Chihuly at the Botanical Gardens

The other day Geralyn helped me celebrate my birthday by dropping Samantha off at the grandparents’ house and taking me to the local botanical gardens to engage in some relaxation and photography. That was cool enough, but to make things even better there was a traveling exhibit by some guy named Chihuly. Apparently this fellow specializes in glass sculptures –sometimes huge ones– that he incorporates into natural environments. The glass shapes he creates are very natural looking, with lots of curves and no hard angles. Here’s a couple of pictures to give you the idea:


(Note about pictures in this post: these are just thumbnails that are cropped down to 200×200 squares. Go ahead and click on them to see the full-sized, uncropped versions.)

It’s really amazing stuff, and I was constantly in a state of wonder over how graceful, beautiful, and weirdly organic looking the sculptures were.

In fact, most of the sculptures were incorporated into the terrain to such an extent that they appeared, in a very weird way, to be part of it. You could easily imagine that some of the sculptures were in fact plants. Plants made out of colored glass instead of, um… plant stuff. Here’s a couple of examples:


The thing is, that even though I took a LOT of pictures (somewhere north of a hundred and forty, I think), none of the wide angle shots of the sculptures mixed in with the greenery really resulted in interesting pictures. They were just kind of blah because they were too busy with no real focal point. It also didn’t help that the place was so crowded that any wide angle shot was guaranteed to include some gawking goofball in addition to the elegant sculptures and lush flora. So, sorry about that. What I did find that resulted in some of my favorite pictures, though, was zooming in to focus on specific parts of the sculpture. This allowed me to focus on one piece among a tangle of other like this…


…Or to isolate certain parts of the sculptures like this…


That last shot of the red bulb was form what seemed to be the most photographed spots in the whole exhibit: a reflecting pool full of these brightly colored, teardrop shaped bulbs. And it was popular for good reason. The bulbs floated around gracefully in the pool and cast spectacular reflections (the red one above is a shot of just the reflection from one). Like everyone, I got a lot of shots, including these two:



Of course, the colors here and everywhere else were perfectly picture worthy in their own right, and even though it was late in the year there were still a few flowers in bloom:


Not all of the exhibits were outdoors, though. Chihuly also made some spectacular smaller pieces, including many that were on display inside the buildings. In fact, the ones below gave me a chance to try out my new image stabilization lens (which I introduced here) in a low light situation. The results are actually my two personal most favoritist shots from the whole trip:


And finally, I love my little girl dearly, but the fact that we had left her behind with her grandparents made the outing SO much more enjoyable. I could take my time looking for cool stuff and different pictures instead of keeping one eye on her (toddler + million dollar glass chandelier = nervous Jamie). It also meant that I wasn’t thinking of taking pictures of her, which let me think about taking them of Geralyn. I shared my favorite shot of her in this week’s Photo of the Week, but I also got these to nice shots of her, which I really like:


So, that’s the outing in a nutshell and a few pictures. I highly recommend getting out to see these exhibits if they come to your town; they’re just amazing. I have lots more pictures, but I have to hold something back for future Photo of the Week material, right? Hope you at least enjoyed these.

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10 thoughts on “Chihuly at the Botanical Gardens

  1. Wow! Those are terrific photos. You know, your favorite one blown up to say 5 x7 in a black frame would make a great gift for someone sometime. Hint hint hint. 🙂

  2. Shawn: Thanks! Which one areyou talking about, just to be clear?
    jjohnsen: Yeah, shot in raw, then corrected for white balance and exposure (if needed) in Capture One, then saved as high quality .jpg files and further tweaked in Photoshop. Some of them I also added filters and subtle special effects in Photoshop, like the tulip bulb-shaped globes in the water that have a slight glow to them.

  3. The family business is glass art supplies. It’s generally torch work, and not on the same scale as Chihuly. Nonetheless, I’ve been lucky enough to have seen his work before.
    It’s really amazing art, but what’s more amazing is how it is made – and the fact that he only has one eye. Kind of adds a van Gogh edge to him, without the mental illness creepiness.
    Once you recognize Chihuly’s work, you’ll be amazed at just how often you’ll spot it “in the wild”. My wife and I had our honeymoon on the Disney Magic (cruise line), which has a multi-story Chihuly piece hanging in the main lobby. For what it’s worth, I’d highly recommend a Disney Cruise with Samantha when she gets to “that age”. Believe it or not, it’s great for the parents too!

  4. Chihuly is by far my favorite artist – great photos – if you ever to get to visit WA state there is a museum (Museum of Glass) in Tacoma that features his stuff (and he sometimes works in the glass studio there.) The Belagio in Vegas has an enormous Chihuly display too (if you ever get out that way.)

  5. Kevin: Yeah, when I saw a photo of him at the gardens I exclaimed “Holy cow, this guy’s a pirate, too?” The museum workers were not amused.
    xoe: I’ve been to the Belagio a few times, but unfortunately never noticed the display. Is it new? There’s just so much competing for you attention in Vegas, I guess even something like that can get overlooked.

  6. Fan-bloody-tastic pics! For someone who’s not a huge techie, can I copy my favorites from your blog and get prints made?

  7. The ceiling (of course, how obvious right??) of the lobby has 2,000 hand-blown glass flowers – the Fiori di Como – and they have a Chihuly Gallery. I’m not sure how long the gallery has been there, but the lobby was done quite awhile ago.

  8. I am heading to your midwest location for Thanksgiving and just discovered the Chihuly exhibit at the Botanical Gardens! (I am DEFINITELY going!) During the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Games we had an enormous Chihuly display and the city actually purchased several pieces from the artist. They are eternally fascinating to me – it’s like they are alive or something, constantly changing with the light. Sigh… love them!

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