All That Glass – Chihuly Glass, That Is

OKCMA - Entrance Chandilier Circling the block in search of a parking space we’re already in awe of the Oklahoma City Museum of Art’s Chihuly Glass collection. A 55-foot tall glass tower comprised of 2100 separate hand blown glass pieces dominates the atrium entrance. The Kirkpatrick Memorial Tower stands three stories tall on a black granite reflecting pool. This remarkable piece is only the beginning of one of the most comprehensive collections of Dale Chihuly glass in the world.OKCMA  - Entrance Chandilier Closeup

Whether trying to take in the entire tower or studying the multitude of individual pieces twisting and turning in one small segment we’re struck by the artistry and complexity of the structure. As Chihuly admirers we’ve seen many installations of his works in various settings around the country, this is truly an outstanding (and upstanding) original.

Before researching this trip we didn’t know that the Oklahoma City Museum of Art had such a large collection of Chihuly glass – Seaform Bowls - B one of their permanent exhibits. The first time I saw a Chihuly exhibition (in West Palm Beach) I fell in love with the Seaforms; they’re the first pieces I see at the OCMA. More subtle in color than many of the works, the form and fluid patterns in the Seaform pieces stand out – especially in the dark display cases. I can imagine these creations floating in the depths of the sea.

Chihuly is an artist always moving into new arenas, challenging the limits and gaining inspiration from a broad spectrum. The museum showcases works throughout his career and from many of his series – Ikebana, Chihuly - Macchia Forest and Reflections-n Putti, baskets, spears and Jerusalem Cylinders. The Macchia Forest pieces deserve close attention. Macchia is Italian for spotted. Not only are these giant freeform bowls spotted with intense color, the exterior and interior colors are different. A layer of white opaque glass separates the two sides. As light shines through the pieces the wall shadows fascinate as much as the glass. When I think of the beginning glob of molten glass and see the final size and complexity of construction I can’t help but wonder, “How do they do that?”

We stop to watch a continuously running video compiled from a number of filmings of the Chihuly crew in action. Watching the teamwork required gives new appreciation. It’s also fascinating to see the variety of installations he’s done around the world and how he ties them into the environment and culture.

Chihuly - Ceiling and Hall-n

Ceilings are a favorite Chihuly display technique; many admirers have stood in awe of the Bellagio ceiling in Las Vegas. It’s so large and with so many pieces I find it almost impossible to take in. At OCMA the ceiling combines hundreds of pieces from the Persian and Seaform series. I absolutely couldn’t resist the urge to lay down on the floor to look straight up into the layers of color and shapes. I could study this for hours. As one moves under the ceiling the lighting and shading makes each view unique. Again, the wall shadows and reflections are worthy of notice.

For more ceiling photos click below.

The Chihuly Waterford Crystal Chandelier in the lobby of the Museum’s Noble Theater shouldn’t be missed. In 1996 Dale Chihuly spent time at the Waterford Crystal factory in Ireland. Working with the glassblowers and Chihuly - Waterford Chandelier-n etchers there they created two crystal chandeliers. One was hung over a canal as part of the Chihuly Over Venice installation. The other came to Oklahoma City for the Museum of Arts Dale Chihuly: The Inaugural Exhibition and later was purchased by the Museum. His chandeliers have never been among my favorites, some strike me as too over the top. However, the over 200 lead crystal pieces come together in an exquisite work of creative art.

The Oklahoma City Museum of Art and all that glass proved to be an outstanding highlight of our Oklahoma art tour.

When You Go: The Oklahoma City Museum of Art is open daily except Mondays and major holidays.

Chihuly - Boat with Orbs-n

Enjoy additional Chihuly Glass at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art

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