What the heck is a Chihuly? The name sounds like an Australian animal that is cross between Chihuahua and Chinchilla. But no, it’s not an animal, but rather the name of an artist. An artist, who may at first seem a bit crazy with his exhibits of glass artwork.

For instance, would you ever consider forcing a delicate 10 foot reed of hand blown glass into a desert landscape of cacti, rocks and hard sand?

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Spears of hand blown glass inserted into the desert floor

How about displaying a sphere made of hundreds of hand blown glass spears outside in the desert elements?

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Or layering thousands of red and yellow hand blown tubes in a cactus formation that towers over 25 feet high? Or entangling hundreds of delicate curly arms to create pink polka dotted cactus tower?

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Well this is exactly what Dale Chihuly, world renown glass artist, has done with his artwork in the Desert Botanical Gardens of Phoenix. The juxtaposition of the delicate, translucent, shimmering, hand blown glass elements along side the thorny cacti in the rugged desert setting, is a contrast that only serves to emphasize the beauty of the glass.

Dale Chihuly, with his team, has integrated beautiful works of art with the natural surroundings. In a way that can only be experienced in person, the glass complements and enhances the rugged landscape.  It is clear that this exhibit is specifically designed for the Desert Botanical Gardens.

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A party boat of assorted glass, set adrift among the reeds

During the day, the glass shimmers. Translucent pieces distort the landscape around them. Since the suns rays travel in and through many of the pieces and reflect off others, photographing these pieces during the day actually works. Just walking around a piece, provides different angles of sunlight through the glass and enables the capture of unique angles of color, shape and shadow.

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One of two glass chandelier like installations that are positioned in partnership over the trail.

At night, the pieces are lit, glowing in the night sky. Although a very poor illustration, you can view the light changing on a couple pieces of the glass via a weather webcam at the gardens (be sure to initiate the animation and watch the glass light up at night).

chihuly-11 The exhibit is extremely popular. Although the light through the glass makes daytime photos a delight, the challenge is working in and amongst the throngs of people trying to see the glass and, of course, get their keepsake snapshots.

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There are over twenty glass exhibits throughout the garden. From spears, to reeds, flori, herons, a sun, a sapphire ball, a boat and several towers, the glass takes on all shapes, and colors.

The exhibit is running through May 18th.

Now that you know what a Chihuly is, perhaps, you like to try shooting a Chihuly too!

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For additional information on Dale Chihuly and current exhibits, see the Daly Chihuly website.