Fine Arts Center makes upgrades

Filed under: News |

Let there be light.

“This is the biggest thing to come to Colorado Springs in a long time,” said Daniel Vasey, director of public relations and marketing. The center’s newest acquisition is an enormous, sparkling glass chandelier by world-renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly.

The chandelier will hang in the entrance lobby, surrounded by dozens of spotlights. According to Vasey, nearly 2,000 people are expected at the members-only unveiling this evening at 7. “We needed to bring in something that would be ground-breaking for the center,” he said. The Chihuly chandelier was purchased with money provided by an anonymous donor.

Weighing about 1,300 pounds, the chandelier is 12 feet in diameter, seven feet tall and is comprised of 685 individual pieces of glass, Vasey said.

The Chihuly chandelier is just one of many changes that have taken place at the Fine Arts Center this year. The center has undergone a $250,000 restoration, which included tearing out walls to allow in more natural light. “It had been left to decay for 20 years. That’s why Mike was brought in because he’s a shaker,” Vasey said. “Mike” is Michael De Marsche, Ph.D., the center’s new president and CEO. The summer theme for the Fine Arts Center is “You’ll love what we’ve done with the place.”

Art aficionados travel all over the world to catch a glimpse of Chihuly’s glass masterpieces, and members of the Fine Arts Center staff expect Colorado Springs to become a destination for Chihuly fans in the United States and abroad. Fourteen of Chihuly’s chandeliers were on display throughout Venice, Italy, for the “Chihuly Over Venice” exhibition in 1996. His “Chihuly in the Light of Jerusalem, 2000″ exhibition at the Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem was, according to Vasey, the largest art exhibition, in terms of attendance, in history.

Although Chihuly likely will not be present at the unveiling, Thomas Hoving, director Emeritus of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, was scheduled to give a masterpiece lecture entitled “The Cool, Fiery Genius of Dale Chihuly.” The cost of the lecture is $17 for Fine Arts Center members and $20 for the public.

Hoving is famous for creating “blockbuster” museum exhibitions and is noted for designing the “King Tut” show. Hoving also was the first museum director to hold evening openings, and initiated museum advertising during his tenure at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Hoving is the author of Making the Mummies Dance, Art for Dummies and The Greatest Works of Art of Western Civilization.

Visitors to the center may also see An Exhibition by Dale Chihuly, Emerson Woelffer: Life in the Abstract, Realism and Illusion: Selections from the Taylor Museum Permanent Collection and “Art for Art’s Sake:” Modernist Works from the Taylor Museum Permanent Collection and Life in the Abstract works by Woelffer, which will be at the Fine Arts Center until August 15. Woelffer served as Head of the Fine Arts Center’s art school from 1950-1957.

An exhibition of 13 glass “baskets” by Chihuly will be shown near some of the Navajo art in the center. “The baskets were modeled to look like intricate weavings,” Vasey said. Chihuly was born in Tacoma, Wash., in 1941 and was inspired by the art of indigenous peoples in the Pacific Northwest when creating his baskets.

The Fine Arts Center also has added two other permanent acquisitions to its collection. One is Moonrise Over Hernandez, New Mexico, a silver print by Ansel Adams. The other is the acrylic on linen painting Study for a David and Goliath by Paul Cadmus.

Hot Mikado, a play based on a Gilbert and Sullivan production, will run June 17-27. “The lead female has a voice that will make you fall off your chair,” Vasey said. Performances are scheduled for Thursdays through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m. Tickets are $21 in advance for members, $23 for the public in advance and $25 at the door. Call the Fine Arts Center box office at (719) 634-5583 for more information.

- Stephanie.Cline@csbj.com