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Under Construction: Chihuly at the Dallas Arboretum

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I was afraid visiting the Dallas Arboretum before their upcoming Chihuly exhibit was completely installed would be like following the yellow brick road only to end up seeing the man behind the curtain.

Luckily that didn't turn out to be the case at all. Watching the show being installed only served to deepen my admiration for Chihuly's work. Watching his team create was a bit like watching a master chef. A bit of this here and a pinch of that there and voila! a delicious masterpiece.

Of course, getting Chihuly's work to the Dallas Arboretum was anything but snappy. The exhibit has been in talks for ten years and in full-on planning stages for two. Now the garden is blooming with new flowers chosen specifically for this installation; armatures crafted to support the sculptures; and glorious volumes of glass in shapes and colors that look to be from a world of sci-fi cinema.

Sculptures are being installed in more than 15 locations throughout the 66-acre grounds, and visitors can see them from May 5 -- Nov. 5, 2012. During designated "Chihuly Nights," the sculptures will be dramatically lit and paired with a number of dining options and musical concerts.

Along with the Dallas Arboretum staff and Chihuly installers, the show also requires tens of thousands of volunteer hours to both get the exhibition up and run it. Whenever the installation is open a volunteer will be posted at each piece to protect and answer questions about it -- even in the Dallas, August heat.

One thing you can't question is Dallasites commitment to art, to Chihuly and to the Arboretum.

And rightly so, "Chihuly at the Dallas Arboretum" is big shakes. It's the first of its kind in the five state region of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas. Three of the pieces in the show have never been seen before. (In fact, they don't even have names yet!) Plus, each time Chihuly's installations appear, they are newly assembled and thus have never been seen in the exact same formation before.

I'm anxious to see the installation in its entirety. I love the way the pieces conspire with the sun and the flowers and the water and the sky to become more than themselves. I imagine them late at night slipping from the armatures and meeting one another in the gardens to tangle and talk and twirl.

Visit www.dallasarboretum.org for schedules and admission prices.

All photos by Jenny Block.

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Under Construction: Chihuly at the Dallas Arboretum
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