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Chihuly at Cheekwood: A glass garden in Nashville

Posted Jun 08 2010 9:56am

Chihuly at Cheekwood

I was recently in Nashville, landing a great hotel rate because of the unfortunate flooding incident. When I wasn’t listening to radio ads for floor tiles sales and construction bargains, I visited the Chihuly glass exhibit at the Cheekwood Gardens . If you have a chance to go, I’d highly recommend it.

Dale Chihuly is a renowned American glass artist, who has a permanent exhibit here in Indianapolis at the Children’s Museum, which is the only reason I knew how to pronounce his name. The Cheekwood exhibit is part of a bigger Chihuly in Nashville celebration where his work is also displayed at the Frist Center downtown. Cheekwood is a 55-acre botanical garden and art museum which would have been pretty enough all on its own. When I visited, the glass sculptures had been installed all over the estate. Chihuly’s work is strongly influenced by nature, so you could almost believe Nashville happened to have glass flowers and plants flourishing in its soil.

I stopped to sit in a theater halfway through my visit to watch part of Chihuly in the Hotshop , a film that documented a week-long glass-blowing workshop. It turns out Dale Chihuly injured an eye in a car accident many years ago, so he constantly wears an eye patch, just like a pirate! I thought is was kind of badass. Also interesting is that Chihuly no longer crafts the sculptures that bear his name. He acts like a director, instructing the glassblowers on what to make. I guess he’s like the James Patterson of glassblowing. (James Patterson no longer writes all his books. Instead, he creates detailed outlines and employs ghostwriters to do the actual writing.)

One thing that puzzles me—how do they MOVE these things? I’m stressing out just thinking about moving a few dozen boxes of crap. I have no idea how they transport a 30-foot tall glass sculpture across states, or hang a huge chandelier without breaking it on a banister. Maybe they fill the shipping containers with lots of feathers? Or Styrofoam peanuts?

The exhibit will be running until October 31, 2010. Admission is $15 for adults. More information can be found here . A Flickr slideshow of my walk through the grounds is embedded below.

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