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Dale Chihuly Florida

Inside the Morean Arts Center’s Dale Chihuly Collection

The world-renowned glass artist may be from the Pacific Northwest, but you can find Dale Chihuly’s works in a much more tropical setting. Just head to Florida.

By Roni Reino | Photos © Nancy Nassiff

Freestanding sculptures with long twisting tendrils of blue, orange, and red drip from the ceiling of the Morean Arts Center in St. Petersburg. It’s 7,500 square feet of Dale Chihuly’s work – large-scale installations and smaller pedestal pieces – permanently on display and illuminated by spotlights in darkened rooms, almost overwhelming the viewer with their vast size and color.

His works have adorned casinos along the Las Vegas strip, at the Oklahoma Museum of Art, and at rotating exhibits as far as Quebec, Canada, and Venice, Italy. And even though his main studio remains in Seattle, in 2013 his famous Tumbleweeds and Macchia pieces joined the Morean Arts Center for a new audience to explore.

“One of the things about Dale’s work is a 9-year-old and a 90-year-old can come and see this exhibition together, and they’ll get the same amount of enjoyment out of it,” says Andy Schlauch, director of the Morean Arts Chihuly Collection.

Dale Chihuly, a Tacoma, Washington–born artist, has been blowing glass since the 1960s, sculpting works that now have expanded into the field of large-scale sculptures. His Mille Fiori, a glass garden of bold shapes and colors, has been a favorite of many, says Schlauch, and the spinney, scarlet Ruby Red Icicle Chandelier created specifically for the St. Petersburg exhibit, “it simply takes your breath away.”

“What inspires me the most is to be able to make something that is new, something that no one has ever seen before. It’s something that has power.” –Dale Chilhuly said following the introduction of this Florida exhibit.

And for those who want to see just how artists like Chihuly bend glass into fluid shapes, the Glass Studio & Hot Shop, just a few blocks from the Morean Arts Center, comes into play. An initiative brought forth by Chihuly himself, this behind-the-scenes demonstrations gives guests a chance to watch 45-minute demonstrations from local artists on how to coax molten glass into bowls, tendrils, and vases. Many of the masterpieces are then available for sale in the newly added 1,000-square-foot gallery/retail space.

“Bringing the collection here was one thing, but [Chihuly] wanted for guests to experience the art of glass blowing in Florida,” says Judy Wood, marketing manager of the museum. “It has become an opportunity to observe local artists creating unique works.”

Find more of Chihuly’s works in Florida

Sarasota Museum of Art and Design [Sarasota, FL]

Spring 2014 saw the “Che Colore” show with 10 of Chihuly’s works. And while there is no permanent Chihuly collection here, every summer, the Basch Gallery hosts a glass show, almost always showcasing one or two of his pieces.

Lido Beach Resort | The Resort at Longboat Key Club

Artis-Naples (Home of The Baker Museum) [Naples, FL]

A kaleidoscope of color streams through a signature Chihuly Persian Ceiling, made of yellow, green, red, and blue organic glass shapes, like a school of jellyfish.

Edgewater Beach Hotel

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