San Diego has long been associated with trendsetting art and with the annual ComicCon celebration of all things animation. Now both are in the limelight as the new Dale Chihuly sculpture “Enlightened” nears completion above the central staircase of the Mingei Museum in Balboa Park.
As the title suggests, “Enlightened” is also a lighting fixture, incorporating red neon tubes. The larger than life figure has a SuperHero figure like several popular creations from ComicCon. “Enlightened” towers over both the main entrance and second floor, suspended from the ceiling over the stairwell. The action figure flexes his strength with metallic barbells and wears a form fitting workout outfit to accentuate a very muscular physique. The sporty figure also connects the Mingei, a decorative arts museum, thematically with the nearby Hall of Champions, a sports museum in Balboa Park. The figure’s wings point visitors in the direction of the San Diego Air & Space Museum, an uplifting inspiration for the Balboa Park Cultural Alliance.
The components and accent pieces of this massive sculpture are being assembled right now and completion is expected early next week. This is providing a rare opportunity for Mingei Museum visitors to go behind the scenes in contemporary art and see how a complex modern sculpture is assembled from hundreds of components by experienced installation professionals. Just one box delivered for the assembly contains forty-eight components: eight hornets, twenty-four leaves, eleven horns and goosenecks, two horn balls and one feather. Another section will be decorated with nine horns, five horn balls and two feathers. There are twenty-two different boxes in total, ensuring that the final installation will both surprise and delight visitors to the Mingei.
The Mingei Museum is located on the on the Plaza de Panama in Balboa Park. It is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily except Mondays. Combined with sunny skies, that makes this weekend an ideal time to visit the Mingei in Balboa Park and see art history be made.