Destinations, North America, United States

Chasing Chihuly in Oklahoma

March 4, 2016

I am fascinated by glass.  In particular, I am dazzled by the work of American glass artist, Dale Chihuly.  When I worked in downtown Dallas, I often escaped my office and snuck across the street to sit beneath Chihuly’s Hart Window in the Dallas Museum of Art.  I am such a big fan that I once stalked the artist himself at Walmart.  (Really.  Keep reading and I will prove it.)

I’ve shared my passion for Chihuly glass with my 9 year-old niece, Peyton.  Almost 4 years ago, I took Peyton to an outdoor Chihuly exhibit at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden.  At the time, I figured that I would enjoy the glass installations while Peyton would just romp around the garden with the other kids.

She first approached the art with more than a little skepticism.

2012 Chihuly at Dallas Arboretum - purple reeds

But then, as she always does, Peyton impressed me.  Before I knew it, she had commandeered my exhibition brochure.  And she studied it.

2012 Chihuly at Dallas Arboretum - studying brochure

Then she used the maps and photographs in the brochure to give me a guided tour.

2012 Chihuly at Dallas Arboretum - yellow & red

It didn’t take long before both of us were giddy for Chihuly.

2012 Chihuly at Dallas Arboretum - yellow tower

We spent hours walking around the glass garden installations, backtracking to our favorites again and again.  I was thrilled that she enjoyed Chihuly as much as I did.

2012 Chihuly at Dallas Arboretum - boats

Or at least I believed that Peyton enjoyed Chihuly as much as I did.  That’s my excuse for the obsessive behavior I displayed a few weeks later when I bumped into Dale Chihuly at a suburban Dallas Walmart.  (Even celebrities have to pop into Walmart when they forget to pack something, right?)

I was in my car on the way out of the parking lot when I spotted him.  If I was cool, I would have let the great artist shop unmolested.  But I am clearly not cool, because I parked my car and followed him back inside.

I was fixated with the idea of getting Dale Chihuly’s autograph for Peyton.  Never having asked anyone for an autograph in my life, I wasn’t sure about the correct approach.  So I just tracked him down and cornered him in the toothpaste aisle.

2012 Chihuly at Walmart

I told you I wasn’t kidding.

To my great relief, Dale Chihuly was kind and gracious when I asked for his autograph.  I still had my photographs of Peyton at the Dallas exhibit on my phone, and Chihuly signed his name with his finger right on my screen.

2012 Chihuly autograph

Peyton was delighted with the autograph, but she was also a little horrified to hear that I followed Chihuly around Walmart.

“That’s embarrassing,” she said.

Indeed, it has taken me almost 4 years to get over the embarrassment.  But I recently decided that Peyton and I were ready for another Chihuly fix.

Last weekend, we took a road trip to check out the exhibit “Dale Chihuly: Magic & Light” at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.

Chihuly at OKCMOA - exhibit sign

From the minute we walked into the museum, we were excited about Chihuly all over again.  The stunning 55-foot Eleanor Blake Kirkpatrick Memorial Tower in the lobby atrium was only a hint of the comprehensive collection waiting for us in the 3rd floor gallery.

Chihuly at OKCMOA - Memorial Tower

Because we arrived early in the morning, Peyton and I had the gallery all to ourselves.  We circled the Float Boats full of glass flowers and orbs, remembering a similar display at the outdoor exhibit.

Chihuly at OKCMOA - Float Boats

And we lingered beneath Chihuly’s Oklahoma Persian Ceiling, mesmerized by its luminous colors.

Chihuly at OKCMOA - Persian Ceiling

Chihuly at OKCMOA - Persian Ceiling detail

After leaving the gallery, we browsed in the museum gift shop, where Peyton choose a blue and white “kiss” as her first art glass souvenir.

Chihuly at OKCMOA - glass kiss souvenir

Later that day, we wandered through Oklahoma City’s Bricktown district, compared photographs and talked about visiting Chihuly exhibits in other cities.  She’s curious and smart – and she’s growing up so fast!  I’m thrilled to share an interest with her that we can revisit when we travel together.  Where next?  Who knows.  But I hope that Peyton and I will be chasing Chihuly for many years to come.

Oklahoma City - Bricktown

If You Go

The Oklahoma City Museum of Art is open daily, except Mondays and major holidays.  415 Couch Drive, Oklahoma City, OK  73102  (405) 236-3100

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