Glassblowing is the extreme sport of the art world. Area 253 offers beginning, intermediate... More
Tacoma: The nexus of studio glass art
Two museums with world-class studio-glass art collections
Cappy Thompson (born Alexandria, Virginia, 1952) I Receive a Great Blessing from the Sun and the Moon: I Will Be an Artist and Walk the Path of Beauty, 1995 Blown glass and enamels 17 x 14 1/2 x 14 1/2 inches Tacoma Art Museum, Gift of Anne Gould Hauberg, 2013.12.15
Hidden in Plain Sight
A vintage movie marquee – The marquee at the historic Blue Mouse Theatre in the Proctor District features blue neon mice that when lit, appear to be scurrying across the sign. While not something that would normally catch the eye, these are actually some of Dale Chihuly’s first work with neon glass.
A university study room – The unassuming silent study room in the Snoqualmie Library on the University of Washington – Tacoma campus houses Chinook Red Chandelier – a 19-foot, 1,500-lb. centerpiece hanging from the ceiling.
A federal courthouse – While now a federal courthouse, Union Station began life in 1911 as a major train station built by the same architects that designed Grand Central in New York. An example of the Beaux-Arts design popular at the turn of the century, the station was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 and converted to a federal courthouse in 1992. It now contains five separate installations by Dale Chihuly: one on each interior wall, and a chandelier in the center. It’s open to the public (bring your ID, since it’s a federal building), and free to tour.
A bar – The Swiss Restaurant and Pub has the distinction of being the only bar in the world with Dale Chihuly original work on display. And it’s not just his eight Venetian vases behind the bar – there’s also one of his paintings, if you know where to look. The Swiss was the regular hangout for Chihuly and his team when they were installing the works at Union Station, and as they wrapped up that project, he offered these pieces on permanent loan to the owners of the bar.
A college dorm – Dale Chihuly is a University of Puget Sound alum (class of 1963), and has not forgotten his alma mater. The Chihuly Window of Wyatt Hall is meant to evoke images of ivy crawling up the nearby buildings in the fall and was donated in honor of his favorite professor.
Channel your inner Chihuly
Stay overnight among the artwork
- The Museum of Glass and Tacoma Art Museum both have gift shops with glass art available. At the Museum of Glass, you can even by Chihuly originals!
- Tacoma Glassblowing Studio, mentioned above, also has an attached store with vases, medallions, platters and bowls.
- Hilltop Artists is a local arts organization co-founded by Dale Chihuly that has been transforming the lives of youth through the power of art. Their glass-art shop has big sales twice a year, but always offers magnificent student artwork that supports a worthy cause.
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