Is Dale Chihuly A Legitimate Artist?

05/25/2012 12:52 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2012

Dale Chihuly is one of the most controversial and successful artists working today. Ever since multiple injuries left him unable to physically create his own work, he has presided over a company of "artisans," as he calls them, who blow enormous glass pieces using methods Chihuly has trademarked. The completed pieces are inscribed with the Chihuly name and can be found in nearly every state in the country -- from the Bellagio in Las Vegas to Texas' botanical gardens to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Critics contend that Chihuly is more a businessman than an artist. Indeed, even his biggest supporters praise his artistry and self-promotional abilities in the same breath. When the Seattle Center opened its doors last week to reveal the largest Chihuly museum in the world, it was in defiance of local critics who dismissed the project as a crass marketing scheme that trod on valuable green space.

A post we wrote on the subject received hundreds of views and comments. Readers split along extreme lines: either they found Chihuly's work breathtaking, and wanted to buy a ticket to Seattle then and there, or they called him "the Thomas Kinkade of glass art" (decidedly not a compliment, as that commenter made sure everyone knew).

We found the debate fascinating. Whether or not Chihuly can be considered an artist begs the question of what art is. Is it necessarily something other than a product, and if so, how can the divide between the two be defined? We asked HuffPost blogger and Chihuly fan Jenny Block to make a case for Chihuly in this context. Using our "Change My Mind" feature below, you'll be able to weigh her opinion against those of our commenters who think otherwise, and decide for yourself who wins out. Click through, and as always, let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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