If you have not been to an exhibition of Chihuly glass — and it's the rare person who hasn't, but just in case — there's no question that you must get to the Clinton Presidential Center to see the three exhibits inside and the red glass reeds outside.
If you are familiar with Chihuly's work and think you've seen enough that maybe you can skip this show, you're wrong. Seeing is believing all over again, and though there are many imitators out there to dull the senses to the brightly colored blown-glass squiggle, the work at the Clinton Center — a grouping of mille fiori glass, a green and blue tower and a darkened gallery full of luminous work — wows.
The mille fiori grouping on the first floor in the Garden View room is made up of 500 pieces of glass blown into shapes that are not quite trumpet flowers, not quite birds, but whose shape and flow and positioning are a fantastic version of a garden. The glass within the glass — the patterns and color that make the stripes and edges and patches — are wondrous.
The gallery space on the third floor includes 18 tableaux of seaforms made between 1980 and 2002 accompanied by the drawings that Chihuly — injured in a car wreck and later surfing — made to show his team of glassmakers what he wanted to accomplish. Shells within shells in deeply saturated color and exquisite clear forms with scallops of translucent white are transcendent.
Asked if he'd discovered something new to make glass do, the Pilchuck Glass School co-founder said he's begun to create what he called Rocolo forms, which he described as big coils of glass, each weighing 140 pounds. It's hard to imaging something so full of light being so hefty.
At night, check out the glass reeds placed in the fountains at the entrance to the museum.
Entry to the exhibition requires a ticket to the museum, $7 for adults, $5 for college students, seniors and retired military and $3 for youth ages 6-17. The museum is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.