Splash of Glass Art Exhibit at Garvan Woodland Gardens


Hanging glass onions. Photo by Z. Clift.

I had a chance to check out the Splash of Glass exhibit yesterday at Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs.

If you haven’t heard of the exhibit yet, around 225 pieces of multi-colored glass creations by Arkansas artist and glassblower James Hayes are being shown at the Gardens now through Sept. 30. They are featured across the property, which encompasses a 210-acre peninsula on the shores of Lake Hamilton.

Colorful glass toadstool on side of walking path. Photo by Z. Clift.

The glass pieces can be found at various spots across the Gardens and in pretty neat locations. I found the best method to tackle the exhibit is to head out on the walking paths in any direction–the less you know about where the art installations are the better as I found it a nice surprise to randomly come across them while walking.  It gave a very whimsical feel to the day.  There are many scenes that stood out including an intricate installation that is hanging under the Full Moon Bridge and the Koi Pond that is filled with colorful floating glass balls. Coming across art pieces on the sides of various walking paths was neat too–my favorite were a patch of toadstools Hayes has made that he attached onto fallen tree trunks to make them look like were growing out of them.

Hayes owns and operates the James Hayes Art Glass Company in his hometown of Pine Bluff. The technique of glassblowing has been around since antiquity and it takes years to master the intricate process needed to shape and sculpt molten glass into works of art.

Intricate art installation under Full Moon Bridge. Photo by Z. Clift.
Intricate art installation under Full Moon Bridge. Photo by Z. Clift.

Hayes has gained a reputation for creativity and color in his designs that include bowls, plates, vases, chandeliers, and other blown glass works. Mr. Hayes’ honors include an invitation from the White House to design a Christmas tree ornament.

View at Koi Pond. Photo by Z. Clift.
View at Koi Pond. Photo by Z. Clift.

As to his background, he received an art degree from Hendrix College in 1988. Three months later he discovered glassblowing at the Arkansas Arts Center Museum School in Little Rock. He has studied glassblowing in Murano, Italy; Columbus, OH; and at world-renowned glass artisan Dale Chihuly’s Pilchuck Glass School near Seattle, WA.

Many of his art pieces at the Gardens will also be available for purchase. Of note, Gardens admission does apply to see the installation.

There are some neat upcoming events at the Gardens including National Public Gardens Day on May 10. That day, the Gardens are offering free admission to all visitors. For admission, you must print a voucher ( available here) and bring it with you.

Garvan Woodland Gardens is located at 550 Arkridge Road. For more details contact Kristin Mangham at Garvan Woodland Gardens at 501-262-9615 or kmangham@garvangardens.org

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