The Atlanta Botanical Gardens celebrates its 40th anniversary this year with an encore exhibition of the works of internationally acclaimed artist, Dale Chihuly. The American artist has mastered the “alluring, translucent and transparent qualities of ice, water, glass and neon to create works of art that transform the viewer experience. He is globally renowned for his ambitious site-specific architectural installations in public spaces and in exhibitions presented in more than 250 museums and gardens worldwide.” Since his blockbuster show here in 2004, the gardens have doubled in size.
Chihuly in the Garden includes 19 installation sites all set among the Garden’s natural beauty. The artist worked with the Garden’s horticultural team to choose plant color schemes. His studio shipped six 53 foot containers delivering thousands of pieces to be assembled on site by his team of eleven over a two week period.“You have to imagine the engineering it takes to bring this in and install it without damage,” said Britt Cornett, Chihuly’s installation manager.Chihuly’s team manages to transport new installations with an “unbelievably low breakage rate,” she said.
Some of the exhibits are a mix of older works paired with entirely new designs. There are also installations created specifically for the Atlanta Botanical Garden exhibit, including Fern Dell Paintbrushes near the Southern Season Garden and Indigo Blue Icicle Tower near the Hardin Visitor Center.
“I think there’s a quality to Dale’s exhibitions that you don’t see in a lot of art,” ABG CEO and President Mary Pat Matheson said, attempting to explain the public’s attraction to it. “It’s almost magnetizing. It’s charismatic. It’s spectacularly beautiful, particularly in an outdoor setting. He understands scale and color and the juxtaposition of glass and nature in a way that few artists do.”
The exhibit opened on April 30th and runs through Oct. 30th. Chihuly’s first exhibit at the Atlanta Botanical Garden in 2004 was the third time he’d done a garden installation. The 2004 exhibit was estimated by the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau to have had a $50 million to $60 million economic impact.
The kaleidoscopic colors of the art for which the artist has become so famous may also be experienced in a different light – at night when the Garden offers extended hours. One of the more stunning works this year is Saffron Tower, a 30-foot neon glass sculpture near the garden’s water mirror. Twenty-eight transformers power the neon sculpture.
There is even an installation at the Children’s Garden, which reopens later this summer.
Thanks to my trusty sidekick William who endured the heat and made me giggle throughout the day. Click HERE to get tickets to this spectacular exhibition which is on view through October 30, 2016.