OKLAHOMA CITY – A new exhibition of work by pioneering artist Dale Chihuly (American, b. 1941) will open on June 18 at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art (OKCMOA). “Chihuly Then and Now: The Collection at Twenty” features new works on loan from Chihuly Studio in Seattle, as well as visitor favorites from OKCMOA’s permanent collection. This original exhibition, featuring five decades of glass and painting, will tell a comprehensive story of Chihuly’s groundbreaking career. “Chihuly Then and Now” is presented by Glenna and Richard Tanenbaum. 

“I quite enjoyed the process of revisiting the collection held by OKCMOA and adding new installations,” said artist Dale Chihuly. “A lot can happen in 20 years, and I can’t wait to see how visitors respond to newer work such as ‘Chihuly Merletto,’ ‘Rotolo’ and ‘Glass on Glass’ – none of which have been previously shown in Oklahoma City.”  

“Hundreds of thousands of visitors have been immersed in the beauty of Chihuly artwork at OKCMOA over the past two decades," said Michael Anderson, Ph.D., OKCMOA President and CEO. “I am thrilled to introduce this dynamic new take on our collection to our community and to continue our focus on studio glass. ‘Chihuly Then and Now’ will showcase Chihuly’s extensive career and highlight his status as a major force in the studio glass movement in the United States. We thank Chihuly Studio and Glenna and Richard Tanenbaum for their generous support for this exhibition.” 

OKCMOA curator Catherine Shotick added, “For more than five decades, Dale Chihuly’s artwork has captured our imaginations. Often drawing inspiration from nature, Chihuly plays with bold colors, glowing light, and organic forms to create unique experiences. He is continually pushing the boundaries of glass as an artistic medium, producing objects unlike anything created in glass before.” 

“Chihuly Then and Now” includes works not currently in OKCMOA’s collection, such as: 

  • “Navajo Blanket Cylinders” - In his first major glass series, Chihuly captured the colors and patterns of woven Navajo blankets with glass. 
  • “Soft Cylinders” – “Soft Cylinders” series combines the aesthetics of “Navajo Blanket Cylinders” with the more relaxed forms and gentle curves of the “Baskets.” 
  • “Venetians” - The “Venetians” have a traditional vase-like central form with exuberant decorative attachments, such as coils and twisted ribbons.  
  • “Rotolo” - Started in 2013, the heavy and complex “Rotolo” (Italian for “coil”) sculptures evolved from the spiraling forms found in Chihuly’s “Venetians.”  
  • “Glass on Glass” - Chihuly’s “Glass on Glass” works are the culmination of more than 50-years of experiments in light, space, and form, the illuminated enamel paintings on glass are akin to his blown glass works, imparting a multidimensional experience.  
  • “Chihuly Merletto” - Chihuly’s latest body of work was inspired by the ancient Venetian technique called “merletto” (Italian for lace) in which white cane is used to create lace-like patterns. Chihuly reinterpreted the traditional “merletto” process, elegantly integrating opaque black-and-white cane within his “Basket” forms, mimicking the soft forms and movement of lace. 

“Chihuly continues to produce new work and stretch the boundaries of what glass can do, which is why it is critical to continue to refresh what we have on view,” said Shotick. “For example, the ‘Rotolo’ series evolved from the spiraling and exuberant forms found in the earlier ‘Venetian’ series. ‘Rotolo’ are heavy, complex, and delicate works that can require up to 17 team members working in unison for hours to create. I think visitors will really enjoy seeing these new works in the context of their favorites.”  

In addition to the loaned work listed above, “Chihuly Then and Now” will feature visitor favorites from OKCMOA’s collection including “Reeds,” “Float and Ikebana Boats” and a redesigned “Persian Ceiling” installation. The exhibition will offer visitors a chance to walk through Chihuly’s extensive career and gain insight into his techniques and processes. 

Additional support for the exhibition is provided by Caroline and Guy Patton, Oklahoma Humanities, Meg Salyer, J. Edward Barth, and Catherine and John Armitage. Additional sponsorships for this exhibition are available. Please contact Kimberley Worrell at 405-278-8227 for more information.  

Visitors can see the Museum’s current Chihuly exhibition, “Dale Chihuly: Magic & Light,” through March 27, 2022.