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Friday, June 13, 2008

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When Maestro Chihuly asked reporters at the press opening to name only one best room in his exhibit, that was not a fair question. In a gallery of 11 rooms, filled with dreamlike visions of surreal flowers, spheres, and sea life made of glass, one’s level of excitement and admiration grows with each new display, culminating somewhere in the middle. Be it a black room, populated by neon-lit zoomorphic plants, a wall garden of giant blooms, bursting with sunny colors all around you, or a boatful of crawling vegetation and shiny beach balls, you are still up to even more amazing discoveries under Chihuly’s famous glass artifact-filled ceiling, or in front of his delicate translucent baskets, decorated with intricate patterns, inspired by the Pacific North West. The artist likes to refer to our centuries-old fascination with glass to justify his enormous success around the globe—Chihuly is the best known and recognized American artist abroad—but the truth is, his uniquely bold approach to the material revolutionized the world’s perception of what can and should be done to utilize it’s full potential. The imposingly phallic Saffron Tower, neon-infused in the dark—created in 2006, greets the de Young visitors by the entrance to the museum, and a treasure cove of giant glass toys shining with myriads of shades and unbelievable color combinations is found in the lower level gallery—ready to inspire, impress, and elevate the spirit. Chihuly at the de Young—his largest show ever—opens tomorrow with a Target Free Opening Weekend on June 14 (9:30-4:30) and June 15 (10-4) at 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, Golden Gate Park, SF. 415-750-3600, Photo by Yuri Krasov.


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