This is the second in the series of “serendipitous moments” blogs.
The first was about a very special walk to a frozen waterfall over twenty years ago. I hope you had a chance to read about that wonderful family memory story. Now I would love to share with you a special moment that happened just a few months ago when I was visiting my parents in Phoenix, Arizona.
The purpose of my trip down south, in addition to just visiting, was to spend time with Mom revising and refining our itinerary for our upcoming multi-generational trip to Europe. Part of this process would be to sit down at the computer and begin to select and make reservations for our lodging along the way. With over two weeks of travel time and multiple locations stretched across Germany and Austria on our agenda, this took quite a bit of time and research in order to have just the right combination of price, room configuration, location and cultural style. I will write more about this process later in case you are planning this type of trip and want some tips and pointers on how this type of planning works.
During one of our little breaks, I noticed an ad on the television about a unique traveling exhibit featuring glass sculptures from Dale Chihuly that was currently on display at the Desert Botanical Gardens just outside of Phoenix. I asked the folks if they had ever been there and if they wanted to take a break while I was visiting and check it out. We decided that if we got all the rooms / lodgings booked by the next morning that we would take time and go. It was a challenge that my mom and I took to heart as we worked well into the night to finish up the selection of rooms and make all the reservations.
The next day dawned typical for Phoenix in the winter months….beautiful. The sky was a deep clear blue without a cloud in sight. It was warm with just a hint of chill in the air. My Dad did some research on what route we would have to take to get there. We loaded up some water bottles, camera, sun screen, walking shoes and we were off. After a short drive and quick route revision from the map on my smart phone, we were finally there.
We parked, showed our pre-paid on-line tickets and entered the gardens where we were given a guide map to show us where the glass sculptures were located along the paths. We were also greeted by several wonderful volunteers that assisted us in selecting a focus and direction that would be the easiest for my elderly parents to walk. Working in the museum world like I do, I truly appreciate a great volunteer experience and I have to say that I was very impressed from the very “get-go”. With map in hand and our instructions from our well-informed volunteer greeter we began our journey.
While I had instigated this little adventure, I really wasn’t sure what we were about to see and experience. I do recognize that beautiful plants and flowers thrive even in the stark desert environment of Phoenix, but I was not prepared for the gorgeous and well-designed paths and interesting displays of flora and fauna…and I was stunned by the beauty of the Chihuly glass sculptures that were interwoven throughout the garden.
For those of you that are not familiar with this artist, here is a little description from the Desert Botanical Gardens website.
“Chihuly is credited with revolutionizing the Studio Glass movement and elevating the perception of the glass medium from craft to fine art. He is renowned for his ambitious architectural installations around the world, in historic cities, museums and gardens. Chihuly’s work is included in more than 200 museum collections worldwide including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Corning Museum of Glass. Major exhibitions include Chihuly Over Venice (1995-96), Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem (1999), Garden Cycle (2001– present),and displays at the de Young Museum in San Francisco (2008), the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (2011) and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond (2012). Chihuly Garden and Glass opened at Seattle Center in 2012. Chihuly Garden and Glass opened at Seattle Center in 2012.”
I have always loved colored glass and even have a few very nice pieces of glass art in my home, but I had never seen anything that rivals the color, depth, design and scale as the Dale Chihuly pieces. What intrigued and engaged me with the sculptures was the way in which they were inserted into the existing plant displays. In many cases, it was almost as if they became the flowers on the plants, bringing an even greater awareness of the variety of sizes, colors and textures of the plants themselves. Instead of a stand-alone type exhibit, it was an opportunity for sunlight, shadows and light to play off the glass and through the glass at the same time as it merged with the styles and design of the garden itself. Around every corner was something new to see and we found ourselves on a journey of delight from one end of the garden to the other. It was a serendipitous moment and I was in love!
Halfway through we stopped in at the museum garden store and picked out a few books and note-cards to take as souvenirs. There were a few pieces of Chihuly glass art on sale, but as beautiful as they were, I had to honor an agreement that I have with my husband that I don’t purchase any large art pieces – no matter what the price – for our home unless we are both there to agree. We took a little break from the walking and the sun to have some strawberry lemonade in the small garden café which was a pleasant and welcome addition to our day.
As the day wore on, so did my parents energy level, so we took one last moment to sit on a garden bench and gaze at the large balloon shaped glass art piece that was suspended from the gazebo ceiling…and then our day was done. But what I took away from this beautiful experience was the memory of an extraordinary day with my parents, some stunning photographs and a new found appreciation for glass art and the beauty of a desert garden. Given the opportunity to see a Dale Chihuly exhibit again, I would go out of my way to make it happen…and the Desert Botanical Gardens will now become someplace that I hope to visit often when I travel to Phoenix. It was a Serendipitous Moment at the Desert Botanical Gardens. For tips on how to make your trip to Phoenix, Arizona memorable, READ MORE
For more information on Dale Chihuly, visit the Dale Chihuly website or enjoy this short video Dale Chihuly Interview
Yes. I would love to see the garden exhibit in Phoenix of the Chilhuly glass. I have been to Tacoma, WASH. a few times where he’s from and where there’s a huge glass studio at work that the public can watch for a fee to the whole exhilbit inside. I stayed with the outside exhibits (for free) which are very enjoyable. There is an overpass of the busy freeway in the same area and they have put glass enclosed shelves with art pieces of his in those……so! TACOMA is much closer than ARIZONA. I wonder if Dale hasn’t been spreading his art all over Tacoma. I must return. Oh and there’s an old train station right next to his studio that has a group of large hanging pieces inside. ART in America!
Connie Nice says
Thanks for the comment Gail. It was a beautiful exhibit. I have not been to the one in Tacoma but I will most certainly add that to my list of places to go and things to do this year.