If you have already painted the town red, turn to the desert. Arizona’s stunning Sonoran Desert features red, orange, yellow, purple, and a brilliant blue sky.
Dale Chihuly highlights these vibrant colors in his new exhibition “Chihuly in the Desert,” set against the backdrop of green saguaros, red sandstone buttes, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s desert-hued architecture.
Chihuly’s work is being featured at two venues, the Desert Botanical Garden and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West, from December 3, 2021, until at least June 19, 2022.
Visitors will experience art, architecture, and scenery in an unparalleled and colorful experience.
As Chihuly says, “I want people to be overwhelmed with light and color in a way they have never experienced.”
Nature, Chihuly, And The Desert Botanical Gardens
In Tacoma, Washington, Chihuly grew up in “a house distinguished by his mother’s garden.” Botanical themes continued to influence his work and choice of exhibition sites. As well as appearing in museums worldwide, his work has graced significant gardens such as The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay, and major gardens in the United States.
One of Phoenix’s most popular attractions, The Desert Botanical Gardens, contains a collection of 50,000 desert plants stretching over 140 acres.
These world-famous gardens hosted Dale Chihuly in 2013. Now he returns with his all-new exhibition. Chihuly’s glass sculptures will blend seamlessly with the botanical landscape as glass lends itself perfectly in mirroring the spiny foliage, spikes, and dense tangles on the Medusa-like Octopus Cactus.
But just as nature can be showy, sometimes the Chihuly installations evoke wows and whistles when visitors turn a corner and see his dazzling juxtapositions of scale and color.
Chihuly’s glass creations reflect the blue sky and changing hues of the desert as the day passes. Imagine the intense colors at sunset. At night, lights further illuminate the magical colors.
Entry to the Chihuly exhibition is included with admission or garden membership. Visit here for more information.
Pro Tip: The Desert Botanical Garden has about a mile and a half of trails split into quarter-mile loops that link up to a large main trail. Trails are wheelchair accessible, or scooters can be reserved. As well as garden trails, there is a major indoor gallery in Dorrance Hall.
Taliesin West: Where Two Great Masters Meet
Chihuly’s installations are so responsive to light and their surroundings that each of his exhibitions produces a totally new experience.
A second Chihuly exhibition is 10 miles away at Taliesin West. This was Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home and architectural school in the desert from 1937 until his death in 1959 at age 91. Today it is also the main campus of the School of Architecture at Taliesin and houses the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.
This UNESCO World Heritage site and National Historic Landmark nestles in the foothills of the McDowell Mountains in Scottsdale. As an example of Wright’s organic architecture, the low-slung buildings emerge from the rocks and sand of the Sonoran Desert and feature a dramatic triangular-shaped reflective pool and 600 acres of ground. It’s a stunning location to see Chihuly’s glass creations which are inside the building, on the lawns, floating on the water, and emerging from the desert.
The Desert Laboratory of Wright’s Taliesin West is also an ideal backdrop for exploring the design principles present in both Chihuly’s sculptures and Wright’s architecture. Tours explore the work of both masters.
“Chihuly and Frank Lloyd Wright, two American originals taking inspiration from the country’s unique physical and cultural landscapes, are a perfect fit at Taliesin West,” said Stuart Graff, president and CEO of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. “With our World Heritage buildings and mountainous desert backdrop, the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation presents its first exhibition of this kind, revealing how art, architecture, and nature come together to connect our visitors more deeply with the world around them.”
Visit Chihuly in the Desert for additional details about the Taliesin West exhibition and the joint Wright & Chihuly Tour.
Pro Tip: Wright designed Taliesin West in the early 20th century before modern accessibility standards. In 2020 the foundation added handrails, ramps, and a wheelchair-accessible restroom to assist guests with mobility challenges.
Know Before You Go
Tickets are on sale starting October 4 for the exhibitions from December 3, 2021, through June 19, 2022. To purchase tickets, visit ChihulyintheDesert.com.