You might think that working in costumes is an incredibly creative outlet that requires no other creative endeavors as a theatre employee. However, nothing could be further from the truth. After hours of hand-stitching decorative trims, hemming, and repeatedly piecing together skirt fronts, backs, and sides, the monotony and grunt work requires an escape. Luckily, my artistic adventure isn’t far away after I learn that there is a Dale Chihuly exhibit at the Denver Botanic Gardens. My co-worker, Maria, joins me after her week of ventilating and styling wigs in anticipation of upcoming dress rehearsals for The Unsinkable Molly Brown has made her ready for some creative exploration. Following the twists and turns of the garden walls, it seems you can start and end just about anywhere since Chihuly’s glass sculptures are spread throughout the garden. Every turn and corner seems to have a unique display, and I begin to feel like rats in a maze uncertain of where the next turn I make will take me.Our theatrical backgrounds linger in the back of our minds. Maria and I constantly ask questions like, “Do you think Chihuly builds all of these sculptures himself or does he design them and have assistants fill in like Costume Designers and their Assistants? Did he do all of the installations or have a set-up plotted out for others to follow like a stage crew?” Looking at each set of long slender, curvy glass pieces, we understand how a display like this must be carefully orchestrated and maintained. Seeing the displays of glass bulbs and boats of glass sculptures in the ponds, I wonder how each piece remains in its spot, if it is cleaned on a daily basis, and how it is cared for in the constant afternoon rain.
Putting aside my theatrical questions, we continue to find our way though the multiple winding pathways taking us everywhere throughout the hidden corners of the garden. Most of the time I had only visited during the winters, so I’m delighted to see the gardens in the summer when everything is in bloom and full of bright vibrant colors. The bright blues, purples, reds, and oranges of the glass sculptures enhances and complements each array of vines climbing a wooden archway or fountain surrounded by lily pads and blossoming flower arrangements. One of my favorite glass sculptures is pink and white with tentacles that extend from the center column of the sculpture like snakes on Medusa‘s head. These tentacle do not turn anyone into stone, thankfully, since they are the stagnant pieces. However, they come to life as though they could move their pink and white arms and reach out and I imagine them touching the clouds in the pure blue Colorado sky. As more people crowd around this spectacle, I begin to realize my imagination is carrying me away and it’s time to return back to the pathways of the gardens and on to more displays. Uncertain of where our exact journey will be next, Maria and I walk past other visitors, ready to find our way through this maze to discover what Chihuly has in store for us next.