Sunday December 11, 2005

Chihuly at Fairchild

Chihuly at Fairchild tropical gardens

Just what we needed – the natural beauty of South Floridia, “improved,” by a grotesque and cartoonish caricature of same, coutesy of Dale Chiuly. The glass-blowing fella has graced our natural scenery with several thousand pieces, melded into our own habitat. Or has he? It would seem that the same set of pieces also fit pretty well into Atlanta’s gardens, as well as numerous others.

Yes, yes – it’s beautiful. The most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen. It’s fucking uncanny. Wanna see more pictures? (We dropped in this weekend, and paid the $20 admission (in retrospect, it seemed like it’d have been easy to sneak in).) You can’t see mine – check out Marc’s.

I should say that I went in really wanting to like this, but at every step I was underwhelmed by the glass. In fact, my enjoyment of the “real” stuff was hampered by the expectation of something “more” from the glass. The real problem turns out to be an artistic one – art is best viewed when it is seen in contrast to its surroundings: paintings look good in a white-box gallery, and Chihuly sculptures look good in urban settings, in museums, in Jerusalem . . . anywhere but in nature.

Whatever. Never been to Farichilld before? Give it six months or so to recover from our unnaturally rough hurricane season (even the Chihuli stuff will be up untill mid-2006), and drop by for sure; just don’t expect some blown glass to enhance your enjoyment of our natural plant life.

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  1. Franklin    Mon Dec 12, 03:13 AM #  

    Frankly, the glass makes you realize how beautiful the plants are.

  2. mkh    Mon Dec 12, 06:47 PM #  

    The Chihuly book I’d ordered didn’t arrive until after my visit, so I didn’t know until later how few of the pieces are original for Fairchild. To their credit, Fairchild’s own on-line photos indicate the original exhibit location for each of the works.

    Alesh, maybe you can give us a short version of the controversy about this guy’s stuff. From my limited reading, it seems as though many art-conscious people think of him as a 3D version of Thomas Kinkade, and unworthy of serious consideration. You know Art—what’s the deal?

  3. alesh    Mon Dec 12, 06:54 PM #  

    i suppose his stuff is just prettiness to no particular end, see Romero Britto. His stuff is “easy” not in a technical sense (maybe that way, too; no idea), but in the sense that it’s colorful amorphous shapes made out of glass. In some sense, what makes it impressive is just that it’s glass – the shapes look like doodles anyone might make on paper.

    incidentally, i don’t have a particular beef with him – i just think the garden setting is obvious and trite. i’ve seen picures of his stuff in more urban settings (couldn’t find the one i particularly remembered online) where it was much more effective.

  4. harumi    Mon Dec 12, 08:02 PM #  

    so I took a class at FIU this semester which was to help the chihuly group set up this show, but I didn’t see him whole time… The instuller told me those glass are recycled. So if some rich person order one of those his special glass chandelia. They will reuse the glass from fair child show.

    I didn’t get to learn what Chihuly actually does besides using his name to do all these thing… I guess he make sketch to do this?? does anyone know?

  5. Franklin    Mon Dec 12, 08:31 PM #  

    He oversees a team of glassblowers who produce a series of works specifically for the site, but often based on previous incarnations of works for other sites. He can’t do the glassblowing himself because he lost an eye and the spatial problems are too hard to negotiate. (Glassblowing is like working with a heavy, 900-degree soap bubble.)

    He’s more serious than Kinkade. (He has an MFA from my alma mater, RISD.) Kinkade is horrifically trite and conventional. Chihuly is inventive, and a lot of credit goes to him for raising the profile of glass sculpture, particularly during the 90s. His work suffers from being excessively pretty and mannered, as if the excesses of Venetian glasswork were being forced through a mold of contemporary sculpture.

    The guy has serious marketing acumen, probably on par with Kinkade’s, and it can be hard to not hold that against him when he puts pretty little things in the gift shop for $5K in case you can’t afford the $900K stuff in the garden. One wonders if one is not looking at modern iterations of Faberge eggs, even in regards to the large-scale work.

  6. mkh    Mon Dec 12, 11:11 PM #  

    Thanks Alesh, Harumi, and Franklin. I have a little better idea now what the “controversy” is. I don’t feel quite as embarassed now with finding it pretty and fun, since that’s all it is supposed to be.

  7. j-man    Wed Dec 14, 04:58 PM #  

    I dont know much about the fairchild gardens, but is it presenting or representing nature? At least Chiuly is not fooling you!