The Art World Works From Home: Glass-Art Impresario Dale Chihuly Is Stuck Working on Drawings and Rewatching ‘The Sopranos’

Here's how the Seattle-based artist is spending his time in isolation.

Dale Chihuly. ©Chihuly Studio. All Rights Reserved.

The art world may be on lockdown, but it certainly does not stop. During this unprecedented time, we’re checking in with art-world professionals, collectors, and artists to get a glimpse into how they are working from home.

Dale Chihuly is best known for his monumental, gravity-defying glass sculptures that rise over green lawns and suspend from high ceilings around the globe. Before his hometown of Seattle—an early hub for the virus in the United States—shut down, he was busily preparing for a major exhibition of his new, lace-inspired “Merletto” series at Seattle’s Traver Gallery (which has now been postponed to June) and a display of outdoor installations at Cheekwood Estate and Gardens in Nashville (which has been rescheduled for July).

For now, while his hot shop is closed, the artist is working on smaller, two-dimensional objects, catching up on TV, and corresponding with friends from his Seattle home. Read on for a glimpse of his day-to-day life.

 

Where is your new “office”?

I’m currently working from my home office.

Dale Chihuly's home office. Photo courtesy of Dale Chihuly.

Dale Chihuly’s home office. Photo courtesy of Dale Chihuly. ©Chihuly Studio. All Rights Reserved.

What are you working on right now (and were any projects interrupted by the lockdown)?

I’m working on an exhibition called “Chihuly Merletto” for Traver Gallery in Seattle. The exhibition opens in June. There were some projects that were interrupted, but I continue doing what I can from home.

How has your work changed now that you are doing it from home?

My hot shop is closed, so glassblowing isn’t happening right now. I’m using this time to focus on two-dimensional works.

What are you reading, both online and off?

I’m reading a book called The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero by Timothy Egan, and the New York Times.

Have you visited any good virtual exhibitions recently?

The Groninger Museum in the Netherlands is doing some good work showing exhibitions online. There’s also a great video from David Hockney’s exhibition at Annely Juda Fine Art.

Have you taken up any new hobbies?

Collecting correspondence from friends.

What is the first place you want to travel to once this is over?

Venice, Italy.

If you are feeling stuck while self-isolating, what’s your best method for getting un-stuck?

Watching movies.

What was the last TV show, movie, or YouTube video you watched?

The Wife, with Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce, directed by Björn Runge. I’m also re-watching The Sopranos.

Vincent van Gogh, <i>Cypresses</i> (1889). Photo: the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Vincent van Gogh, Cypresses (1889). Photo: the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

If you could have one famous work of art with you, what would it be?

Van Gogh’s Cypresses (1889), which is on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

What are you most looking forward to doing once social distancing has been lifted?

I look forward to having lunch with my wife, Leslie, and friends at Il Terrazzo Carmine. It’s my favorite restaurant in Seattle, and we’ve been going there for years.

Favorite recipe to cook at home?

Spaghetti alle vongole.

For inspiration, we’re sharing a recipe for this classic Italian pasta dish adapted from Bon Appétit:

  • Salt
  • Spaghetti for 2
  • Olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup dry, white wine
  • 2 pounds small clams
  • Chopped parsley
  1. Bring water to a boil and cook spaghetti until very al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking water.
  2. Over medium, heat 3 tbsp. oil in a large skillet and add garlic and cook until beginning to brown. Add red pepper flakes and wine, followed by clams and then increase the heat to high.
  3. Cover your skillet until clams open and release their juices, about 3-6 minutes. As they open, use tongs to transfer them to a large bowl.
  4. Add 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water to skillet and bring up to a boil, returning pasta to pan. Cook over high heat, tossing constantly, until pasta is cooked and has soaked up some of the sauce.
  5. Bring back the clams along with parsley, and toss to combine.

A heaping bowl of spaghetti pasta with clams. Photo by Laura La Monaca/Universal Images Group via Getty Images.


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