Monday, August 13, 2007

Pittsburgh Adventure, Day 2: Chihuly at Phipps

This day falls into the category of, "just when you think an experience can't possibly get any does!"

I would have voted to just drive straight home the second morning, since I was so excited and stimulated by visiting Fiber Arts International that all I could think about was getting back into my studio to work, but we all decided we'd just make the "briefest" stop at the Phipps Conservatory to see the gardens and glass exhibit there. Here is the entrance; already looks promising, doesn't it??? Supposedly there was a nice Chihuly glass exhibit inside -- I figured a few pieces in a few rooms and then, zip, we're on the road. SOOOOOO wrong....We wallked through room after glorious room, oohing and aahing. Each one grew from a collaboration between horticulturists and Chihuly to design unique installations that blended organic blown glass shapes and colors with natural plant materials. This is pretty much what we looked like every time we walked into a new room!
This room was filled with bright orange cannas in the background and Chihuly's brilliantly colored Cattails in the foreground.

Some spaces had water features as large as ponds, where Chihuly's blown glass forms provided contrast while complementing the natural environment.

The forms and colors of the glass varied with each space. Some of the forms were tall and frond like, some sphere shaped, and others open and fluted. I fell in love with the space below, the Victoria Room, where all the elements, including the reflections from the vaulted glass ceilings on the water, seemed more breathtakingly beautiful together than I ever could have imagined. Chihuly calls these fluted forms his Persians. They're the result of his search for new forms over the course of a year, during which his assistants crafted more than 1,000 miniature experimental forms.

You could look across this space and through a glass partition into yet another glass and plantscape in soft blues, a wonderful contrast to the warm colors in this space.

Above this beautiful display a huge chandelier style sculpture, one of Chihuly's trademarks,
seemed to float over the water and surrounding trees.

That blue glass that you could vaguely see beyond this incredible display proved to be an equally breathtaking site when we made our way into the space, called the East Room. The plant materials in this room were all silvery and cool in feeling. With Chihuly's blue floats, cobalt Reeds and turquoise Marlins, the collection is known as Cobalt Fiori or "blue flowers."

Here is a close up that shows some of the different color combinations and patterns that Chihuly creates by rolling molten glass in smaller shards of colored glass during the blowing process. The interiors and exteriors of these petal like forms are different colors. This is possible because they are separated by a layer of white opaque glass.

The bottom line is that we spent the whole morning in the Conservatory and only left because we were hungry! Barb took pictures until her memory card was completely full and I came home with over 150 shots of my own. By the time we started the drive home, we all felt our whirlwind adventure had far exceeded any of our expectations and look forward to another one in the future!

Here's the Phipps website:

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