Friday, February 24, 2012

A Very Photogenic Day

February 24, 2012
The Chihuly Collection in St. Petersburg is the only museum-quality collection of Dale Chihuly sculptures in the world.  Unfortunately, cameras are not allowed in the galleries.  The sculptures are spectacular, and the way that they are displayed and lit-- to project color and shadows, to create reflections and enhance sparkle—adds drama and another dimension to the glassworks.  This photo from a Tampa Bay Times website review gives a clue to the drama of the theatrically lit galleries.

I have never heard him say so in an interview, but I always think that Dr. Seuss illustrations must have been one of his major artistic influences, in addition to Murano glass.  This photo is from the museum website--we didn't cheat and sneak in a camera.

Dale Chihuly does not actually blow glass anymore.  Back in the 1970s he was in a bad auto accident, and lost an eye, which limited his peripheral vision and his depth perception.  Then in the late 1970s he badly injured a shoulder body surfing, which made it difficult for him to do the heavy physical labor of blowing his large scale works.  Since then, he has designed his glass installations and led his team of over 100 workers who create, assemble and install the works that bear his name.  He is like a composer and conductor of music—he doesn’t actually play the instruments, but it is his vision and his direction of the process that determines the outcome.

Here are a few pictures we could take of his small pieces for sale in the gift shop.  

You can have this beautiful Jaffa Orange Persian Set for $24,000.  It is sitting right out there on a countertop in the gift shop where an unattended child could cost his parent a lot of money.

And, here is a pair of shoes inspired by Dale Chihuly’s shoes.  Dale Chihuly does his design work using acrylic paint in squeeze bottles.  He stands over a large sheet of water color paper placed on the floor, and enthusiastically squeezes and spreads the paint, resulting in lots of paint spatters on his shoes.  Emulating the master, many members of the staff have spattered their shoes with paint.  (Our docent claims she has ten pair.  I am sorry I didn’t get a photo of her shoes—they were beautiful, with finely lined almost zebra-like swizzles of paint.)

After lunch at a trendy bistro next door to the museum, we went retro, visiting the Sunken Gardens, a St. Petersburg landmark since 1935.

A plumber who liked to garden in his spare time bought the four acre property in 1903, and drained a large shallow lake on it, exposing rich soil where he planted fruits and exotic tropical plants from all over the world.  As his garden grew, so did the number of visitors, until he began to charge admission in the 1920s, and then officially opened it as a tourist attraction in 1935.

We can’t say exactly why we were a bit disappointed.  Maybe we expected more flowers or more exotic atmosphere.  But, the garden was a lovely little oasis with lots of shade and plashing water on a record-setting hot sunny day. 

Pretty in Pink
Is pink the official color of Florida? 

Roseate Spoonbills and White Ibises gather at a pond beside busy Highway 41:

Rose crystal column in front of the Chihuly Collection:

Vinoy Resort and Golf Club in St. Petersburg. The tower reminds me of a wedding cake:

Flamingo at Sunken Gardens:

Bougainvillea at Sunken Gardens:

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