Dale Chihuly, glass artist extraordinaire, and the Shaw gardens, otherwise known as the Missouri Botanical Gardens – amazing confluence of sinuous movement in glass and nature in all her glory! Even before one enters the Ridgeway Visitor Center, a huge centerpiece of writhing glass, that resolves into almost calla lily like shapes at the top, can be seen from the outside.
Close by is another set of Chihuly pieces; the “onions” as they are fondly called, are blown glass pieces that float on a pond amidst water lilies and three statues set on towering pillars.
The walk takes us through the bluebell park, a serene setting that houses Mr. Shaw’s remains in a small mausoleum with stained glass windows. Walking further one reaches the extensive Japanese gardens set around a large lake, and complete with pagodas, wood bridges and a small pond full of colorful koi clamoring for food.
As one circles back to the beginning, another place worth stopping at is the urban garden. There are enormous gourds that hang from a trellis, and splashes of color brighten the space.
There is a final Chihuly sculpture, a matched pair actually, that adorns two sets of gates, a riot of golden yellow swirls and curlicues that glow in the sunlight.
Of course as one exits, the sculpture in the Ridgeway center can be seen close up, gloriously complex with a subtle blend of white, sky blue and cobalt.
I first saw Mr. Chihuly’s work at the Monteray Bay aquarium, where his glass “jellies” vied for attention amongst the jellyfish from the ocean. Then there was an enormous sunburst sculpture at the entrance of the DeYoung museum. On further investigation one can find him everywhere – including in the Rotunda at the Victoria and Albert museum in London!