Lunchtime Tourist

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March 22, 2004 // UPDATED 10:21 am - April 25, 2007
By: Linda Koutsky
Linda Koutsky

Chihuly's 'Red Tower' Target Corporation lobby, Nicollet Mall and South 11th Street entrance

(no skyway access to lobby)

Internationally renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly has several swirling translucent sculptures in and around Downtown, but nothing's taller than the one in Target's lobby.

"Red Tower" spirals and twists out of a black granite base, reaching toward the ceiling more than 24 feet tall. Curlicues of red and yellow glass leap from the vertical spine like underwater seaweed or floating anemones. Ride the escalator to the second floor for an overview.

Dale Chihuly was born in 1941 in Tacoma, Wash. While studying interior design, he became enamored with glass art. The University of Wisconsin was the only school teaching the ancient art of glass blowing at the time, so he packed up and headed East. After Wisconsin, Chihuly continued his studies at the Rhode Island School of Design and eventually taught there for 10 years in his own pioneering glass program.

During a Fulbright Fellowship in 1968, Chihuly was the first American glassblower to work in the prestigious Venini Fabrica factory on the island of Murano in Venice, Italy. There, he learned the teamwork approach to glassblowing crucial to his work today.

The history of making glass objects dates back 2,000 years to the Romans, who invented the blowpipe. Before then, glass was mostly cast. The Venetians are credited with bringing blown glass into the modern age, but Chihuly is recognized as launching glass from a fine craft to large-scale architectural installations. His first big installation was in the lobby of Bellagio hotel and casino in Las Vegas. The 1998 "Fiori di Como" contains 2,000 glass pieces weighing 40,000 pounds -- all suspended overhead on a transparent ceiling.

This major-league glass artist has received two National Endowment of the Arts fellowships and seven honorary doctorates and has his work in more than 200 museum collections.

LUNCH TIP: Grab a roasted sandwich at Marketplace Cafe just off the Target lobby and gaze out at the glass fountain by Howard Ben Tr/ -- Chihuly's former

student.

Send your tips to thelunchtimetourist@hotmail.com.