What would it mean if we could walk into any Marriot, any Hilton, any Ramada Inn and see Chihuly chandeliers hanging in the lobby as I did at the Marriott Renaissance Hotel in New Orleans. It was early on a July Sunday morning, and I was exploring the arts district, an old warehouse area which had gone from a center of industry in the 19th century to an urban wasteland in the 20th century. The transformation began in 1976 with the opening of the Contemporary Arts Center, closed when I climbed the stairs to look inside, seeing gallery after gallery and wishing I had the time to return. I was searching for Tchoupitoulas Street, trying to get that Marriott, and when I did I couldn’t figure out where the art gallery next door ended and the hotel began, for there in the lobby, I saw three Dan Chihuly chandeliers, their vibrant colors, their geometric shapes, cascading and forming sculptures. I stood breathless, hardly believing what I was seeing. “Are those Chihulys?” I asked the desk clerk, a young woman with dark hair and a ready smile.
I lowered my gaze from the ceiling. “Do you mind if I look around?”
“Please, do,” she said.