Dale Chihuly’s Seattle

The glass artist’s spectacular installations can be found in museums across the globe. His exhibition Beyond the Object at Halcyon Gallery runs until April 5 2014

Dale Chihuly at his Boathouse studio in Seattle
Dale Chihuly at his Boathouse studio in Seattle | Image: Jose Mandojana

We’ve lived in Seattle, in a neighbourhood called Madison Park, for about three years. I have two studios in the city and I like to fit some drawing into my weekends at the one in the Ballard district, where it is very quiet, as well as spend time with my wife, Leslie, and my son, Jackson, 15.

A Saturday might begin with breakfast at the Broadmoor Golf Club, which is beautiful. Then I’ll attend one of Jackson’s soccer games. It is now the most popular sport in Seattle and he plays for a club called Crossfire on a huge field with about a dozen games happening at once. Afterwards we’ll have lunch together, either at home or at Il Fornaio, an authentic Italian restaurant and one of our favourites.

In the afternoon, I’ll go to a museum or an art gallery, perhaps the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, about 55km away, or the Tacoma Art Museum; I alternate between the two. Tacoma is my hometown and I love going back there.

On a Saturday night, Leslie and I often go to see the Seattle Symphony Orchestra at Benaroya Hall. I like all kinds of music. The symphony once presented Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam; he played a mixture of original songs and covers on the ukulele that I particularly enjoyed.

Or we might go out for dinner at Volterra, which serves good Italian food, or MistralKitchen, where I tend to get a private room to be quiet. I like its half chicken, which is cooked sous vide, and I always order the sautéed vegetables with citrus.


On Sunday, there will usually be a VIP or a friend in town and I will take them to Chihuly Garden and Glass. The Glasshouse was inspired by La Sainte-Chapelle in Paris and The Crystal Palace in London, two of my best-loved buildings, and has a huge 100ft-long glass sculpture hanging from the ceiling. We’ll have lunch – fresh fish or whatever is in season – at the Collections Café there. Each table is inset with something personal from one of my many collections: ceramic dogs, pocketknives, inkwells, toy cars and so on. I have been accumulating bits and bobs like this since I was a boy, when I would walk along the beach at Puget Sound, on the lookout for shards of glass.   

If no one’s visiting, Leslie and I will have simple fish and chips from Ivar’s Salmon House, which is right on the water at Lake Union and has amazing views of the city.

In the afternoon, I’ll go to some of the shops I like to visit in the Pacific Galleries, an antiques mall with everything from furniture to fine art. This isn’t for window-shopping; I’ll buy all kinds of things, adding to my existing collections or starting new ones. I have one of the largest accordion collections in the world – I don’t play myself but I have always liked the way they look and sound. At the moment, I’m also very interested in stamps. There’s a table in my studio that is covered with all different kinds. Or I might browse around the second-hand bookshop The Elliott Bay Book Company, which has a great range. I’m always looking for books on my favourite artist, Van Gogh.

But one of my top things to do at the weekend is go to the cinema, usually by myself. I’ll probably go once a week, sometimes more if there are several films I want to see. I’m a big fan of both old and new cinema and I’m convinced it must have influenced my work. I especially like anything by Alfred Hitchcock.

Sunday evenings are spent at home with Jackson and Leslie – Jackson doing his homework, while I watch an old film on TCM.


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