Chihuly glass exhibit at the Dallas Arboretum

The Dallas Arboretum is abloom through November 5 with renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly’s colorful, nature-inspired glass sculptures. My family and I visited yesterday, on opening weekend, and were wowed both by the beauty of the pieces and their careful placement in the gardens, sometimes as dramatic focal points, other times as naturalistic accents. This is ‘Blue Icicles,’ one of the first pieces you see as you enter the Arboretum.

I photographed nearly all of the sculptures, so here’s a photo tour to inspire your own visit. And remember, Austinites, if you’re a member of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the Arboretum offers reciprocal membership, so you’ll only have to pay for parking.

‘Blue Marlins’—these should be called Blue Egrets, don’t you think? They stand gracefully in a peaceful, Asian-style pond-and-stream garden…

…along with ‘Turquoise Reeds.’ Clouds of mist emit from beneath the lush ferns periodically, contributing to a sense of moody mystery.

At the other end of the spectrum, color-wise and mood-wise, is ‘Citron Green and Red Tower,’ a curlicued volcano of glass.

A closeup of ‘Citron Green and Red Tower.’ Each of the sculptures, we learned, is taken apart for shipping and reassembled on-site. So really this is just a big bottle tree. Ha!

‘Dallas Star’ was created especially for the Arboretum, we were told.

‘Scarlet and Yellow Asymmetrical Towers’ stand on either side of the entrance to the Woman’s Garden. Just inside, ‘Neodymium Reeds’ glow violet in a shallow reflecting pool, with the spiraling, green horns of ‘Mirrored Hornets’ in front.

‘Neodymium Reeds.’ I don’t know what the green piece in front is called.

But here’s a closeup.

‘Mirrored Hornets’

Detail of ‘Mirrored Hornets’

One of the most festive displays is ‘Carnival Boat’ and ‘Float Boat,’ anchored in a negative-edge pool overlooking White Rock Lake in the Woman’s Garden.

‘Carnival Boat’ and floats—the sheer exuberance of a boat full of party balloons

Another look at ‘Carnival Boat’

And another view

‘Float Boat’—a refugee ship for gazing balls?

A closeup of ‘Float Boat’

A detailed view of the floats reveals a mirrored world.

Standing tall over a sunken courtyard is ‘Aqua Blue and Amber Chandelier,’ a pastel confection.

A closeup shows horns and more spiraling party balloons.

‘Blue and Pink Marlins’ dance in front of a waterfall.

I love these ‘Blue Fiddleheads’ in combination with the moody foliage of elephant ears.

Do you love red? There are ‘Ruby Fiddleheads’ too.

‘Fiori Sun’ writhes in a garden bed.

‘Blue Bulbous Reeds’

‘Blue Polyvitro Crystals,’ like giant chunks of slag glass or boulders from another planet, accent a hillside stream.

After all that bright color, the white lotus leaves of ‘Persian Pond’ offer a quiet respite in a lily pond.

‘Persian Pond’ closeup

‘Tiger Lilies’ remind me of hooded cobras.

‘The Sun’—another stunning focal point

Closeup of ‘The Sun’

And a little closer

‘Red Reeds’

‘Silvered Red Bamboo and Cattails’

Here’s ‘Silvered Red Bamboo and Cattails’ in the background, framed by swaths of ‘Senorita Rosalita’ cleome, purple salvia, and a large purple grass, possibly Pennisetum ‘Vertigo’ (thanks for the ID, Scott).

Like pale, tapered candles, ‘Yellow Reeds’ offer a quieter vision.

There’s nothing quiet about ‘Yellow Icicle Tower,’ a three-story, bristly spike of yellow.

‘Yellow Icicle Tower’ with ‘Silvered Red Bamboo and Cattails’

From another viewpoint, it echoes the shape of a yucca.

And from here it contrasts with the quiet beauty of a stone lantern.

‘Mexican Hat and Horn Tower’ is alive with color and movement.

I hope you enjoyed the tour. The Chihuly exhibit is joyous, fun, and truly amazing. I’d love to see it lit up at night as well, but that requires a reservation-only visit on certain nights. If I didn’t live 3-1/2 hours away, I would definitely return for Chihuly Nights. Or maybe one of you will go and post pictures for me!

Coming up next: My favorite plant combos from our visit to the Dallas Arboretum

All material © 2006-2012 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

37 Responses

  1. Helen Yoest @ Gardening with Confidence says:

    Outstanding! I wish I was there and if could, I would be on the next plane. Thanks for sharing. Helen

    Wish you could too, Helen! —Pam

  2. Nancy says:

    Lovely, but what do they do during storms? I would be a nervous wreck, fearing thunderstorms,,,but oh, they are beautiful. Perhaps their very vulnerability is a part of the emotion they evoke.

    They say the glass is tougher than you’d think, and it has even survived hail. I read somewhere that they were a little concerned about the possibility of Texas-sized hail. But if a piece breaks, they say they’ll come right in and replace it. —Pam

  3. Frances says:

    You have done a great public service by showing us these glass masterpieces, Pam. I can only imagine what they looked like in person. Ahhhhhh…..

    If it ever travels to a garden near you, do go, Frances. You’d love it. —Pam

  4. gail says:

    Pam, This is the best Chihuly tour I’ve seen~it’s wonderful. He is a master and his work is beyond incredible. Similar pieces were here at Cheekwood, but, I don’t recall them looking as fantastic as your tour! gail

    It’s interesting how they are able to make each piece fit so well in different gardens, Gail. I remember seeing some of these in pictures of the exhibit at the Desert Botanical Garden a few years ago, and they looked completely different in that setting. —Pam

  5. Kathi says:

    Just beautiful……. Love the designs and colors. Haven’t seen anything like it in Montana.

    I first saw Chihuly glass at Chicago’s Garfield Park Conservatory. You never know where it will pop up. I hope you find some near you, Kathi. —Pam

  6. Dustin says:

    Awesome. Looks better than the one they did at Kew. Love it

    I’m glad you enjoyed the pics, Dustin. —Pam

  7. chorizo says:

    The Chihuly show is lovely…but at what cost?
    You should “dig” the plans the Dallas Arboretum have for paving our (free) public paradise at Winfrey Point.

    I’ve heard about the controversy, Chorizo. I hope it gets resolved in a way that satisfies both sides. —Pam

  8. Robyn says:

    Fantastic! I happened across the documentary “Chihuly in the Hotshop” about a year ago and I was mesmerized. It’s fascinating to see how he collaborates with other artists to do what he does.

    I didn’t see a way to watch it from this link, Robyn, but I’ll be on the lookout for it if it comes on TV or Netflix. —Pam

  9. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Be still my heart. I love his work. It is amazing to me that those tall towers aren’t broken in the wind. Bottle trees of one’s dreams.

    Nicely put, Lisa. Bottle trees of one’s dreams indeed. —Pam

  10. Mary Kay ward says:

    Saw his exhibit in Chicago a few years ago and it was amazing. The most beautiful exhibit I have ever seen. I would love to go to Dallas just to see this. Thanks for giving me this exquisite tour.

    It’s my pleasure, Mary Kay. —Pam

  11. As the Brits say, I’m gobsmacked! No one could visit there and feel down, the colors and forms are so lively and energizing. You’ve captured it all with such verve. I wish I could see it in person.

    I’m so glad you liked it, MMD. It’s a wonderful exhibit. —Pam

  12. Wow, so beautiful! Your pictures are great. I love his pieces at the Bellagio, but there are so many more in this show. I’m so excited to see this, we’re deciding now on the day or night show. Our schedule isn’t entirely our own that week, but I don’t think we can go wrong either way.

    I kind of hope you do the nighttime visit, Shirley, so I can enjoy your pictures. ;-) —Pam

  13. Tina says:

    I’ve seen his work before at an exhibition in San Antonio–incredible. Loved your photos!!

    Thanks, Tina. The sculptures were lots of fun to photograph. —Pam

  14. You know my feelings about ” art in the garden” but I must admit some of these were quite fabulous. I’ll chalk that up to your photography skills Pam!

    I do indeed, Loree. I thought you might like some of these, however, since so many have a contemporary, non-competitive presence in the garden. —Pam

  15. Stunning! He is truly a master of glass in the garden. I have been to two of his exhibits (Atlanta Botanical Garden & Frederik Meijer Sculpture Gardens). It was fun to see some of the same pieces in a different setting. Great photos!

    Lucky you to have seen two of his exhibits. I’d love to see another in a different setting one day. —Pam

  16. Layanee says:

    Unbelievable photos, Pam. Which do I like best? I cannot say as they are all spectacular. Thank you so much for sharing them.

    It is certainly hard to pick a favorite. At the time we thought we liked the Mirrored Hornets best, but they did not come out as well in photos. I was really drawn to the Persian Pond and the Blue Marlins. —Pam

  17. Julie says:

    What an amazing exhibit–I can’t fathom the amount of work not only to produce these incredible pieces of art–but to install them! What an incredible talent. (Although, the mom in me panics at the thought of glass in gardens!)

    Your photos are stunning–thanks so much for sharing your visit!

    It is hard to imagine how much time it took to make even one of the more intricate pieces, and then there’s the assembly! Amazing. —Pam

  18. Indie says:

    Wow, those are incredible!! I must say I am drawn to the softer ‘Blue Marlins’ and ‘Persian Pond’ ones as far as garden sculptures go, but they are all amazing works of art! Thanks for sharing!

    I like the quieter ones best too, Indie, at least from an “imagine this in my garden” standpoint. —Pam

  19. Wow. Not much else to say, really. We will have to find time to get there later in the summer. Did they share how long it took to make any single piece? So, so creative. Glad you went so I could really see what we were missing!

    We didn’t ask how long it took to make the pieces, but that’s a good question. The garden is well-staffed with docents, one at each piece of sculpture, who are ready to answer questions. You’ll enjoy the exhibit, Diana. —Pam

  20. Scott Weber says:

    I agree with many of the above, this is probably tbe best Chihuly exhibit I’ve seen…and it could very well be the masterful way it’s been displayed here. That shot of ‘‘Blue and Pink Marlins’ in front of the waterfall is poetic, Pam…just amazing! I wonder if that large purple grass in the one photo is Pennisetum ‘Vertigo’?

    I was hoping to get an ID on that dark-purple grass. It may well be Pennisetum ‘Vertigo.’ Thanks, Scott! —Pam

  21. Phillip says:

    They showed some of these last week on Good Morning America. Your photos are so much better. In a word, WOW.

    Oh, you flatter, Phillip. :-) I’m glad you enjoyed the pics. —Pam

  22. Darla says:

    I’m not sure how I feel about so many of these glass sculptures around. There are some very beautiful pieces that’s for sure.

    Are you not a fan, Darla? I’ll have pictures up of a few of the Arboretum’s classical sculptures later today or tomorrow. —Pam

  23. katina says:

    Wow, that’s awesome.

    It really is, Katina. —Pam

  24. That is a great exhibit! And, in a beautiful setting.
    I especially like the ‘Float Boat’. The ‘Yellow Icicle Tower’ is awesome and scary, at the same time.
    Thanks for taking us along.

    It’s my pleasure, Linda. I’m glad you enjoyed it. —Pam

  25. What a stupendous venture through the artwork of someone inspired by the forms of nature. You certainly were in your element, Pam! I find myself wondering, given the vastness of the show, if he does all his own work or if he has assistance. You’ve done a spectacular job of documenting the show, Pam. Hope you send him the link!

    Oh, I expect he has lots of help, Kathryn. But I wish I’d thought to ask the docents! —Pam

  26. Amazing!!! Can’t wait to go see it when we are going in June :-) Did you go to the Conservancy Tour on Saturday? My garden was on tour in Grapevine on Sunday with the Colleyville Promenade Tour. Wish you could have come a little bit west to visit. So many good things, so little time. If you are ever up this way again, I’d love for you to visit my garden.

    Hi, Toni. It’s kind of you to invite me to see your garden! I’d like that. Yes, I did go on the Dallas Open Days tour on Saturday and will have some pics up soon of three of the gardens. —Pam

  27. Oh, on the purple grass…It could be millet. I also know that Jimmy Turner likes the Prince and Princess varieties of purple fountain grass.

    Thanks for those suggestions, Toni. I wondered too if it might be a millet, but the online pics didn’t seem quite right. Maybe ‘Prince’ or ‘Princess’ though… —Pam

  28. louis says:

    That is incredible! I don’t think I have ever seen anything like it. thanks for sharing.

    It was not something I’d seen before either, Louis. I’m glad you enjoyed the virtual visit. —Pam

  29. Heather says:

    I cannot even put words to these images! Amazing! Thank you for sharing Pam :)

    So glad you enjoyed it, Heather. —Pam

  30. Kerry says:

    O Lordy! What a real treat thank you Pam. I just cannot believe none of those long twirly bits have broken yet. His work is completely amazing. I really like the Blue Fiddleheads and the Mirrored Hornets were totally beautiful but I would find a home in a heartbeat for those white lotuses.

    Your photos are excellent as usual. The reflection in the yellow mirror ball on the boat is superb – good enough for a competition entry for sure.

    Also, how do you pronounce Chihuly? Cha-HOO-lee?

    I’m glad you liked the pictures, Kerry. It was an amazing exhibit. I think the pronunciation is just as you guessed. —Pam

  31. […] viewing the Chihuly exhibit at the Dallas Arboretum on Sunday, I admired plenty of garden beds that did not contain stunning glass sculptures, like […]

  32. Les says:

    They are all wonderful and amazing, but I want a float boat for my very own.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Fill an old rowboat with Mexican gazing globes, Les, and you’ll have a DIY approximation. ;-) —Pam

  33. Karen M. says:

    Love your photos! I saw most of the exhibit during the week before it officially opened. I was able to watch them assemble some of the pieces. It was amazing! Now it is so wonderful to see all the finished pieces in your photos. Thanks for sharing!

    I bet it was interesting to watch them assemble these intricate sculptures, Karen. —Pam

  34. WOW – incredible!!!


    Exactly, Shawna. —Pam

  35. Barbara H. says:

    Wow, I’m just speechless. Amazing sculptures totally honored by your photography. Thank you!

    It was my pleasure, Barbara. —Pam

  36. […] May, while in Dallas for the Chihuly exhibit at the Dallas Arboretum, my family and I also visited the Dallas World Aquarium, which is misleadingly named. Sure, there […]

  37. Barbara says:

    Your pictures are fabulous and so inspirational! I am getting to go this week for both day and night viewing. Hopefully I will have pictures that are half as good as yours!!!

    Have a great time, Barbara. I wasn’t able to make a night viewing, though I really wanted to. I bet you’ll get some wonderful pics! —Pam