Desert Art – Chihuly’s Cattails in the Garden

Chihuly Cattails

Chihuly Cattails in the Desert Garden © 2104 Bo Mackison

I never met a color I didn’t like. ~ Dale Chihuly

Another stroll through the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona.

This time focusing on these stunning red and orange cattails – swirling, curving, shimmering in the sunlight. The individual pieces are set amongst the succulents and desert trees .

Chihuly Cattails

Curving Cattails © 2104 Bo Mackison

[I want the glass] “to appear like it came from nature—so that if someone found it on a beach or in the forest, they might think it belonged there.” ~ Dale Chihuly

Chihuly Cattails

Red Cattails, Blue Agave

As an artist, Chihuly has always been a scavenger of images and ideas. He’s known for translating forms and patterns from nature and other media into glass: the designs of Native American blankets, the undulating shapes of sea creatures, the orbs of Japanese glass floats. ~ Sheila Farr, Seattle Times

This installation of cattails inspired by the plant world are interspersed with blue agave and yucca.

The blue-green plants provide a stunning background for the brightly colored, complementary glass art. The color play is striking, and as the sun lowers in the sky, and first twilight, and finally dark appear, the gardens and art take on new expressions.

Chihuly Cattails

Chihuly Close Up © 2104 Bo Mackison

A close up of the glass show the many color varieties, even in the simplest of pieces.

Though Chihuly no longer blows his own glass — he suffered a vision loss in an accident, and then a subsequent shoulder injury in the 1970s — he closely supervises his team of nearly 100 glass blowers. When one looks at the enormity of the show, it is understandable that one man could not produce all the blown glass pieces, though it is evident that Chihuly’s artistic vision is the cohesion in the show.

The exhibit is stunning placed amidst the desert habitations. It is a place I will visit repeatedly — the show is open daily through mid-May — and I’m sure to see a different perspective with every visit.

More Chihuly: Blue Fiori Sun

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. This is so awesome! I love how the creative work of the glass and the natural plants come together in a holistic beauty. Why does this have to be so far from Iowa?!

  2. Thanks for the tour of this exhibit in the desert. Very fascinating.

  3. Spellbinding. Had things turned out differently, I would have taken in this show with you no question. The reds and blues and oranges and greens are striking together. Wow…thanks so much for sharing this with all of us!!! (over-exclamation-point-izing once again…)

  4. Stunning, Bo. I love Chihuly’s work, and would love to see this. His glass really stands out against the desert plants.

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