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Dale Chihuly’s Glasswork Leads First-Ever Garden Exhibit at Asheville’s Historic Biltmore

By Matthew Phenix

May 30, 2018

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Dale Chihuly’s 14-foot-tall “Sole d’Oro” is the centerpiece of the Biltmore installation.

Courtesy of the Biltmore Estate

Dale Chihuly’s 14-foot-tall “Sole d’Oro” is the centerpiece of the Biltmore installation.

The Seattle-based artist’s al fresco summer show at the North Carolina landmark runs through October 7.

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Proof that the grand Biltmore Estate’s artistic ambitions are bigger than its (admittedly amazing) holiday decorations, the North Carolina landmark, whose French Renaissance–style château opened in 1895 as the country home of George W. Vanderbilt, has opened its 8,000 acres to the Seattle-based artist Dale Chihuly. He has dotted the landscape with his signature large-scale glass sculptures. The al fresco show marks the first art exhibition held on the Asheville estate’s expansive greenery. The layout of  the Biltmore grounds was done by the prolific landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted, who counted among his accomplishments Central and Prospect parks in New York City, Jackson Park in Chicago, and Boston’s 1,100-acre “Emerald Necklace.”

It’s safe to assume that George Vanderbilt would approve of the Chihuly installation; George assembled an impressive art collection, says Biltmore chief curator Darren Poupore, which included works by Renoir, Monet, Durer, and Maufra. He also commissioned portraits of family and friends from some of the most prominent artists in the United States, including John Singer Sargent and James McNeill Whistler.

Chief curator Darren Poupore added this in his email to me about GWV's collection: This (collection) included his greatest passion- collecting etchings, engravings, and other types of prints- most notably etchings by Rembrandt and woodcut prints by Durer. Vanderbilt was most known for the Rembrandt and Durer print collections in collecting circles at the time. He also commissioned Sargent and Whistler to paint select family portraits, and he also acquired some impressionist and post-impressionist works of art (Renoir, Monet, Whistler, and Maufra).

Daytime access to the Chihuly show is included with admission, but the Biltmore turns on the lights during reservation-only evenings, when the artist’s illuminated glassworks glow in the Great Smoky Mountains twilight. Chihuly Nights events are offered most Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through the first week of October.

Chihuly at Biltmore runs through October 7. Daytime or evening admission for adults, which includes the run of the estate and a self-guided tour of the 250-room mansion, starts at $57 per person; daytime tickets for kids 16 and under are free through September 3, $28.50 thereafter. Daytime ticket-holders can upgrade to a Chihuly Nights ticket for $25 per person.

On selected evenings, the Biltmore Estate turns on the lights for Chihuly Nights.
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