CHIHULY in the GARDEN
Desert Botanical Garden + Taliesin West
Text by Fiona Clarke
Photos Courtesy of Desert Botanical Garden

Renowned glass sculptor Dale Chihuly and his talented team’s installations will return to the Sonoran Desert in a joint exhibition at both the Desert Botanical Garden and Taliesin West. Opening Friday, December 3, both shows will be on view through June 19. 

Above: Summer Sun by Dale Chihuly. Taken at Desert Botanical Garden Exhibit, 2014.

There’s a certain drama when it comes to the work of Dale Chihuly. While the glass is beautiful and the installations elegant and intricate, there’s this sense that it’s also incredibly fragile. While his pieces have soared over Venice, illuminated Jerusalem and even sparkled in the snow, the placement of these incredible works of art among the Desert Botanical Garden’s glorious array of fauna and Taliesin West’s iconic Frank Lloyd Wright structures are truly inspired. Both venues, as well as the artist, are thrilled to have these sculptures back in the Valley for an encore performance.

Known for pioneering a new way of working, Chihuly utilizes gravity and centrifugal force to let molten glass find its shape in its own organic way. Asymmetry and irregularity is a defining principle of his work.

Though it takes a village to bring each piece to life, it’s Chihuly’s own artwork that starts the process. Whether it’s one of his own drawings or paintings, he and the team base each object on an existing blueprint. As a group they decide which type of glass to use for each installation, as many of the pieces will have to withstand the elements.

Above: Blue Flora Sun by Dale Chihuly. Taken at Desert Botanical Garden Exhibit, 2014.

And what is it about these location that draws Chihuly? As lucky as the Valley feels to have his work, it appears to be a two-way street. “It’s extraordinarily, and to again have the opportunity to have my pieces at the Garden and, for the first time, at Taliesin… I can’t tell you what an honor it is,” he explains. “I’m inspired by the desert. I’m inspired to make things that people haven’t seen before and make them as beautiful as I can.”

In Chihuly in the Desert, large-scale glass installations — including never-before-seen pieces — will be nestled along the trails among Desert Botanical Garden’s exquisite flora and fauna and also in Dorrance Hall, the indoor gallery.

Above: Neodymium Reeds by Dale Chihuly. Taken at Desert Botanical Garden Exhibit, 2014.

At Taliesin West, installations will be scattered across indoor spaces, on the lawns, in the water and “emerging from the desert itself,” according to a news release about the event. During the tour, guests will see the garden room, the drafting studio, the terrace that overlooks Scottsdale and other iconic spaces designed by Wright. Six of Chihuly’s artworks will be on display, including “a towering marine blue and citron tower in the garden squares.”

Reservations are required at both venues. The show is included with regular admission to Desert Botanical Garden. Taliesin West, the winter home and studio of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, is offering a 90-minute guided tour titled In a New Light: Chihuly in the Desert.

Chihuly in the Desert
December 3 – June 19, 2022
Desert Botanical Garden, www.dbg.org
Taliesin West, https://franklloydwright.org/taliesin-west