Thursday, September 16, 2010

Chihuly at Cheekwood

After recently seeing the new permanent Dale Chihuly collection in St. Pete, it was a great follow up to see the collection currently installed (until 10/31/10) at Cheekwood in Nashville. Seeing the glass installations in this gorgeous outdoor setting definitely outshone the permanent collection in St. Pete.

Cheekwood is a great place to visit anytime--an estate and grounds dedicated to providing the public enjoyment of the arts and gardens, thanks to the generosity of the Cheek family and their Maxwell House Coffee fortune. Set on 55 acres, Cheekwood offers a beautiful home filled with art (including a great collection of Faberge), a sculpture trail, botanical gardens and educational facilities.

The best way to view the Chihuly exhibit is during "Chihuly Nights"--every Wed., Thur. and Fri. from 4:30-10. We arrived at dusk and began the trail, which starts with a magnificent neon tower (Saffron Tower) and cattails throughout the surrounding area. The bamboo garden would have been amazing in itself, but with the red silvered reeds interspersed, it was a true reflection of Chihuly's work integrating with nature. As dark fell, the works truly shone. The boat in a small pond contained vibrant glassworks of all shapes and sizes. We had seen a similar installation in St. Pete, placed on a black lacquered floor to appear like water, but in the real water with the ripples reflecting the glass, it was at its finest.

As you wound toward the art museum, a giant "sun" was installed on the front lawn, juxtaposing the modern with the old architecture of the home. We didn't realize there was art throughout the museum as well, and it was a pleasant surprise. Chihuly's chandeliers were particularly impressive, especially the large one in ivory and gold tones above the twisting stairs. Two more stunning installations sat at the side of the museum, one striking shades of blue mixed in with nature and the other like tall green and purple reeds in the side pond.

There were photos of Chihuly's works throughout the world and a video to watch in the learning center as well. Overall, the amount of art on display was impressive and well worth the price of admission. Chihuly's works really are best displayed on grounds like these and interacting with the environment in such unique ways. It overshadowed the permanent installation--I'm certainly glad I saw that one first, or it would have been a bit disappointing, especially for the same admission price.

Check out Chihuly at Cheekwood if you can make it before it leaves. I would definitely go at night, and perhaps even bring a picnic along. The weather was perfect when we visited and there is plenty to enjoy for a few hours. Cheekwood has great picnic spots, as well as a restaurant (plus refreshments & drinks in the evening) on site. There is a corresponding exhibit at the Frist Center and they offer a combination ticket for both (the Frist exhibit has timed tickets, so check in advance).

For more photos of the exhibit click here.

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