Thursday February 20, 2020 | by Farah Rose Smith

OPENING: Dan Dailey's portraiture explored in "Character Sketch" exhibition at Chrysler Museum

"Dan Dailey: Character Sketch," an exhibition focusing on figurative work of prolific glass artist Dan Dailey, opens this Friday. The work will be on view at The Chrysler Museum from February 21 to May 31, 2020. The Chrysler-curated show will feature 33 artworks and span the artist’s 40-year career. The museum's Carolyn and Richard Barry Curator of Glass Carolyn Swan Needell has written a catalog to accompany the exhibition. Subjective and narrative in nature, Dailey’s work is “inspired by the human character and based upon his direct observation of the world,” reads the exhibition announcement. The artist "articulates his perceptions and thoughts about humanity through the medium of glass, pushing the material to new frontiers in order to tell stories about human nature," the announcement continues. Dailey is known as one of the most unique voices within the field of contemporary glass, and the exhibition will include blown and hot-worked glass vases and sculpture, glass cane murals, wall reliefs made from Vitrolite, industrial colored glass, as well as his original drawings.

Dan Dailey, Pine Tree Man from the series Face Vase, 1994. Blown, sandblasted, and acid-polished glass; applied glass; vitreous enamel. photo: bill truslow. © dan dailey

Since 1971, Dailey’s work has been in over 250 group, juried, and invitational exhibitions, as well as individual exhibitions, including a 1987 major retrospective at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution. When asked if his work has been represented before in the way that the Chrysler Museum is recognizing and exhibiting his works, Dailey says, “Caroline Needell has a thesis that she has put forth as far as my work is concerned. She wanted to focus on that and is not showing the illuminated works. She made deliberate selections and has rationale for each. Her take on it is different and my work has not been exhibited in this way before.”

Dan Dailey, Perspective from the series Individuals, 2011. Blown, sandblasted, and acid-polished glass; metal. photo: bill truslow. © dan dailey

Dailey founded the glass department at Massachusetts College of Art in 1973 and has taught at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, RISD, Pilchuck, and Haystack.

When asked what makes Dan Dailey one of the most unique voices within the field of contemporary glass, curator Carolyn Swan Needell says, “Dan’s work really can’t be mistaken for the work of any other artist. The message and execution of his work is simply unique. This holds true for his over 40-year career: works made in the 1980s connect strikingly well to work made last year in 2019, in both aesthetics and meaning."

During his visit to Norfolk, Dan Dailey will offer free demonstrations throughout the weekend and give a public lecture on his work.  


Gallery Talk
Saturday, April 4, 2020
11 a.m. │ Free

Explore the artworks on view in "Dan Dailey: Character Sketch" with Carolyn Swan Needell, Ph.D., the Carolyn and Richard Barry Curator of Glass. See the diversity of formats the artist uses in his artworks, and learn about his mastery of observation and figural rendering.

In addition to the exhibition, Dailey will be present at a number of museum events.

Visiting Artist Series: Dan Dailey
Evening with the Artist
Friday, May 8, 2020
7 p.m. │ Free for Museum Members, $5 for non-members

Free Demonstrations
Friday–Sunday, May 8–10, 2020
10 a.m.–1 p.m. and 2–4 p.m. Friday
10 a.m.–1 p.m. and 2–5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Dan Dailey, Quizzical from the series Individuals, 2004 Blown, sandblasted, and acid-polished glass. Photography by Bill Truslow © Dan Dailey


"The Chrysler Museum of Art is one of America’s most distinguished mid-sized art museums, with a nationally recognized collection of more than 30,000 objects, including one of the great glass collections in America. The core of the Chrysler’s collection comes from Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., an avid art collector who donated thousands of objects from his private collection to the Museum. The Museum, expanded in 2014 to add additional gallery spaces and amenities for visitors, now has growing collections in many areas and mounts an ambitious schedule of visiting exhibitions and educational programs each season. The Chrysler has also been recognized nationally for its unique commitment to hospitality with its innovative gallery host program."

Dan Dailey, Freaked Out and Pissed Off from the series Vitrolite Mural, 2012 Vitrolite (industrial colored glass), plate glass, enamel, metal. Photography by Bill Truslow © Dan Dailey


Dan Dailey
"Dan Dailey: Character Sketch"
February 21, 2020 - May 31, 2020
The Chrysler Museum of Art
1 Memorial Pl
Norfolk, VA 
Phone: 757.664.6200

Glass: The UrbanGlass Quarterly, a glossy art magazine published four times a year by UrbanGlass has provided a critical context to the most important artwork being done in the medium of glass for more than 40 years.