Chihuly Collection Debuts New Space
All images by Daniel Veintimilla for Creative Pinellas
Overseers of the Chihuly Collection commemorated a sparkly debut in their new Central Avenue home last weekend.
The glass-art menagerie crafted by internationally renowned artist Dale Chihuly — whose installations appear in Las Vegas’ Bellagio resort and around the world — elicited oohs and ahhs during a private VIP party Friday night and a block party on Saturday.
Owned by the Morean Arts Center, the contemporary sleek white structure at 720 Central Avenue offers a space that’s larger than the pieces’ previous home on Beach Drive. It includes an outdoor garden space for a total of 15,000 square feet.
The space’s meandering layout and dim lighting create a transcendent experience. Together with soft music and otherworldly shapes, they conspire for a tranquil escape from everyday stresses.
“We are really amazed,” said visitor Kathy Orahoske, who attended the Collection’s opening day with husband Dennis. The couple on vacation from Cambridge, Ohio, said they were introduced to the artist’s work via an exhibit at the Franklin Park Conservatory.
Docent Martie Allen explained that Chihuly designed the displays so visitors could see the details of the pieces up close — much unlike gazing above at Chihuly’s chandelier-like sculptures that appear in other spaces.
Why did the collection move? To drive traffic and additional revenue to support the Morean Arts Center’s education and exhibition programming, Aldrich says. The new location will also offer classes and an outdoor space for weddings, corporate parties and event rentals. It’s due to open January 2017.
“This move also confirms our dedication to the continued revival of the downtown area, in particular the Central Arts District,” says the Morean’s press statement, adding that the collection will be an anchor institution, driving traffic and additional resources to an already established arts district.
All of the pieces previously housed on Beach Avenue are on display at the new space, says Morean spokesperson Sarah Aldrich, adding that Chihuly and his team were involved in all aspects of the design and plans for the relocation of the Collection — just as he was with the design of the original gallery on Beach Drive.
The collection is now headed by Executive Director Andy Schlauch, who previously worked at Chihuly Studio in Seattle as a liaison between Chihuly and the galleries representing the artist.
Schlauch is in charge of the display and operation of the collection as well as the Morean Glass Studio & Hot Shop.
According the Morean, he assisted with everything from show design and sales to marketing and public relations. Schlauch frequently toured VIPs through Chihuly’s Boathouse studio and hot shop, sharing information about the artist, his artistic process and works of art.
“Schlauch brings more than 12 years of experience in the arts to his role at the Collection, including having worked as the Interim Director of the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve in Cleveland,” the Center’s press kit says.
The contemporary white structure housing The Chihuly Collection joins two other Morean facilities — the main building on 719 Central Avenue, which has both gallery and educational spaces, and the Morean Center for Clay, a prominent sculpture studio housed in a historic train station depot at 420 22nd St S, St. Petersburg.
Chihuly has said in the past that he teamed up with Morean because he valued the Morean Arts Center to teach artists of all levels and wanted to be part of the institution’s educational outreach.
For more information, visit moreanartscenter.org.