Wednesday, November 07, 2007


In today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, it was announced that the Chihuly exhibit at the Phipps Conservatory has been extended through February 24, 2008. Mr. Chihuly has had his problems recently, mainly stemming from his popularity. Is he now as mainstream and as open to ridicule as Thomas Kinkade is? Is it time for parody of Mr. Chihuly as it has been for a while with Mr. Kinkade?

From this article, "While some of Chihuly's work is undeniably gorgeous (especially when presented in expertly lit photographs), his detractors call it mere decoration that attracts the eyes without engaging the mind.

Chihuly's work is as vacuous as it is popular, they say, comparable to the work of another successful Seattleite, Kenny G. "It's craft, not art," is a common refrain.

"It's bullshit art," says Art Garcia, a Seattle painter. "If you've seen one you've seen 'em all.

Sour grapes? Not for this observer of art to say. Was the exhibit repetitive at the Phipps? Yes, at times it was. For me, at least, the setting made the art and the art made the setting. I've seen Mr. Chihuly's work at some art museums and found them, after a while, boring. However, in the horticultural setting of the Phipps, the work looked stunning and both natural and unnatural, depending on the placement of the glass pieces. I certainly would not go as far as to compare Mr. Chihuly with Mr. G., Kenny. That is too cruel, even for an Eastern Seaboard ex-New Jerseyite.

(Thanks to That One Blog for the "Kinkade" picture)

I'd blogged about a visit there back in September. Here's a Flickr set of photos from the exhibit.

Find any excuse to get to Pittsburgh to enjoy the city and catch the Phipps/Chihuly exhibit. You may end up coming home and re-arranging all those different colored beer bottles strewn in your backyard to a Thomas Kinkade version of a Chihuly garden.

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Why is an artist so pleasingly capable of gentle (and not so gentle) irony held to the same ridicule as the irony-averse Kinkaid? I just don't get it.
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