After Dark Light Art Installations at the California Historical Society
If you’ve heard anything about the California Historical Society this year, you probably heard about their year-long exhibition of City Rising: San Francisco and the 1915 World’s Fair, which kicked off back in February, and will be ending in the first week of January, 2016. A major part of this exhibition was a series called Engineers of Illumination, where five projected-light installations honor the stunning achievements of the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition.
Since February, there have been five light-based artists who have shown their after-dark artwork in the CHS gallery’s front and side windows, each running for six weeks. In case you missed these spectacular light installations, they’re each coming back for a short recap in November and December. Here are the dates when you can see each as they make their final round, and a little bit about each unique piece.
November 23–29: Shimmering Spectacles, by Scott Stark
This installation animates a collection of original photographs from the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) and mixes them with contemporary imagery, bringing into focus the multiple “spectacles” that comprised the legendary San Francisco World’s Fair.
November 30–December 6: Lopa Pikta (Rope Picture), by Ben Wood
The PPIE celebrated the winning of the West: “manifest destiny” had prevailed, and Native Americans were no longer seen as obstacles to expansion. Their image had changed from savage heathens to romanticized tragic figures. Ishi, the last surviving member of the Yahi Indian tribe, attended the fair, and this projection Lopa Pikta (meaning Rope Picture) refers to the term that Ishi used to describe motion pictures.
December 7–13: The Illuminated Palace, by Kevin Cain
The Illuminated Palace combines lensless camera techniques from the dawn of photography with contemporary digital views to capture architect Bernard Maybeck’s vision of the Palace of Fine Arts. Through the use of light, this installation explores Maybeck’s fantasy of dematerializing the Palace, weaving into his projections a likely future in which a rising Pacific claims the Palace and its lagoon once and for all.
December 14–20: Field of Vision, by Elise Baldwin
The PPIE was a demonstration of human and cultural resilience in response to the devastation of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fires. This installation overlays photographs of San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake with photographs of the PPIE, as the artist highlights the phoenix-like rebuilding of the city and construction of the fairgrounds.
December 21–January 3: The City Luminous: Spectral Canopy Variation, by Kerry Laitala
In her installation, Laitala pays tribute to the innovative lighting design of the PPIE. The City Luminous provides an imaginative view into the past inspired by Walter D’Arcy Ryan, the fair’s illumination engineer, and the dancer Loie Fuller, who raised funds to preserve the Palace of Fine Arts when the fair ended.
Don’t miss your last chance to see these unique pieces of artwork. The California Historical Society is surrounded by fine dining, and making a stop to see these unique installations is a great way to create a romantic outing your date won’t soon forget! To add a touch of elegance to your night out, call Nationwide Limousine Service at 800-339-8936.