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Museum Opens With Chiculy Glassworks

Architect Ron Tan couldn’t get flamboyant with his design for the Jundt Art Center and Museum, so Dale Chihuly will have to do the honors.

Chihuly has been described as the greatest glass artist of the 20th century as well as a genius at self-promotion.

The exotic, colorful creations coming out of his Seattle waterfront studio inspire adjectives ranging from “flamboyant” and “sensual” to “challenging” and “vulgar.”

Approximately 75 of his popular Sea Forms, Baskets, Niijima Floats, Persians and Macchia, along with 25 drawings, will go on display in Gonzaga University’s new Jundt Art Museum this Friday and continue through Dec. 15.

An 800-piece Chihuly chandelier has been installed in the museum lounge as part of Gonzaga’s permanent collection.

The artist will deliver a free public lecture in GU’s Martin Centre at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 9.

Chihuly, 54, a native of Tacoma, was only the third American ever to mount a solo show at the Louvre. His work is eagerly collected by galleries and museums throughout the world, and last year President Clinton took Chihuly’s color-streaked baskets and abstract sculptures to Europe as gifts for Queen Elizabeth II, France’s President Mitterrand and others.

Chihuly is credited with elevating modern blown glass to the level of fine art, yet he’s done almost no blowing himself since 1976, when a life-threatening automobile accident left him blind in one eye.

Since then, Chihuly has worked with a fluid team of apprentices, who shape the glass to his spontaneously sketched specifications.

“I rely heavily on the intuition of my craftsmen,” he told Smithsonian magazine several years ago. “It would be a mistake to try to exert too much control… . Chance is a crucial ingredient - the unpredictability of the glass, of the colorist, of the gaffers.

“My job is to be a catalyst - to set the wheels in motion, keep the energy high and let things happen.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo

Tags: biography