I initially had not planned to review this show. Dale Chihuly’s glass sculpture has a spectacular, seductive quality that can cause art critics to run out of adjectives, but this Arthur Roger Gallery expo is really special.
At a time when daily political news can be exhausting, this extravagant show of high-end eye candy is almost like a visual mini-vacation. That said, art and life have a co-dependent relationship, so viewers should not be surprised that Arthur Roger built a wall. Fortunately, this one has nothing to do with hapless refugees at our southern border.
“Persian Garden” (pictured) rests on the glass ceiling of a specially constructed walled passageway. An upward glance reveals a glowing world of incandescent, psychedelic, jellyfishlike forms that can beguile the eye with their lush craftsmanship.
The passage opens into a gallery where a flat, glowing blue rectangle, “Ikebana Glass on Glass Painting” (pictured, background), is one of many such “glass-on-glass” paintings that, while meticulous, require less intense group effort to produce than iconic sculptural works like “Clarion Burgundy Chandelier,” a 6-foot-wide sea anemone like an imperial Louis XIV of the seas.
In Chihuly-world, floral and undersea forms merge like creatures dredged from the depths of the imagination. If you wonder how it is done, the artist, now 77 and suffering from longstanding bipolar disorder and numerous injuries including the loss of sight in one eye, relies on teams of dedicated assistants.
This collaborative approach harks to his utopian college days as a community activist and anti-Vietnam War organizer followed by a stint at an Israeli kibbutz.
It has been a long, extraordinary run for the Takoma, Washington-born son of a coal miner. He regards his creations as being about light and couldn’t care less about what art critics think of his popular life's work.
Through June 22. Arthur Roger Gallery, 432 Julia St., (504) 522-1999; www.arthurrogergallery.com.