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Posted on Wednesday, July 19th, 2006

Dave!Work was in Tacoma today, which is about an hour south of Seattle and the "TAC" in SeaTac International Airport. It's a noteworthy city to me because of one man: Dale Chihuly. I am a huge, huge fan of his stunning glass artwork, and Tacoma is a showcase for some of the best of it (probably because it's his home town).

Surprisingly, even though Chihuly is a huge backer of The Museum of Glass, his work in not a major part of the museum's relatively small gallery floor (you need to go to the Tacoma Museum of Art to see a permanent Chichuly exhibit). But you do get to see live glassblowing here and a few beautiful pieces of Chihuly art in the "Hot Spot" balcony...


Chihuly Glass

From the museum, you can walk across the "Bridge of Glass" and see even more Chihuly, including a glass ceiling that is breathtaking when the sun is shining through it...

Chihuly Glass

Once across the bridge, you can enter Union Station and see five amazing Chihuly installations in glorious open spaces...

Chihuly Glass

Chihuly Glass

Who could have ever guessed that Tacoma, Washington would end up being the "Venice of the West"?? I just consider myself lucky that such an amazing display is only three hours away from my home.

Anyway, then it was back to the airport so I could catch a quick 50-minute flight to Spokane (which is about 4-1/2 to 5 hours by car). My flight was delayed (what else is new) but I managed to catch an earlier plane. Once I arrived and picked up my rental car, I discovered something surprising with my Subaru Legacy... can somebody tell me when they started making semi-automatic cars?

Semi-Automatic Car

I call it "semi-automatic" because, while there's no clutch, you'll note that there is a "+" and "-" on the gear-box which allows you to change gears, just like a manual transmission. It's a very odd driving experience, but not bad once you get used to it.

First stop in Spokane was, of course, to eat THE BEST PIZZA IN THE WORLD at David's Pizza. I debated going out for a movie, but I've seen Pirates and Superman already, so there's not much else I want to see until Clerks II hits this weekend. Oh well. You won't hear me complaining about calling it a night and getting a few extra hours sleep.

Categories: Photography 2006, Travel 2006Click To It: Permalink


  1. I love Dale Chihuly! I live less than 20 minutes away from the Oklahoma City Museum of Art and we have a permanent display. Its breathtaking!

  2. Missy says:

    Thanks for sharing the wonderful pictures! I love working with glass and would someday love to learn glass blowing. By the way, for safety reasons some of Chihuly’s ceiling pieces are made from plastic, not glass. This reduces the weight of the piece and the risk if it falls. The glass artist that told me this said Chihuly’s so good with the plastic, most people can’t tell the difference. Thanks again!

  3. Lovely art glass! We live in Benicia, CA and have large art glass studios here. I get “seconds” from them for pennies on the dollar.

    And wasn’t that the artist that did the Disney (Devil) cruise line’s fancy overhang glass piece? It looks similar.

    ANYway, my car has the option to either be automatic or shiftronic (what Hyundai calls it.) I haven’t used the shiftronic on it because I’m a lazy git.

  4. James says:

    But you could just leave it at “drive” and drive it like an automatic right?

    Because Nissan 350zs have transmissions like that, (the dealer called it a ‘clutchless manual’) where you can have it and drive but bump it up into the gears if you wanted to be a teenager.

  5. alice says:

    the glass is simply insane (in a good way). the glass ceiling reminded me of the Bellagio’s glass ceiling lobby (I wonder if it is the same artist).

    i couldn’t drive a stick to save my transmission’s life.

  6. Mooselet says:

    What beautiful pictures. Thanks for sharing these, Dave. I’m awestruck.

  7. Brandon says:

    I was really surprised at how little glass there was in the Museum of Glass in Tacoma. I hate to say it, but I doubt I will ever go back and instead just enjoy all of the free Chihuly around town.

    Maybe my perspective has been skewed a bit becuase when I lived in New York State we went to the Corning Glass Museum and it was incredible. Definitely worth a look if you are ever in the region, maybe even worth a special trip.

  8. I can’t wait for CLERKS 2, either. Early word-of-mouth is very positive; some saying it’s even better than the first. BTW, even though LADY IN THE WATER is getting really mixed reviews, it looks like THE FOUNTAIN’s trailer will be attached to the film. As you can imagine, I’m totally frickin’ stoked!!!

  9. margalit says:

    I LOVE Dale’s work. I don’t know if you’ve ever visited my Stylehive (link off my blog) but if you have, you’ll notice that I’m a major glass whore. I love the stuff, collect the stuff, and come from a family of art glass collectors. Dale is miraculous. I think his stuff is the most beautiful glass I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen a lot of it in various museums and art shows over the years. But you wanna hear something amazing? When he was JUST starting out, in the 70’s, I bought a small piece of his for my brother for his birthday. I don’t think it cost $50 way back then. And I don’t even LIKE my brother all that much. I could kick myself every time I see it sitting on his shelves amidst all his art glass.

    Do you collect? Or just admire?

  10. Kimberly says:

    Enjoy your stay here in Spokane, temps are suppose to reach the low 100’s for the weekend. *Yay* I soooo love summertime!

  11. EDDIE says:

    Last year, I stayed at Bellagio just to watch his ceiling work every day. I was also wondering how many people in Sin City knew Dale Chihuly…Anyway I found out it was 8 million project.
    Oh, yes I would pay if I owned the Bellagio.
    Have you seen his swimming pool? Amazing!

  12. MRKisThatKid says:

    Glass blowing is great fun. I did go to see some master glass blower doing his thing when I went to Venice. Though I have to say, venetian glass is more decorative than art, it wasn’t as fun and whacked out as yours seems to be!

  13. Avitable says:

    I knew a girl who blew glass in high school.

    Except, instead of “glass”, I mean every single guy in high school.

    And instead of “blew”, I mean . . . ummm . . . well, I guess I did mean “blew”.

  14. Mocha says:

    Now it’s MY turn to be jealous of you. You took a great shot of his artwork, Dave. I know you’ve been worried about what to get me for my birthday, so I’ll take that vase with the turqoise on the inside. Now you can stop fretting about that.

    Cross it off your list.

  15. Kevin says:

    The question I have is do you need experience driving stick to become accustomed to the semi-automatic driving in this Subaru?

  16. adena says:

    This is in Tacoma?? Really??! Wow. Okay, I need to drive up that way more often.

  17. ms. sizzle says:

    (waving from seattle)

    i totally have to check out tacoma and the museums. thanks for the tip!

  18. suzanne says:

    Dave, your pictures are beautiful. Not to be a stickler (but, to be a stickler!) Dale does not actually create any of his work anymore. He paints and draws his ideas, and then his team of helpers do the rest (as far as I know). Just to be fair, glass blowing would be a complete danger to anyone with only one eye, so I guess kudos to Dale for making a s*@tload of money. Hopefully he spreads the wealth around to all of his assistants. Just call me bitter and/or jealous =)

  19. Dave2 says:

    I don’t know that I would agree with that. Dale Chihuly is absolutely the creative force behind the pieces that bear his name. He comes up with the ideas, the techniques, the materials, and the vision which drives his art. The fact that he doesn’t blow the actual glass (but instead supervises and instructs the creative process) in no way should demean the incredible pieces he creates. Chihuly glass is glass by Dale Chihuly.

    It’s like saying that a painter should be passed over for credit on his art in favor of the people who makes the paintbrushes or mix the paint… sure they are an important part of the finished product, but there is no denying where the actual credit should go. Chihuly uses glassblowers to bring his ideas to life, and has always been respectful of his team and crediting them for his success. But he’s the guy with the ideas and vision, and I have no problem giving him creator credit for that.

  20. Dave2 says:

    Frances… Ooh. I guess that I should put Oklahoma City on my list of places I need to go then!

    Missy… Odd. I had never heard that before. Kind of has me wondering how such pieces could be constructed with plastic. Are they blown just like glass?? Curious.

    Kentucky Girl… I am not familiar with the Disney Cruise Line, so I don’t know. Chihuly has a LOT of installations around the world, but there are many imitators too.

    James… I figured out that you CAN leave it in “full-automatic” if you don’t slide the shifter over.

    Alice… Chihuly did do the installation at The Bellagio. I have admired it many times… and wish I could afford to actually stay in the hotel! 🙂

    Mooselet… That’s why I’m here! 🙂

    Brandon… I completely agree that the Museum of Glass is very underwhelming. If it weren’t for the glassblowing and occasional Chihuly exhibit, I wouldn’t see much point in it.

    Brent… I’m not sure I’ll be seeing “Lady in the Water” in the theater, as it looks like a “watch on video” type film. The trailer for “Fountain” should be hitting the internet shouldn’t it?

    Margalit… Considering even small Chihuly pieces go for thousands of dollars, I’d steal it back!! 🙂

    Kimberly… I am sitting here in the lobby of my hotel watching the heatwaves run across the tops of the cars in the parking lot. And it’s not even noon! Yikes!

    Eddie… I toured the Bellagio and agree it’s amazing (the art collection is fantastic!) but could never afford to stay there in any of my trips.

    MRK… When I was in Venice I went to Murano (the “glassblowing island”) and it was pretty cool. You’re right though… most of it is “decoratively functional” as opposed to Chihuly which is solely artistic in nature.

    Avitable… I don’t know whether to congratulate you or be frightened for you. I am assuming that you were a part of “everybody in high school” so heaven only knows what toxic dangers you were exposed to!

    Mocha… Yes, well, the minute I get millions of dollars to blow on birthday gifts… start checking your mail!

    Kevin… It’s just a gimmick as far as I am concerned, and the computer does a lot of the work for you. I should probably review the car in tonight’s entry.

    Adena… It’s definitely worth a stop!

    Ms. Sizzle… As I mentioned, The Museum of Glass is not so great (except for the glassblowing and an occasional exhibit), but the Tacoma Art Museum has a pretty good Chihuly presence. And the “Bridge of Glass” and Union Station is free! 🙂

  21. Missy says:

    I was told the plastic, or polyurethane substance, is worked exactly as glass is, but I’ve never seen it done. I’d assume the working/heat temperatures and timing would be different than glass. Check here for an example. (I hope the link works, if not use the following:

    All this has made me want to go to my local library which actually has some Chihuly on display.

  22. Bre says:

    Being as obsessed with glass pieces as I am, I added that spot to the top of my travel list – lovely photos! 🙂

  23. Juli says:

    What gorgeous glass! When I was a wee little girl, a school field trip took us to a local glass manufacturer and I remember being amazed by the magic they created from glass blowing. I still have a paperweight I bought from that trip. A little ball of glassy magic to call my very own.

  24. Laurence says:

    Oh, I see that I lag behind. But I think it’s not too late to add a comment. So…
    You introduce me to Dale Chihuly’s workart. Thanks for that, Dave.
    By the way, promise me that you do not laugh (because when I tell my car’s brand name, people will laugh at me) … … I have got a “Smart” with a semi automatic transmission… Ok, ok stop laughing… I said STOP, Dave… You are making fun of me and it is embarrassing.

  25. Mia says:

    I have seen this guys work, awesome stuff. I would so drive up to see it in person, but yanno the traffic in Tacoma is enough to cause me to have a minor stroke. And really, who wants that.

  26. It should be arriving on Apple’s Trailer page some time soon. I’m really excited. (I agree about LADY…if after watching THE FOUNTAIN trailer online and I can do without seeing it on the big screen, I’ll miss LADY…M. Night needs to get back on track. He’s lost it.)

  27. RW says:

    Don’t let them get you down, Laurence, I have a MINI.

  28. Phil says:

    Hey! I could have sent you some free passes to the glass museum. (still will, if you like) They’re even good for the monthly opening parties.

  29. Come on down! I’ll treat you to Hideaway Pizza and then we can catch a Supersonics game…;-)

  30. Brandon says:

    If anybody is thinking about visiting Tacoma to see Chihuly’s work, you should go to the Tacoma Museum of Art and the Bridge, but don’t forget to visit Union Station on the other side of the bridge. The chandelier inside is incredible (although it was gone for either cleaning or another exhibit the last time I was there). From there you should also wander up to The Swiss Tavern and have a bite to eat and see their Chihulys above the bar. There are a ton of other items around town to check out if you have a chance…

  31. Laurence says:

    Thanks RW for your advice. I love your car. Before my Smart, I had got a Mini Austin, but I had to part with it with regret. But, to drive is a real pleasure with all Mini, isn’t it ?

  32. Christie says:

    If you are ever in Indianapolis the Children’s Museum just opened an amazing Chihuly installation.

  33. Kathleen says:

    thanks for posting the pics – they’re beautiful!

  34. Betty says:

    i’ve got a BMW X3 that has the option to manually shift… very handy on the Spanish “Autovia” but haven’t had to use it here in the States. Nice to have tho.

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