Chihuly Nights Review

May 22, 2023
David Sunnyside

The dazzling glass sculptures of contemporary artist Dale Chihuly can be found in countless outdoor settings, intertwined with natural landscapes and illuminating the interiors of historic buildings. But the magic really happens at night. From May 2-October 15, select installations are transformed for a special summertime experience called chihuly nights. The show is a bit like a garden glow, with forms that seem otherworldly by day glowing with colorful lights.

The show is on at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, where towering red forms rise up through green saguaros and purple shapes float amid black ones. It's the first time the show has been exhibited outdoors and is a collaboration with Taliesin West, the Scottsdale home of architect Frank Lloyd Wright. It highlights the intersection of art and nature at 16 sites throughout the gardens.

A team of about 20 people works at each site for two weeks to build the exhibit. Hundreds of boxes marked "fragile" and "glass" fill several privately contracted container trucks as the team travels to each location. As they unload the pieces, the crew lays them on moving blankets for fellow workers to install.

It's not easy to do. The lighting system has to work with changing plant and weather conditions, and the lighting itself must reflect Chihuly's desire for his sculptures to feel as if they are lit from within. The lighting designer, Steven Cochran, says he often feels alone in the dark as he adjusts the light levels around the various pieces.

David Sunnyside
Co-founder of Urban Splatter • Digital Marketer • Engineer • Meditator
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