Bear with me for just a bit of background. Frank Lloyd Wright, who died in 1959, was a famous architect and designer who left us with around 300 buildings, one of them being the Guggenheim museum. His houses taken altogether are UNESCO sites. He’s considered to be one of the the greatest U.S. architects of all time, and his greatest legacy is “organic architecture,” or the idea that buildings harmonize both with their inhabitants and with their environment.
“No house should ever be on a hill or on anything. It should be of the hill. Belonging to it. Hill and house should live together each the happier for the other.”– Frank Lloyd Wright: An Autobiography
Dale Chihuly, currently 80 years old, is an American glass artist whose work is in museum collections worldwide. We were introduced to his work at home in St. Louis when he exhibited in the Missouri Botanical Garden. I loved seeing the exhibition for the year that it was there, and returned often to see it both by day and lit up at night. Some of the art became permanent installations there.
So what do these two men have in common?
I was happy to discover, upon arrival in the Phoenix area, that Chihuly had two exhibitions in town. One was at the Frank Lloyd Wright house, Taliesin West, and the other at the Desert Botanical Garden. We went to both. The picture at the top of this post shows Chihuly’s glass as part of the exhibit at Taliesin West, which is located near Scottsdale, Arizona.
Both Chihuly and Wright were inspired by light, color and nature. Above, the blue glass are saguaros and the low red glass next to them are desert plants; the red glass in the water are reeds. Wright’s house blends with the desert and is made of natural materials. Neutral brown, red, and orange colors match the colors that you see in the desert.
Wright is from Wisconsin and his home there is called Taliesin East. He was a snowbird! Taliesin West is where he came in the winter time. He wanted to teach others, so this place was, and still is, a working laboratory. My picture of the drafting room shows only a couple of the many drafting tables here.
He loved music and played the piano, and his was a Steinway which he would drag outside for impromptu concerts. Taliesin also has an acoustically sound cabaret.
On another day, we visited the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. We purchased tickets for late in the afternoon, to catch the setting sun on the glass and to see it lit up.
I hadn’t realized that the setting sun would have its effect on the cactus and other plants in the garden, bathing them in a warm glow.
There was an exquisite indoor display of Chihuly’s work.
The desert plants definitely held their own beauty against Chihuly’s glass. I had to take a second look at these pretty blue flowers; they looked like little pieces of glass in the setting sun.
I thought the cactus above was a saguaro until I read the description of it. It is a cardon, brought from Baja more than 75 years ago when it was less than 5 feet tall. Truly amazing! I was happy to catch the person walking by it for a little perspective.
Toward the end, the Chihuly installations were starting to glow.
Next time – More of Phoenix and Gold Canyon