The exhibit Chihuly: A New Eden features many works of art in 15 indoor and outdoor locations. The pieces are on loan and were shipped to and assembled at Meijer to fit the unique landscape. The exhibit runs through September 30.
I like that the title New Eden reflects that the pieces have gone in new directions beyond the traditional Chihuly forms, both in materials and settings. In other exhibits I've visited, all pieces were made of glass and each piece was set in natural surroundings, so the organic and inorganic melded and blended, with complementary or contrasting colors and forms. The plants and the art were one.
In addition to those kinds of pieces, Meijer also had new creations made of polyvitro and neon, and pieces that stood on their own as centerpieces.
The Lime Crystal Tower in the Lower Falls is made of polyvitro, a polymer plastic that is much lighter than glass, which Chihuly developed to create very large pieces. The pieces are still blown and shaped in the same manner as glass pieces. The first photo also shows my favorite permanent piece at Meijer (right, Liz?!), Aria by Alexander Liberman.
I've never been wild about pale pink, but I very much liked the Rose Crystal Tower in the Volunteer Tribute Garden. The pale color of this second polyvitro tower allows the sun to really shine through and sparkle, and it matched the glass of the conservatory very well.
Sometimes my macro setting actually totally rocks it.
These Blue Polyvitro Crystals were floating in the Wetlands. I like how they look like mini icebergs. We also heard green frogs calling in this pond.
A few pieces were also made of neon. Three neon Tumbleweeds were hanging from the conservatory ceiling. I imagine they look especially impressive when turned on at dusk. I thought this bright pink one with the black tips should could just as easily be called Flamingo.
Another neon piece was Saffron Tower, here with Mirage I & II by Elisabeth Frink and Plantoir by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. I bet Saffron stands out even more at night!
Moving on to the Sculpture Park Waterfall and more traditional Chihuly pieces, these Niijima Floats added wonderful color and depth to the scene.
I just love the colors on this Niijima Float.
In my last visit, I somehow missed Summer Dance by Barbara Hepworth in the permanent collection and was bound to catch it this time. Here is the golf cart that transported us that hot day, through the back of Dance.
The Groves and Hekman Pond had some wonderful displays, including Yellow Boat. The boat is one of the first Chihuly forms I saw and I always like that setting.
Here are some of the boat pieces close up. The black ones are Belugas.
On the other side of the pond from the boat is this stunning "blue allium." I would have hugged it had I been able to get close enough without falling in the water or getting poked in the eye. It is orders of magnitude more striking in person, and its true name is Blue Moon.
The same pond also contains many Walla Wallas, with B-Tree II by Kenneth Snelson to the right. As near as I can tell, Walla Wallas have curly-cue tops (kind of like Hershey's Kisses), whereas Niijima Floats do not, though both are displayed on water.
The Red Reeds on the lawn alongside the Amphitheater Hillside Main Tram Path were striking, arranged in Vs which is impossible to tell from the photo.
The Yellow Reeds in the Woodland Shade Garden create an entirely different mood. Note they are inserted into tree trunks.
Eelglass in the Lena Meijer Children's Garden.
I was amused by this little door through which kids can enter. Meijer Amy thought it would be funny for one of us to pose with it, and "our" Amy did. (You knew I'd use this, right, Amy?!)
A lot of cool pieces were interspersed in the English Perennial and Bulb Garden. These blue and pink Herons look right at home there.
Someone must have done something uncouth there, though, because the grass paths that led up to most of the pieces were roped off. These wonderful Trumpets (did you hear a Hoo?) were visible only from inside through windows...
...as was this octopus (technically, probably Herons).
The Citron Green and Red Tower really stands out from a distance and is one of the first pieces you see when you enter the gardens. I was kind of wondering why it was called green...
...until I walked up closer to it. It was one of the handful of pieces you could get up close & personal with.
Another so-close-you-could-but-don't!-touch-it piece was Summer Sun in the Cultural Commons.
It's really obvious how it was named.
I could have looked at it for hours. The pieces were so intricate and detailed.
Polyvitro Chandelier was hanging on the ceiling of the Lena Meijer Tropical Conservatory. I like all the metallic colors. The conservatory also had more traditional glass pieces, set in with the tropical plants.
Cobalt blue glass is a personal favorite, and I loved how the sun lit up one of the pieces of the Basket Forest.
Here you can see that each Basket contains smaller pieces. And can you see how translucent the glass is, so the fern shows through it?
I loved these orange Persians so much that I wanted to take one home, except that of course
This orange Ikebana really fits into the tropical conservatory.
This Ikebana seems to be saying "Oh, so so close. Evil palm, I will reach you yet, buh ha ha ha!"
I love the Macchia bowls, one of my favorite Chihuly shapes and always so colorful.
I love how art and plants make me rethink things. I always think I love bold, bright, riotous colors, and yet I can think of dozens of pastel flowers I like. And while "pale yellow" in words does nothing for me, I adored how the colors of the bamboo and Macchia blend so wonderfully, while their textures provide contrast. Unexpectedly, it was one of my favorite vignettes in the whole exhibit.
If you're anywhere vaguely near Grand Rapids, Michigan, I strongly recommend you visit soon.
Check out an earlier post to see more sculptures permanently on display at Meijer.
Check out more Meijer photos in my Flickr album.
Special thanks to Amy Sawade for arranging our tour and lunch!