I’ve been on a questing hiatus for the past few months but Chihuly in the Gardens at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens is an excellent way to return to my adventures. So without further ado:
Back in 2004, Atlanta Botanical Gardens was just a young garden when Dale Chihuly did an exhibit there. Attendance and membership skyrocketed mostly due to this coming out party of sorts. They went from 200,000 guests to 425,000. Since then the gardens have expanded and in 2010 they finished completing the Canopy Walk and nearly doubled the size of the park itself. For the past six years, people of Atlanta have been begging for an encore. We finally got what we wanted. April 30th marked the opening day of Chihuly in the Garden which will run until October 30th. You can choose to see Chihuly in the Day or Chihuly at Night. The park is extending its hours for the exhibit. For you photography geniuses out there, Chihuly at Night is completely brilliant. We were able to tour the gardens and take photos in the sunlight, sunset and moonlight. The best of all worlds in four hours. What a fine thing to see something in the daylight and be able to see it transformed in the moonlight.
“I want people to be overwhelmed with light and color in a way they have never experienced.” – Dale Chihuly
Walking down an unassuming path, you take a quick glance off to the left and there’s a Chihuly piece in the woods gleaming through the trees in an array of colours. A piece that hangs near the Canopy Walk is titled, “Chartreuse Hornet Polyvitro Chandelier” and shines brightly over a fairy land of tall purple glass resembling reeds. This is how you experience Chihuly.
In 1965 Chihuly was experimenting with glass and from there received a Master in Fine Arts in Sculpting, won a grant and the Fulbright Fellowship. He then traveled onto Venice where he worked at the Venini Factory. He taught for many years back in the states, co-founded the Pilchuck Glass School and founded many artist programs. While traveling in England, he was involved in a head-on car accident in which he went through the windshield. The accident left him blind in one eye. Hence the eye patch, should you be wondering. While it’s horrible that event took place, I would venture out to say the eye patch adds to the charm of Chihuly. I wanted to find an author who had a quote about eye patches, preferably Mark Twain or Oscar Wilde but alas, there are none. One could only hope they thought eye patches to be the height of sophistication. Chihuly hasn’t actually blown glass since he dislocated his shoulder some time ago. Being unable to hold the pipe, he assembled a team and it afforded him a chance to see things in a different perspective. Once the dancer, he is now the choreographer and as such can see the forest through the trees in a way he wasn’t able to before. He is the reason Seattle is second only to Venice, in the world of glassblowing.
It’s rare for an imaginative person to have an experience better than what they had imagined but, it happened. Most agreeably so, as occasionally in life one should have those rare times where everything is better than they imagined.
We went to Chihuly at Night, and arrived around 6:30pm. We were able to walk through the whole park, including the gardens and greenhouses before the sun went down enough that we could take a break. Linton’s is Atlanta Botanical Garden’s new restaurant, I have heard nothing but praise for the food and it was absolutely beautiful. It was also absolutely booked up, probably due to the three weddings that were going on. We were able to venture to the cafe part and get some food and then made our way to the rooftop. After some wine and small plates we made our way through the gardens again but this time they were magnificently lit up.
On the way home, I was exhausted but wide-eyed, completely overwhelmed by the lights and color I had never before experienced.