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Anyone familiar with the delicate yet explosive artistry that comes out of Dale Chihuly’s internationally known glass studio in Washington state will immediately get what might happen when a large-scale collection of Chihuly glass takes over the Denver Botanic Gardens for the summer. But if that’s mind-boggling to think about, imagine the installation process. “It takes a small village to put these together,” says DBG exhibit coordinator Lisa Eldred of Chihuly, which opens today for a run into the fall.
The artwork itself, with all the attendant infrastructure, arrived boxed up on seven full semis, along with a Chihuly team that led a whole raft of volunteers, staff members and local art-handling professionals in the reconstruction of the pieces from scratch in specific settings within the gardens. “One prominent work, called ‘Summer Sun,’ is made up of nearly 2,000 pieces of glass,” Eldred adds.
And the sheer variety of Chihuly shapes and colors installed in garden and pond settings is nothing less than jaw-dropping, she promises, noting that the works range from a thirty-foot neon saffron tower to shapes designed just to play on water. “The Japanese garden is so green and perfect already, but to have the vibrant blues and purples of a boat floating on the pond? It’s stunning! With these forms and colors, the dark water rounds out the composition.” And how will the monumental curlicued glass sculptures hold up under Denver’s early-summer hailstorms? “The glass is actually very durable,” Eldred notes. “It’s meant to be outside.” Down to every last detail, it seems, Chihuly runs a very tight ship.
See Chihuly daily at the DBG, 1007 York Street, through November; a variety of related events include the Thursday Unwind happy-hour series, weekend exhibit tours, classes and film screenings. General admission is $9 to $15 (members are admitted free); visit botanicgardens.org for details.