"Floatboat" by Dale Chihuly, photo by Scott Mitchell Lean
"Morean Mille Fiori," by Dale Chihuly, photo by Terry Rishel
Morean chandeliers, by Dale Chihuly, photo by Terry Rishel
Architectural drawing by architect Alberto Alfonso
Chandeliers by Dale Chihuly, photo by Scott Mitchell Leen
Illuminating Glass, Darkly
Legendary glass artist Dale Chihuly and architect Alberto Alfonso unveil a new home for the Chihuly Collection at the Morean Arts Center
By Anastasia Kruglyashova
A magical touch of a virtuoso; the skill of a medieval artisan; a poise of a true master having fully transformed the essence of the contemporary art glass movement – the world celebrated glass artist and sculptor Dale Chihuly possess all that, his work – an embodiment of endless magnificent epithets. This July, for the first time in history of the artist’s work, an extensive collection of Chihuly’s glass masterpieces has met majestic acclaim, being permanently brought under one roof at 400 Beach Drive in St Petersburg, FL, under the guidance of the Morean Arts Center. The space devoted to the collection – originally an uninhabited 10,000 square feet concrete shell – has been completely redesigned and reconstructed by the award-winning architect Alberto Alfonso specifically for Chihuly’s collection (The
While it took five years and several attempts for the enterprise to be realized, with the collaborative brainchild of Alfonso and Chihuly – the two geniuses – the project was destined for the long-expected success this year. Alfonso’s innovative approach towards space design based on redefinition of architectural methods to resourcefully accent the activities within them proved crucial when it faced Chihuly’s artwork – an exposition of the artist’s true delight and fascination for the glass blowing tradition originating in early Renaissance Venice, resulting in the artist’s glass wonders so unique, their beauty seems almost unattainable at times. Alfonso’s creation of the 12 individual galleries, flowing and curving freely in response to the artist’s work philosophy, compressing and expanding at unexpected angles, exposes the artwork via deep portals, considering every texture and reflection of the glass works that “…exist on a pathway of apertures, anticipatory views, kaleidoscopic reflections of fluid light, and undulating curves”, the press release elaborates on the essence of the project. The wavy perimeter of the Chandelier Gallery with the voluptuous folds cloaking in, pursues the silhouette of the ripply Alvar Alto vase turned upside down. The Chandelier Gallery is “the central piazza, where all roads converge. Portals pierce the curtain revealing past dreams and ones to come”, the architect Alfonso explains, having truly excelled at creating the space that is subtle and ambitious without overpowering the artwork, but instead interflowing organically with it. A true flight of fantasy, intricate oversized chandeliers of elaborate patterns, quaint sculptures of surprising forms and sudden splashes of bright color shades truly marvel and hypnotize the way only a fine art form is capable of, complemented by the smart architectural design.
“Early in the space planning process we discovered a shared affinity for the work of Italian architect and glass artist Carlo Scarpa. This became a common thread for the materiality and presentation strategies which drove the richness of palette that includes western red cedar, aromatic cypress, Venetian plaster and raw steel”, the architect states. The use of mostly natural materials that transition seamlessly opened up a wide range of interpretations for the works’ scintillation to be absorbed or reflected. The Float Boat is a gallery staging a lyrical moment during the Venetian Carnival at night – the boat, filled with intricately colored lustrous glass spheres of various sizes created by Chihuly, drifts leisurely down the Venetian canal that ripples upon the reflection of the spheres captured.
The project’s enormous success is largely due to the devotion and spiritual unity of both parties. “The opening of the Chihuly Collection is truly one of the proudest moments of my career,” the artist admits. “The Chihuly Collection would not be the spectacular space that it is today without the hard work, vision and dedication of my dear friend and architect Alberto Alfonso, who transformed the space into a spectacular architectural environment to showcase my work.”
For more information please visit: The Morean Arts Center