As part of Cheekwood’s 50th anniversary, the indoor and outdoor artistic glass exhibition Chihuly at Cheekwood and Chihuly Nights has been taking place from May 25 – October 29, 2010 on the Cheekwood estate in Nashville. One of Nashville’s noteworthy families since the 1880s is the Cheek family. Growing up in Nashville, I had the pleasure of attending church and school with members of the Cheek family.
The family fortune of the Cheeks of Cheekwood was earned in small part by founding a wholesale grocery business and in large part by investing in a cousin’s special blend of coffee, the coffee that became known for the hotel that carried it – the Maxwell House in Nashville. Leslie and Mabel Cheek purchased 100 acres of land to build a country estate in West Nashville, and they moved into their new mansion in January 1933. In the 1950s the estate was donated as a site for a new botanical garden and art museum. Cheekwood opened to the public as a 55-acre botanical garden and art museum in 1960. Since then Cheekwood has served as one of the artistic and cultural centers of Nashville.
It is only fitting that as part of its 50th anniversary celebration, Cheekwood has hosted the unique and colorful Chihuly at Cheekwood and Chihuly Nights exhibit. Dale Chihuly’s glass sculptures explore color, line, and assemblage, and plants and nature are recurring themes in Chihuly’s work. Through the end of October, guests can take a tour of Cheekwood’s living exhibitions by exploring the many gardens on the grounds with an added bonus — colorful light installations in fabulous shapes artistically arranged among the flowers, plants and herbs. From the blazing golden Saffron Tower and Chihuly Sun to the mystical Mille Fiori, Silver Purple Herons and Blue Marlins, the grounds of Cheekwood have become a place of mystery and magic.
The tour begins at the Botanic Hall, so most visitors are greeted by the Saffron Tower and Cattails which catch the light during the day, and glow brightly with their own light at night. Guests who start their walk at the Cheekwood mansion and Art Museum are welcomed by Chihuly’s Sun. Most of the Cheekwood gardens have at least one installation, but Cheekwood’s Reflecting Pool is covered with Chihuly’s Mille Fiori upon which the classical statues at each end gaze in placid satisfaction.
Next to Cheekwood’s Reflecting Pool lies the Grotto, which is full of Chihuly’s peaceful Blue Herons. While admiring the tranquil sight, the guests in my group noticed a small evergreen tree shaking quite violently. Soon the culprits, two playful raccoons, emerged from the green branches to admire the exotic blue lights, before darting back in for another game of chase. This made the night even more magical — all kinds of wonders can be seen at Chihuly Nights. For picture from Chihuly at Cheekwood and Chihuly Nights click the photo above or see the complete photo gallery at Chihuly at Cheekwood & Chihuly Nights, Nashville, TN – Exclusive Photos.
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