Are There Glass Snakes in Dale Chihuly’s Fragile Eden?
The single-word, all-caps title — “CHIHULY” — of a new show at the New York Botanical Garden conveys immediately exactly what visitors will be getting: vibrant glass sculptures in a familiar style, one that often recalls nature, and sometimes competes with it.
For the exhibition, which runs through Oct. 29, the Seattle glassmaker Dale Chihuly and his team have spread 20 different installations throughout the garden’s 250 acres. Visitors who head to the Bronx will find a 30-foot-tall “Scarlet and Yellow Icicle Tower” and the spiky blue supernova “Sapphire Star.”
Tucked away in the grand old Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, 14 bright red and lily-pad-shaped “Persians” and 18 slender “Blue Herons” emerge from a pond, alongside lush green plants.
Mr. Chihuly’s exhibition here in 2006 attracted some 360,000 people, the largest crowd in the Garden’s history then. But his showmanship has also attracted a certain ambivalence, from both the art world — the website Artinfo ran an article in 2012 called “Top 10 Favorite Mean Things That Have Been Said About Dale Chihuly” — as well as from garden visitors.
When it opened last weekend, however, many viewers said they came to the garden specifically to see the Chihuly works. “We have gardens in Indianapolis, too,” said Sarah Wasson, who was visiting New York. “But the way he juxtaposes glass, which is hard, with plants that are soft — that’s what I like.”