Artist's work set to "DAZZLE" visitors at Beardsley Zoo

Photo of Amanda Cuda

Plants can be fragile life forms.

They need the right mix of sunlight, water, and nourishment from the the earth, or they won’t thrive. And even if they do grow and meet their full potential, their time on earth is often brief, lasting only a season before they return to the earth they came from.

Glass is fragile in a completely different way, capable of shattering under too much pressure, too harsh of an impact or too great a fluctuation in temperature.

So it seems only fitting to mix these two fragile, but beautiful items together. And that’s just what Peter Greenwood did.

Greenwood, 61, of Riverton, is the artist behind “DAZZLE: A Garden of Glass,” in which 500 glass pieces will be on display in the greenhouse at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport through April 6. But the glass pieces aren’t just in cases lined up along walls, as they might be in a typical museum setting.

Over two days, Greenwood painstakingly arranged the artworks among the plants in the greenhouse, so that the glass often looks like exotic plant life. “It’s organic in its look,” Greenwood says. “It can pass as something actually growing out of the soil.”

A glassblower for more than 40 years, Greenwood first learned the art while studying at the Pilchuck School in Washington state. He works out of a converted stone church in Riverton and also creates with wood and metal as well as glass. His work has appeared in 25 museums, including the Louvre Museum in Paris and the Bruce Museum in Greenwich.

Glass, he says, is special because he has to work with it in its molten form, shaping and molding it. “I was hooked from the very first time I saw and worked with it,” Greenwood says.

The pieces in “DAZZLE” were sitting in Greenwood’s shed when he received a call from someone at Beardsley Zoo asking if he would like to display his work and help generate interest in the zoo.

“I had never been to the zoo before,” he says. “This was my first time coming here. But I liked the idea that I could help promote the zoo. Everyone needs help these days.”

So he decided to put those pieces in his shed to good use. Greenwood says it took him a week to pack everything up to take it to the zoo for the exhibit.

In many cases, he placed pieces right in the dirt, so that they resemble leaves, flowers, and the like, just growing in the soil. But Greenwood has gotten creative with his placement, also hanging glass pitchers from trees, floating colorful bowls in the greenhouse’s pond, and finding other ways to make his artwork look both special and part of the landscape.

“The more you look around, the more you discover,” Greenwood says. “It’s very interesting to me.”

Greenwood says the greenhouse is actually an ideal venue for his art. “There’s great light,” he says. “It’s all windows, which makes the glass light up very well and sparkle.”

“DAZZLE” will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day through April 6. All the pieces in the show will be available for purchase at the end of the exhibition.

Entrance to DAZZLE is included in the price of admission to Beardsley Zoo, 1875 Noble Ave., Bridgeport. Zoo admission is $15 for adults and $10 for children 3 to 11 and senior over 62. Children under 3 are free. Members enter for free.

Tickets can be purchased online at beardsleyzoo.org .

COVID-19 rules remain in effect at the zoo and masks are to be worn by all guests, except for those ages two and under. Social distancing must be observed, with six-foot distancing between family groups.

acuda@ctpost.com; Twitter: @AmandaCuda