Cthulhu Garden and Glass

Terror from the Deep @ Chihuly Gardens and Glass, Seattle, Washington

Looking around, one can tell that, yes, this is definitely a garden, but damned if this isn’t the twisted greenhouse of Cthulhu himself.

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Nestled in an impressive display of the wonders that await visitors, the glowing sign above the door reads “Chihuly Garden and Glass.” But it appears as though the primal octopus-faced god of the ocean has transitioned into a cushy retirement and taken up a hobby, as retirees are want to do. As part of his cover story, the Ancient One has taken up glassblowing and attained worldwide success under the unimaginative moniker of Dale Chihuly. His masquerading as a mortal must be one of those “I want to be recognized for my craft, rather than my name” sort of things celebrities sometimes pull.

A violent car accident cost him the use of one of his eyes, but despite his status as a master of glass, he ironically opts to rock a patch instead of a glass surrogate. It only helps cement the Dark Lord of the Sea connection.

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A later recreational accident (at sea, no less!) also seriously injured one of his arms, leaving him less able to function as a glassblower. From then on, the salty sea dog delegated the work to his crew and let them do all the hard work while he assumed the role of captain and made all of the design decisions. A short video on repeat in the museum shows him at work, and he is quite fascinating to watch. Chihuly is very much an architect of sorts, except one whose creations bend the very fabric of glass itself.

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Chihuly’s training and travels have spanned the entire globe; he and his works have covered more nautical miles than the East India Company. Today his exhibits still have permanent installations in locations such as Italy and Las Vegas, and we’re pretty sure we saw one at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, but we don’t know if that one is genuine.

He’s also done some textile work.

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Chihuly has also done some less-abstract glassblowing work. There are a lot of ceramics on display, as well as some glass sculptures. All of undersea creatures, of course.

One interesting exhibit he created once involved a piece hanging from the underside of the bridge. When confronted with the logistical issue of transporting the glass bulbs down the river to the bridge, Chihuly just tossed the glass in the river and floated it downstream to his waiting crew. The process itself spawned the idea for an exhibit currently on display.

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If this sea dog hasn’t spent a lifetime fighting pirates and drinking rum on the open sea, then god knows where he draws his inspiration from. Every one of the exhibits in the Chihuly garden is an exquisitely beautiful terror from the deep.

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At times, the museum felt less like a gallery and more like an aquarium. There was definitely an aquatic theme to the works on display at the Chihuly Garden, though this may just be a seasonal thing– the video shows us that when he does installations, they tend to take on the theme of their location.

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One fascinating setup he created involved creating plant-like glass pieces to be literally “planted” alongside actual plants in a greenhouse. That particular setup was not on display at the museum (if I recall correctly, it’s located at his home) but he did have something similar at the museum.

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We visited the Chihuly Garden more or less on a whim. It’s located near the Denny Triangle, which is in the shadow of the Space Needle. If you are a King County resident, you get a discount on admission. Students and tourists pay full price.

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The site has been the subject of a lot of controversy. Before its construction, residents wanted the land (the site of a defunct amusement park) to be used as public green space. Seattle already has a lot of parks, and parks don’t generate tax revenue (especially on prime real estate), so the shrine to the Great Old One was constructed without further delay.

 

 

 

 

Stranger Danger

A lady traveler with a passion for passion.

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