Raise a glass to Dedalus & Bloom: Dale Chihuly’s Ulysses Cylinders at Vassar

Portrait of Joyce Ulysses Cylinder, 2013 and Silvered Ulysses Cylinder by Dale Chihuly and Seaver Leslie, with glass drawings by Flora C. Mace and Joey Kirkpatrick, 2013 Coach House, Dublin Castle, Ireland, installed 2014 (courtesy of Chihuly Studio)

Portrait of Joyce Ulysses Cylinder, 2013 and Silvered Ulysses Cylinder by Dale Chihuly and Seaver Leslie, with glass drawings by Flora C. Mace and Joey Kirkpatrick, 2013 Coach House, Dublin Castle, Ireland, installed 2014 (courtesy of Chihuly Studio)

Dale Chihuly is world-renowned for his show-stopping sculptural assemblages of blown glass, usually brightly colored and often suspended like huge chandeliers in high-ceilinged spaces. If a rainbow suddenly exploded and just as suddenly froze, the result would probably resemble a Chihuly.

But early in the artist’s career, he was doing more subdued work, including a series of 44 cylinders ranging from the size of a drinking tumbler to 16 inches in height. In 2013, he revisited that collection, collaborating with painter Seaver Leslie to turn the vessels into a visual walk-through of scenes from James Joyce’s Ulysses. Artists Flora C. Mace and Joey Kirkpatrick transformed Leslie’s pen-and-ink illustrations into fragile glass-thread “drawings,” which Chihuly’s glassmaking team then fused onto the cylinders’ surfaces.

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The Ulysses Cylinders were unveiled last year at Dublin Castle, and they’re making their US premiere at an exhibition opening this Sunday, October 11 at the Frederick Ferris Thompson Memorial Library on the Vassar College campus. (The artist’s wife, Leslie Jackson Chihuly, is a Class of ’83 Vassar alumna.) It’s also the first-ever exhibition in the Hudson Valley of any of Dale Chihuly’s work. The cylinders will be mounted on pedestals and arranged to follow the timeline of Joyce’s masterwork. Also on view in the Thompson Library will be “James Joyce’s Ulysses: Text and Art,” an exhibition of editions of the novel from the college’s Special Collections illustrated by artists including Eric Gill, Henri Matisse and Robert Motherwell.

Admission to Ulysses Cylinders is free, but only 26 people will be able to view the show at one time, admitted at 30-minute intervals. Timed reservations are required and can be made at https://bit.ly/1FVonqC. For more information on the exhibition, which runs through November 22, visit https://chihuly.vassar.edu. Vassar College is located at 124 Raymond Avenue in Poughkeepsie.

 

Dale Chihuly’s Ulysses Cylinders, October 11-November 22, free/reserved, Frederick Ferris Thompson Memorial Library, Vassar College,124 Raymond Avenue, Poughkeepsie; https://chihuly.vassar.edu.

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