TRAVEL THERE: CHIHULY IS ALIVE AND WELL AT THE OKLAHOMA CITY MUSEUM OF ART
We were in Oklahoma City to see Chihulys. You might say Deb and I are Chihuly Groupies. It doesn’t bother us to go a little out of our way to add a piece to our collection of Chihuly sightings. We know we are not alone.
My Love Affair with Chihuly
Though Chihuly was not unknown to me, I really didn’t pay that much attention to him until 1995 when one of his creations was added to the Dallas Museum of Art. All of Dallas became Chihuly crazy and we just haven’t gotten over it. That love affair was renewed when the Dallas Arboretum featured him throughout the garden in 2012. In my opinion, the garden has never looked as good. Were I one of those mega-rich people, I would have just bought the whole collection so it could stay here.
In my wanderings I’ve seen Chihulys in the Bellagio in Las Vegas and in the Casino at Atlantis in the Bahamas. He’s graced gardens from San Antonio TX to St. Louis MO. I saw him in a museum in Portland OR and in Flint MI. Once in California Bill and I were taking a little vacation in Palm Desert where he played one of their golf courses. While he signed up for his game, I stood awestruck looking at the chandelier. I asked just to be sure I wasn’t mistaken, but yes, a Chihuly graced the clubhouse.
OKCMOA’s Chihuly Collection
Bill and I made a pilgrimage to OKCMOA back in 2011-12, while the museum was celebrating the re-installation of their Chihulys. It’s one of our favorite shared memories. I’d raved so long and so hard about it that Deb was dying to go. The Trip With No Name gave us a reason to satisfy her longing.
Chihuly takes up most of the third floor of the museum. In the exhibit area, the ambient lighting has been turned way down and bright spotlights on the art makes it seem to reach out and grab you.
If you haven’t seen Chihuly in OK City, then you haven’t seen Chihuly at all – and since I’ve seen a lot of Chihulys, I know whereof I speak. At the gift shop I bought a package of cards decorated with photos of his pieces at the museum. I told myself I was getting them to share with you and then I could use them for correspondence. Well, here I am, sharing them with you, but I somehow doubt they will ever make it to the mailbox. I’m thinking they will make spectacular pages in my scrapbooks.
So enjoy these wonderful postcards and then come back next week. We’re going to have a fabulous meal at the Museum Cafe before we head off to Wichita.
TRAVEL THERE: OFF TO ATLANTIS – ATLANTIS PARADISE ISLAND RESORT THAT IS
A lot of what happens to you during travel is a result of what you expect – but not all of it. I’m the sort that expects to have the time of my life, no matter what I have on the agenda, but even with the greatest attitude in the world you can have some unpleasant travel experiences. Going to visit Atlantis was one of those.
Planning for Atlantis
From the day I first started researching my cruise on Norwegian Epic, the port I was most excited about was Nassau. I’ve dreamed of a vacation at the Atlantis Resort and though I’d only be there for a short while, I wanted to go visit and get a taste of what if would be like if I ever returned as a guest of the resort.
Visiting resorts rather than staying at them is sort of a hobby with Bill and I. We’re both interested in architecture and decor. Marketing and customer service have played a role in both of our careers, so we enjoy comparing notes on how organizations succeed or fail at these important activities. And who knows, I might want to blog about it.
The resorts win. We stroll through the place, have a drink at the bar or a meal in the restaurant and then become a walking, talking advertisement for the place.
Take The Phoenician in Scottsdale for instance. I’ve visited several times and it’s high on my list of resorts I hope to stay at some day, but so far all I’ve done is have drinks on the patio. However, my enthusiasm for the place has netted them a large number of guests, because when I run into anybody who tells me they’re going to Arizona, I tell them to stay at The Phoenician. The reason I’m telling you this, is because I want you to know that I’ve visited many resorts over the years to sample rather than stay and never have I had as bad an experience as I had at Atlantis.
In the beginning, I thought we might go on one of the shore excursions to Atlantis offered by NCL, but the excursions were focused on swimming with the dolphins and playing in the water park. That wasn’t my primary interest. I wanted to look around and visit the Aquarium. I found several online posts that indicated that it was easy to get to the island and see attractions at the resort. It was easy to get to Paradise Island, but seeing the resort was a whole ‘nother thing.
Lost on Paradise Island
After a bit of shopping in Nassau proper, we grabbed a cab outside the Straw Market and within minutes, our cabbie was letting us out in front of the resort. We strolled into the nearest door and started gaping in awe at the gorgeous decor. Now at least some part of the blame for our frustrations at Atlantis have to be blamed on the taxi driver. He didn’t exactly chose the primary entrance to drop us off, but I have to shoulder some of the blame also. I’d dreamed up this expedition and let myself get distracted by all the pretty stuff and didn’t get us going in the right direction. After Bill took a few pictures of me by the dolphin statues, Deb headed off to the right and I followed.
Now there wasn’t really anything wrong with heading to the right, because we saw some extraordinary stuff by wandering down that way, but we were also heading in the direction of Ms. Rude. Perhaps if I’d have been paying attention, rather than being photographed, I would have sent us in the other direction. But then again, maybe not.
As it was, the further we went, the more we realized how alone we were. Certainly there was more activity someplace else. We made a turn that took us to a busier section of the resort. We saw a door that led outside and made a beeline for it. Before we were able to get very far, a security guard pointed us back inside and told us to see the concierge. We found the concierge, who pointed us further down the counter and each time we started to explain what we wanted, we were directed further down the counter to another person, until we reached Ms. Rude.
I won’t bother you with the details of the conversation, but the bottom line was, “Either pay us $40 per person or go home,” and the message was delivered with the distinct implication that we should go home. After all the money Atlantis spends trying to get you to their resort, this was pretty sad.
Now, I’d be the first to admit that they’re probably inundated every day with cruise ship idiots that want to freeload on their beach and I don’t blame them for protecting themselves from said freeloaders, but they shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. We weren’t necessarily interested in paying $120 for the privilege of walking by their pool, but given the opportunity to eat in a decent restaurant, we might have dropped even more than that. What blew me away was the rude way that the woman delivered her message. We were earnestly trying to patronize the place. We just didn’t want to hang out on the beach and didn’t feel like we should have to pay for something we didn’t want.
In the end, she whipped out a map and showed me all the places we couldn’t go. It appeared we might as well go back to the ship, but talking among ourselves, we decided to get another opinion. In another part of the facility we found that we could actually go to the casino, something Ms. Rude had indicated we couldn’t do. This message was delivered with slightly less angst than Ms. Rude showered upon us, but only slightly less.
Back on Track
Then we did find the casino and I’m sharing the pictures below. It really is a gorgeous place, but if I were you, I’d stay away in droves. The marketing department might be trying to get you there, but the employees would rather you stayed home.
After standing around with our mouths open gawking at the Chihuly-laden casino, we visited the marina. I think I’ve made it very clear here in my blog that I am a big fan of Chihuly, but I’d somehow missed the news that Chihuly had decorated Atlantis’ casino or if I had known, I forgot. If I was impressed with the Chihulys, it was nothing compared to the jaw dropping my husband experienced when we found Marina Village.
Marina Village itself is nothing to write home about. It’s a pleasant little venue, but pretty much deserted. The best restaurants seemed to only be opened at night and the rest were fast food – Quinzo’s Johnny Rockets, etc. We ended up grabbing a pizza. A good pizza, but not what we’d planned when we first discussed having a meal at Atlantis – but I wasn’t about to spend $120 so that we could drop another $120 for a meal.
Should cruise passengers visit Atlantis? I’d say if water parks and a swim with the dolphins was of interest to you, then yes, go on a shore excursion with your cruise line. If you just want to see the Chihuly’s, then by all means, head on over there. I’d say that I’m glad I saw them. If you want to play on their beach and think it would be worth $40 per person, the price of a taxi both ways and the price of whatever you ate or drank while there, then go for it. If you want to go get a taste of Atlantis, then forget it. The taste we had left a bitter flavor in our mouths.
Bill took the picture to the right so you could see the different price levels for a day at Atlantis. The Epic doesn’t get into port until noon and leaves by six. Perhaps if we’d had more time to really have a “day” at Atlantis, these prices would have been more palatable – or if we were staying at another hotel, it would be worth it to enjoy the Atlantis experience. As it is, I wish I’d have planned something else.
As promised. Here’s Bill’s photolog of the Atlantis Casino and environs. As for the rest of the cruise, there’s not much left. Come back next week and find out what might be the Epic’s best kept secret!
Missouri’s Botanical Garden has been around since 1859, giving it one hundred and sixteen more years of development than our Dallas garden. I wouldn’t say that Missouri beat Dallas, but I will say this: I’d like to see Dallas after it’s 100th birthday party. DABS is just over twenty-five years old.
I’m grateful I got to the chance see the Missouri garden, but I do wish I’d had a little more time. I didn’t need a century, but the two hours I had were barely enough to scratch the surface.
However, I was jealous of Missouri from the moment we walked in. DABS was at its most glorious last year, when Chihuly’s art was on display, but when the exhibit was over, all the Chihuly’s left. In Missouri, a Chihuly chandelier graces the entry way to the gardens.
Stepping outside of the visitor’s center is overwhelming. How do you decide where to go? Chihuly lovers that we are, Deb and I headed toward another Chihuly. It’s a good thing it was the last one in the garden, because if not, my skin might have turned permanently green.
Chihuly’s aside, the garden was marvelous. We dragged ourselves from one wonder to another – a greenhouse, an iris garden, a gatehouse, a Victorian garden, a Japanese garden, a Boxwood garden…Are you tired yet? I haven’t even mentioned the Climatron, yet.
Visiting the garden on a Friday evening was extra special, because they were setting up for weddings at several different venues. The lady who sold us a ticket told us to take it in at our leisure and not worry about the 5 PM closing time. Unfortunately, after two hours we were exhausted and still had an art museum to find.. No one had to kick us out of the garden and we didn’t crash any weddings.
We did find some favorite areas in the garden. Deb loves Irises and the Iris beds were in full bloom. I’d be embarrassed to tell you how many pictures we took of them. It’s a good thing film is cheap in this digital era. I particularly liked the boxwood gardens. I adore the smell of boxwood and the look of a formal garden with manicured hedges. Though it wasn’t my favorite part, I did admire the large area devoted to helping backyard gardeners turn their space into minor miracles. The Japanese Garden on it’s own was as big and ornate as some Japanese Gardens I’ve paid to see separately. We never made it to the Climatron.
I could go on and on about the garden, but I won’t. Enjoy the pictures, instead. I realize Bill’s a better photographer than I am, but I was there and he wasn’t! Come back next week and we’ll enjoy Forest Park and the St. Louis Art Museum.
An exciting new exhibition of contemporary art is coming to Dallas, but it won’t be at a museum or gallery. Instead, you’ll have to go to a garden. Saturday morning I went to the Dallas Arboretum for a members event. Along with the number of pumpkins delivered for Autumn at the Arboretum and a list of the gardens being developed, I heard some fabulous news.
Chihuly Is Coming
This May, Dale Chihuly, glass blower extraordinaire, will install a major exhibition right here. The great big Chihuly Studio semi’s will roll into Dallas with several huge pieces of his work and place them throughout the arboretum grounds. If you know and love Chihuly the way I do, then you’re already thrilled. If you don’t, then you are in for a real treat.
Dallasites are lucky, because we have a beautiful example of Chihuly’s glass mastery at the Dallas Museum of Art. The Hart Window is four stories tall and if you haven’t seen it, drop what you’re doing and go right now. It won’t even cost you anything, because it’s right in the atrium before you get to the admissions desk. (The free jazz concerts in the atrium on Thursday evenings are a great way to enjoy the masterpiece.)
To have Chihuly mount an exhibition in Dallas puts us on par with cities like Venice and London. Some art snobs like to belittle Chihuly’s work, but just because the general public can appreciate an artist’s creations doesn’t demean it. In their day, Michelangelo and da Vinci were pretty popular guys, too.
Other DABS News
Chihuly is not all that’s happening at the Arboretum. During this week, fifty thousand pumpkins will be assembled into houses, floated in fountains and placed throughout the garden for Autumn at the Arboretum, which begins Sunday. Along with the pumpkins, new fall annuals will be planted in all their glory. You’ll want to see it.
Cool Thursday Concerts will continue through October and include everything from country singer/songwriter Max Stalling to a Bon Jovi tribute. If you want to make the concerts a really special evening, Restaurant DeGolyer, which is under-going a renovation of both its facilities and its menus, will have wine tastings on Thursday nights in October, too.
And pardon their dust, but two new gardens are underway. In between the DeGolyer House and the Camp House, the new Red Maple Rill is nearing completion. Those gorgeous red maples, in a wide ranging variety, will be highlighted along with new fountains, walks and flower beds.
If you’ve got kiddos, then take them for a play date at DABS’ Pioneer Village. This feature is available for only a few more months and the sod house, teepee and other structures will be coming down. But don’t fret, the kids are getting a larger more exciting garden. Remember that foreboding bamboo forest down at the far end of the gardens – past the Camp House? That bundle of bamboo will be replaced by the Children’s Adventure Garden.
Did you know the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Society’s gardens are rated among the top twenty – not in the States – but in the WORLD? MSN and others put them at number fourteen. This alone makes the gardens worth a trip to Dallas, but Chihuly makes it a “must see.” Come to Dallas and see our gardens. If you live in Dallas and don’t have a membership, then this will be the year to join.