TOLEDO, OH — Formerly in Rockefeller Center’s Rainbow Room in New York, Orbit now resides in its new home outside the Little Theater at the Toledo Museum of Art. Donated by New York real estate firm Tishman Speyer, the 15 by 8-foot mural is a glowing work of glass with a changing lighting scheme that radiates shades of amber, rose, violet and blue. The muted, ethereal feeling the mural evokes contrasts with the images from ancient mythology, space exploration and science fiction that are cast into the glass.
“It’s a pretty significant piece for me,” Dailey said. “When I think about my influences, many are revealed here. This is about a kind of wide-ranging view of things that are significant in the history of art and in the history of design, and the iconography of these things.
“In retrospect, as big as it is, I realize it was still a really personal object.”
Commissioned in 1986 for the Rainbow Room nightclub, Orbit’s first inspiration was the space’s revolving dance floor and iconic history. In 2014, almost 30 years later, the glass mural was removed from its location behind the bandstand when the Rainbow Room’s owners had it dismantled as part of a major overhaul of the club’s interior. It was saved and donated to its new home in Toledo, Ohio, in 2015.
“Orbit’s scale is one reason it’s quite an impressive glass sculpture,” said Halona Norton-Westbrook, the museum’s director of collections. “But it’s also special because of the level of detail that went into the work, so that it has visual impact both from a distance, as it was installed in New York, as well as close-up. We’re thrilled to acquire this substantial work in glass for TMA’s collection.”
The installation of Orbit is the Museum’s third collaboration with Dailey; in 2007, he co-authored the children’s book “Glassigator,” and in 2008, he was invited to participate in the Guest Artist Pavilion Project at the Museum’s Glass Pavilion.