Sunday, August 17, 2008

Chihuly Exhibit

On Sunday at the Gathering, I couldn't help myself -- I escaped for a few hours to go to the de Young Museum in San Francisco to see the Chihuly glass exhibit. I was torn between bead demo/talks that I certainly would have enjoyed and learned from and the opportunity to see the exhibit, but mental saturation finally made the decision for me.

Sadly, I'd say I was less wowed than I expected, although I definitely enjoyed playing with photography of the displays. I've seen quite a bit of Chihuly glass at exhibits, galleries and permanent installations around the country. It is always impressive, colorful, huge and amazing. But somehow having 11 rooms of it seemed to detract in a difficult to determine way. I'd have to say that I like the glass better when it's installed out in the world, especially amid live gardens or hanging in a stairwell. Somehow the exhibit seemed harsh and brittle. Dark rooms with spotlights on the work and mirrored platforms gave interesting lighting and reflections, but also reinforced the cold, hard nature of the work. The groupings were based entirely on form -- a room of baskets, a room with five enormous chandeliers, a "garden" reproduced entirely in glass, etc. There was little subtlety available; everything was over the top, loud and in-your-face.

I found myself halfway through thinking "this is it???" I know the general public loved it. I expected to love it too. I'm still thinking about why I was disappointed.