On a beautiful, early summer morning, the seniors from First Baptist Church made their way to Little Rock to the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum to see the Dale Patrick Chihuly Exhibit and to eat in Cafe 42 — named after the 42nd president of the United States, William Jefferson Clinton.
Chihuly is an American glass sculptor and entrepreneur. His works are considered unique in the field of blown glass, “moving into the realm of large-scale sculpture,” according to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The technical difficulties of working with glass forms are considerable, yet Chihuly uses it as a primary medium for installations and environmental artwork.
Chihuly was bom in Tacoma, Wash. He enrolled at the College of Puget Sound in 1959. A year later, he transferred to the University of Washington in Seattle, where in 1965, he received a bachelor of arts degree in interior design. In 1967, he received a master of science degree in sculpture from the U of W in Madison. In 1968, he studied glass blowing in Venice on a Fulbright Fellowship and received a master of fine arts at the Rhode Island School of Design. In 1971, Chihuly co-founded the Pilchuck Glass School near Standford, Wash.
In 1976, while in England, Chihuly was involved in a head-on car accident during which he flew through the windshield. His face was severely cut by glass, and he was blinded in his left eye. After recovering, he continued to blow glass until he dislocated his right shoulder in a 1979 bodysurfing accident. No longer able to hold the glass blowing pipe, he hired others to do the work. Chihuly explained the change in a 2006 interview, saying “Once I stepped back, I liked the view” and pointed out that it allowed him to see the work from more perspectives and enabled him to anticipate problems faster. Chihuly describes his role as “more choreographer than dancer, more supervisor than participant, more director than actor.”
The Little Rock exhibit includes new and early works representing the breadth and scope of the artist’s vision over the last four decades. The works include an installation of 200 spiky red and orange glass reeds in the fountain outside the main entrance to the library, a 24-by-24 foot installation from his Mille Fiori (thousand flowers) series comprising more than 500 separate pieces of blown glass of various sizes that, taken together, seem to form an undersea garden, 18 of his Seaforms accompanied by study sketches made by the artist, and a sea blue and green tower that consists of more than 750 separate pieces of glass.
Another Chihuly piece, “Crystal Tree of Light,” which was showcased in 2000 at the White House Millennium celebration is on permanent display on the third floor of the library.
The exhibit will be on display during the center’s 10th anniversary in November and will run through Jan. 5.
Those making the trip were the driver, John “Algie” Bost, the organizer of the SAMS, Jeanette McGrew, Martha Sue Bost, Betty Craig, Catherine Long, Peggie Howard, Dot Matthews of Bastrop, La., Wanda Scruggs, Sondra Solito of West Monroe, La., and Beverly Warren.