Best Bet: Last Chance to See "Chihuly Venetians"

June 2012

I've always been fascinated by blown glass. Clumsy as I can be, it's a mystery to me how a person can take something as fragile as glass and–without breaking it—heat it, turn it, and shape it into a vibrant piece of art.

Almost no one is better at accomplishing that feat than Dale Chihuly. The Seattle-based glassblower—perhaps most widely known for Chihuly Over Venice and for designing the ceiling of the Bellagio in Las Vegas—was the first American glass artist to be invited to study with Italian masters. Some of those works are on display at Foothills Art Center in Golden along with a number of other rarely seen pieces from a private collection.

Along with an array of vases called Piccolos (meaning "little") and Puttis (works that feature cherub-like figures, pictured top left) is the grand dame of the exhibit: the Laguna Murano Chandelier (detailed shot, pictured right). Considered one work of art, it's actually made up of five individual structures that are crafted using 1,500 individual pieces. A team of Chihuly-approved installers took a week to put the puzzle-like set together.

The most interesting part: Each time it's exhibited, the chandelier looks different. The installers mount it in a way that best fits the space, swapping pieces and changing the configuration. (Check out a time-lapse video of the process.) "It's a huge, crazy, breakable puzzle," says Reilly Sanborn, executive director of Foothills.

The takeaway: Don't bring your biggest purse to this exhibition. But do see it before it closes on June 30.

Top left image courtesy of Jay Clawson