The first day of our anniversary celebration weekend was taken up with an evening visit to the New York Botanical Garden, to see the first exhibit of Dale Chihuly’s glass extravaganza in ten years. We thought it would be especially fun to attend one of the Chihuly Nights, the after-dark show where all the glass is lit up. And wow, was it ever fantastic!
If you are going to the Botanical Garden from Manhattan, I recommend taking the Metro North from Grand Central Station. It lets you off literally across the street from the entrances to the gardens. There is a subway stop that supposedly goes to the gardens, but after you leave the train, you have to walk about a mile to get to the gardens. No bueno.
The first Chihuly we encountered after entering the park was the brilliant Sapphire Star. As you can see, the sun had not yet set – but that didn’t really matter – it is so brilliant that even in the late afternoon sun, it still sparkled.
We headed to the visitor center to have a bite to eat (killing time while we waited for it to get dark), and along the way, we encountered the Red Reeds on Logs. We would pass by these again after dark (stay tuned).
Just past the Red Reeds, we encountered some of the evening’s entertainment, the Alice Farley Dance Theater – two costumed dancers walking on stilts and generally perplexing and delighting everyone nearby.
At the visitors center, three of Chihuly’s works, the Chandeliers, were positioned overhead. I love these kinds of pieces – they look like rainbow candy and flowers and some sort of snakes all at the same time.
The food available was the one disappointment of the event. I had a hot dog and Therese waited in a very long line to get a couple of tacos that were ok. Actually there were long lines to get anything, and early in the evening, many of the things listed on the menus were already sold out – but you didn’t know that until you got to the cashier to place your order. Poorly planned.
Luckily, while you were waiting in line to order your food, the Mandingo Ambassadors were playing nearby, entertaining the crowd with their energetic African-tinged jazz.
By the time we finished eating, darkness had begun to fall. As you can see, the Red Reeds were much more magical after dark. We passed by them on our way to the Float Boat. This boat full of colorful huge glass balls was part of the exhibit ten years ago, but then it was on display near the conservatory. This time it had a lake and section of the park pretty much all to itself. Definitely one of the highlights of the collection for me.
After the Float Boat, we headed to the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, which is the heart of the garden, and the center of the greatest number of pieces in this exhibit.
Out in front of the conservatory, it all started in splendid fashion with the Citron Sun. Wow!
Just inside the conservatory lay the Persian Pond and Fiori. The blue and white ‘fiori’ reminded me so much of flamingos.
Next were the White Belugas, which reminded me of large Japanese daikon radishes.
A whole room of the conservatory was dedicated to the Macchia Forest. I would love to have one of these incredible ‘macchia’ (shrubs) to put on a coffee table. Not that I could afford it…
From there we stepped into the courtyard-like outdoor area near the conservatory. Here were several incredible pieces. First was the Scarlet and Yellow Icicle Tower.
Next was another highlight of the exhibit for me, the Neon 206. It was next to one of the conservatory buildings and a lake, so its many colors were reflected in the lake, where some ducks were swimming.
Back inside the conservastory, in the next building we encountered the White Tower, to me a more subtle (or humble) relative to the spectacular Yellow and Scarlet tower.
Finally, there was another long slender building with ‘Fiori’ (flowers) along each side of its walkway. These were not my favorite pieces, but I do admit that they are probably the most successful in terms of blending in with the conservatory’s plants.
We loved the conservatory so much that we went through its buildings a second time. I had to pause and take another long look at the Neon 206 one more time. We left the Botanical Gardens that evening with our minds ablaze, so thankful to have once again experienced Mr. Chihuly’s artistry in the incomparable setting of the gardens!