Thursday, June 19, 2008

Chihuly... more than just paperweights

In the midst of my move to Seattle over four years ago, I papered the town (electronically of course) with cover letters and resumes. I made my case in earnest that I had every intention to move from Boston and that I was available for interviews by phone and in person if necessary. Hardly anyone listened. However, of the 150+ jobs I applied for, two took me seriously. The Glass Art Society (GAS) and Dale Chihuly's glass studio both requested interviews and I was able to time one successfully with my inaugural visit- a short go-see of sorts that included time in Ballard, Bremerton and the San Juan islands. The Chihuly studio was located in an industrial neighborhood of Ballard and despite its unassuming exterior, revealed a very classy, design-savvy interior where I met their head office maven. Don't ask me what her real title was- I have no idea now.

We talked in detail about my background (mostly reception work and event coordination at the time), my plans to move to Seattle (they were indeed, real), and my degree in Art (it was indeed, virtually useless). I had applied for a position as a studio assistant and I was intrigued by the opportunity to work for someone amazingly famous. Granted, I had never met the imposing, barrel-chested man equally well-known for the spiralling cascades of his glass installations as for his proudly iconic eye patch. Following the interview there was a series of miscommunications and of course, I didn't get the job. And so Chihuly remained a mystery.

Perhaps for feeling jaded by the whole hiring experience, every so often I'd see one of his pieces and think, "Meh. Not so great." And when in conversation his name would come up, I didn't hesitate to crack the typical pirate joke at his expense. Despite having felt the heat of a tiny flame and struggled to balance the timing of one twisting hand with the speed of molten glass when I tried my hand (once) at making a simple glass bead... I've always kind of assumed glass was- easy, I guess. But today, I saw this:

At 14' tall, "Sun" is astounding. And am I ever the fool. These tendrils of glass are amazing. And their assembly to create such a dynamic, engaging and detailed work borders on the fantastic. If you're in the Bay Area, be sure to check out the Chihuly exhibit at the de Young.

I came across the announcement of this show thanks to the fine folks over at MediaBistro who run a blog called Unbeige. They post regular updates in the fascinating (and ever-changing) world of art and design that manage to both educate and inspire me from time to time. Not to mention, they take a little snark with their art... and that's just my speed.

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