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DALE CHIHULY
at  Talley Dunn Gallery and at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden
by Todd Camplin

A hot debate has be brewing about Dale Chihuly. Where does his work belong in contemporary
art,  if at all? The Huffington Post gave an online poll asking if he was even an artist at all. Well, just
because he works in glass doesn’t delegitimize him as an artist, and like any art, not everything he
does is a masterpiece. I find the context of his work helps to frame his work better. For example, you
can see his work up in Dallas at Talley Dunn Gallery and at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden.
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Dallas’ Botanical Garden is really the best place to see this work. Big glassware in the outdoors,
tempting fate and looking like plants from another world. I have often wondered why Star Trek
never used his work for alien world plants. I think the interaction of his work with nature creates
an interesting dialog between art and constructed gardens of natural life. Both his glass and
the plants are displayed and ordered into a joint installation. I remember being captivated by
his work when I visited a few museums and seeing a video of his show in Israel, but then I kept
seeing the work. An explosion of glass in art galleries and museums all over. I am reminded,
however, that some key conceptual elements are still present in the work. One, no longer is
art split from crafts in separate categories. Two, his willingness to display the work in the
elements of outdoor space attests to his commitment to the experience of glass. In the
garden, he is not concerned with preserving crafted object, because, he can replace
them like a factory.
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On the other hand, as in the Talley Dunn Gallery show, he does create crafted works to be
displayed by collectors in homes. Though this takes away some of the conceptual punch,
I think it no less brings a sense of beauty and elegance that is very artful. It seems as though
both shows include some works that reach a level of “over the top” garishness, but we live
in a time with Jeff Koons and Takashi Murakami, so baroque is the order of the day.
Dale Chihuly
Ivory Feather and Amber Chandelier, 2010
Hand-blown glass
84 x 73 x 73 inches
Copyright: Dale Chihuly/Chihuly Studio
Photo credit: Jennifer Durham

Dale Chihuly’s work will be on display at Talley Dunn Gallery until August 18th, while The Dallas’
Botanical Garden installation will be out until November 5th. Plus, the Dallas Museum of Art
has a piece up now and then and the Jesuit Dallas Museum also has a piece.
Cobalt Marlins and Trumpet Flower Fiori, 2009
Hand-blown glass and wood base
96 x 96 x 96 inches
Copyright: Dale Chihuly/Chihuly Studio
Photo credit: Scott Mitchell Leen
Chihuly Exhibit at the Dallas Arboretum