you should go if it’s at all possible. Everyone was really enjoying the show with the possible exception of the moron who broke the glass!

  6. You ladies truly captured the beauty of Chihuly. What lovely pieces. I am looking forward to seeing the exhibition at DBG.

  7. jensine says:

    love the mad beauty of it all

  8. Ruth says:

    These are some of the coolest (is that a word??) display items I think I have ever seen!!! 🙂

    • kathy & deb says:

      Hi Ruth–yes coolest is a word because we think our readers are the coolest. 😉 Dale Chihuly makes some pretty cool art glass too!

  9. Diane Rhodes says:

    Thank you so much for showing us all these beautiful photos. Great photos, great shots and interesting commentary.

    • kathy & deb says:

      Thank you, Diane; we’re so glad you enjoyed the post. Chihuly’s artwork and the Denver Botanic Gardens is a win-win deal; there was so much beauty all around!

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