Ted Simons: Tonight we make a return visit to desert botanical garden and the stunning glass artwork of Dale Chihuly. Producer Christina Estes and photographer Juan Magana show us how glass and the desert come together at Papago Park.
Christina Estes: It's called the sapphire star, more than 700 blue to clear spires began the Chihuly in the garden exhibit.
Elaine McGinn: The colors are so vibrant. There's no other artist in glass doing what Dale is doing.
Christina Estes: What he's doing in Phoenix is generating OOHs, AAHs, and questions.
Visitor: What's a beluga?
Visitor: I guess they kind of look like whales.
Visitor: do you think it's a fish --
Christina Estes: Each piece from this chandelier to the scarlet and yellow icicle tower is created by a team of glass blowers with final approval coming from Dale Chihuly.
Elaine McGinn: He does probably the most successful artist to exhibit in gardens around the world. But there's nowhere that he has exhibited where he has our plant collection, beautiful lights the desert has and the wonderful vistas and backdrops. It's just a different space for him to see his work.
Christina Estes: And that's why Phoenix is the only garden to host two Chihuly exhibits. The first was in 2008.
Elaine McGinn: We had over a half million people visit in six months, a record for us.
Christina Estes: This exhibit features 21 installations spread across 55 acres.
Elaine McGinn: Signature in every show I have ever seen whether it's fine art or garden is a boat. He's a collector of boats. He collects many, many things. One thing are these antique wooden boats. This was a tender. This dates back to the 1800s. They are quite fragile and he loves to put what he calls the MILLEFIORE, wonderful shapes and colors of glass into the boat.
Christina Estes: For more than a year they worked to pick the best spot. Moving the artwork from Chihuly's studio in Seattle to a canvas in the desert took patience.
Elaine McGinn: The glass came in six tractor-trailer trucks over the cows of three days. They come in hundreds of boxes, each containing pieces of each of the installations. Chihuly sends a team of 12 down to help. They actually do the physical installation itself. It took us about two weeks to get it all installed. The sun was the largest installation. It took the longest to install, about three and a half days, too a team of five scholars. It has 2,000 pieces of glass.
Christina Estes: Some colors and shapes are so striking you can't miss them like these yellow herons.
Elaine McGinn: Very graceful. They are sitting in the earth among herbs. As you're looking at the piece you're smelling lavender and thyme. There's the chocolate flower. There's this wonderful sensory experience.
Christina Estes: Other pieces blend in so well you might mistake them for desert plants.
Elaine McGinn: You could stand here for ten minutes and watch people walk right by it.
Christina Estes: But when the sun goes down, she says every piece becomes a star.
Elaine McGinn: At night it's a completely different show. All the sculptures are lit and we have going up the garden Butte we have neon panels.
Christina Estes: Keeping all this glass shiny requires the white glove treatment. It takes about ten hours each week.
Christina Estes: The best thing I hear a lot is wow. Look at. That they really love that. For us, we are about being the garden. To have visitors come in and say, look at that, and look at that plant. That is really cool, or I hear often just walking around, I didn't know this place was here. I didn't know how beautiful the desert could be.
Ted Simons: The exhibit runs through May 18. Advance reservations are recommended.