This October, Traver Gallery presents two extraordinary exhibitions – Chihuly by Dale Chihuly and Perspective by John Kiley. Presented side by side, these exhibitions tell an essential story of studio glass, mentorship, and excellence.
Many people think of Dale Chihuly as an artist who needs no introduction. Chihuly is a household name. We are familiar with his striking, brightly-hued sculptures and installations, having seen them in museums, botanical gardens, opera houses, and homes. We recognize his role in making the Studio Glass Movement what it is today and credit him for introducing many of us to the potential of glass as a fine art medium.
With this exhibition, we celebrate that extraordinary history and artistic legacy, presenting select exquisite works from important series: Baskets, Ikebana, Drawings, and even the very rare Pilchuck Stumps. Soulful, earthy, lyrical, luminous, and fluid – the intricate designs and unexpected textures of Dale’s sculptures invite continued contemplation. His drawings are marked with striking, expressive lines executed in a range of rich charcoal and metallic paints. Opulent hues and subtle exacting use of color and understanding of reflected and diffuse light connect each of the unique works in the show, illustrating Chihuly’s uniquely sophisticated comprehension of glass as a sculptural medium and ability to use its innate qualities to create dynamic contemporary artworks.
Alongside this jewel-box exhibition of important historical works, we present a bold new collection of sculptures by another important Pacific Northwest glass sculptor, John Kiley.
Kiley worked on Dale Chihuly’s team, assisting with many of Chihuly’s large-scale international projects. He reflects on Chihuly’s profound influence, recalling, “I worked for Chihuly from 1993-1997 and traveled with him blowing glass in Finland, Ireland, Mexico, Italy, and Japan. Dale Chihuly seems to have always understood what glass, in its essence, does well. He is a master of using its properties to create, arguably, some of the most elegant, light-capturing forms ever made with the material. Working with Dale, I learned how to let glass be what it wants to be; to set aside design based merely on skill, or decorative techniques, that are not in service of an idea. I hope my work is evocative of a common thread, gained through study and mentorship”.
Since his time as a team member at Chihuly Studio, Kiley has embraced his own artistic vernacular. He is known for his studied approach and innovative use of material, employing primary geometric forms as the architecture for his glass sculptures. Using juxtaposed colors, carved optic passageways, and fractured optic glass, he creates a separation of space and light, inviting the viewer to peer into and through the forms, which often seem to defy gravity.
With this exhibition, Kiley returns to a series of blown and cut glass forms that investigate form, color, curve, shadow, and balance. Following a few-year hiatus from creating blown works, John returned to the hot shop and his community of fellow hot-glass sculptors to realize these forms at the largest scale possible. Spheres that approach a diameter of nearly 2 feet, these new sculptures physically engage the viewer and the space they occupy. With this new exhibition, Perspective, Kiley continues to push the dynamic sculptural qualities of his work. Using glass, as mentors like Dale Chihuly have taught him, for what it wants to be, he rewards us with an opportunity to engage with these dramatic, mutable, light, and color-filled forms.
As a gallery rooted in the history of the studio glass movement and one equally committed to its future, these shows represent what we believe is essential to understanding studio glass: the dynamic relationship between mentorship and artist and glass–a material that uniquely engages light, form, color, and community. We are very proud to present these exhibitions together at Traver Gallery.