Arts and Culture

The Denver Botanic Gardens Lands a Dale Chihuly Sculpture for its Permanent Collection

To call Chihuly, which closes November 30 after several months at the Denver Botanic Gardens, a success, would be something of an understatement. Made up of Dale Chihuly's monumental glass sculptures nestled into the picturesque landscaping of the grounds, the show has nearly doubled last year's attendance numbers at the DBG, with well over a million people having visited so far in 2014.

And now, the cherry on top for Chihuly-mania: a monumental sculpture call "Icicle Tower -- 'Colorado'" will be gifted to the DBG next month and become part of the permanent collection. This piece is not part of the current show and is not yet installed at the Gardens, but is being specially made for the site and will be erected in December.

See also: Connect the Blobs in Drips, Drops, Pours and Spins at Michael Warren Contemporary

To create the piece, the Seattle-based artist employed more than 700 blown-glass spikes that will be attached to a pole. The piece will reference a radiating plant, like a yucca, in its overall form. The spikes, which will radiate out from the pole, will be gathered at the middle with the shorter ones pointing down on the lower part of the piece and the longer ones pointing up, above.

The sculpture will rise to a height of more than eleven fee and will be installed in the center of the circular pond anchoring the Ellipse Garden that's directly adjacent to the historic Waring House at the southeast corner of the Gardens.

In this spot, it will appear as though it is floating above the water. The spikes will be red, orange and yellow, and Chihuly says that he selected those colors because of how impressed he was by Colorado's famous sunsets; he observed them during the many trips he's made here over the last year in order to oversee his show at the DBG.

The gift is being made possible through funds provided by donors Robert and Judi Newman and by the Kemper family. The price of "Icicle Tower" has not been revealed but it's surely the better part of a $1 million.

The obvious concerns about having a glass sculpture situated out-of-doors in Colorado's unpredictable climate, notably our constant cycle of freeze-thaw during the winter, and our hail storms during the summer, have been addressed by Chihuly's studio team. They have considerable experience with outdoor works, and so they are employing specially reinforced glass that's been tested in the field, to make the spikes.

Over the last decade or so, Colorado has become something of a center for Chihuly's art -- even without the one that is coming to the DBG. That piece, when it gets here, will join the monumental chandelier at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, the even more monumental wall installation, "Colorado Wild Flowers," in the lobby of downtown's UMB bank, and the fifty pieces, including several chandeliers, that surveys the artist's entire career in the permanent collection of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.

Not to mention that Cherry Creek's Pismo Gallery has represented and exhibited Chihuly's pieces for decades and has placed many pieces in various private collections.