The glory and grandeur of glass 

Acclaimed glass artist Dale Chihuly settles into new home at Whistler’s Luminaura Gallery

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He's the artistic mastermind behind the breathtaking ceiling in the lobby of Las Vegas's Bellagio, an installation of 2,000 hand-blown glass flowers. He also created the 30-foot blown glass chandelier that hangs in the entrance of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Now, Dale Chihuly, an internationally-renowned artist, has a presence here in Whistler, as Luminaura Gallery has started to present his work.

David and Krista Kilvert are the owners of Luminaura Gallery, which opened in the Fairmont Chateau Whistler almost three years ago.

With a combined background in fine arts, corporate branding and visual communications, the couple has a shared love of the arts. They started collecting small glass art pieces years ago. Back in 2001, they decided to challenge themselves on another level and opened their first art gallery in Banff, Alberta.

After almost five years of operating there, they decided to jump on an opportunity to take over a small space in the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, which they felt offered more of a resort atmosphere, with a loyal clientele of tourists that are more committed to the community.

"There's just a more dynamic feel to the flow-through of people - they're coming from all over," David Kilvert said.

Today, they're the only gallery in Whistler that focuses primarily on contemporary art glass.

"Both of us just have been exposed to a lot of the process and over the years, for many years, had visited studios and hot shops and watched glass being blown and collected a little bit of glass."

While Murano, Italy, is the traditional birthplace of art glass, much of the glasswork that was produced there was functional - items like lamps and vases. But today, the Pacific Northwest has become a focal point of contemporary art glass scene.

"People very much identify Murano as the centre of the glass world in the universe, but most of the glass in Italy... is production glass, and this is what intrigued us with Dale Chihuly, in particular."

You see, Chihuly was a prominent figure in the American art glass or studio movement of the '70s when he began experimenting with the medium in the hope of expanding people's concept of glass and ultimately transforming it from a craft to a fine art form.

"Quite honestly... he and a handful of the best Italian artists, they have done more to change the perception within not only the public, but within the art world."

Anyone who has watched a piece of glass art come together will agree that it's a fascinating, fluid process, one that seems to enthrall people of all ages and artistic backgrounds. And the end result is equally captivating.

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