DC’s Georgetown GLOW is the “ray of light” that we all desperately seek in a year of darkness and fear. It is reminiscent of the joy we felt/feel when we finally confirm our first Covid vaccination appointment, eat inside at a restaurant, or book our first airline ticket. Georgetown GLOW proudly proclaims its first-ever Spring Event as:
A new season of lightGeorgetown GLOW
I feel aglow to immerse myself in outdoor art in historic Georgetown which opened on April 9.
Five artists are showing commissioned artworks during Spring GLOW in Georgetown (April 9-June 27)—DC artists Stephanie Mercedes; Chris Combs and David Greenfieldboyce; and Nara Park as well as Edwin Baruch (hailing from New York City) and Curated Creative (Milwaukee, Wisconsin).
As I wander up Wisconsin Avenue with my merry band of art lovers registered for our DC by Foot walking tour on April 9, I feel grateful to be out and about. One year ago, Washingtonians were under lockdown orders. It was the Season of Darkness. So many people felt isolated and scared.
I hurry past storefronts, street art and cherry blossoms decorations, eager to reach the first installation.
The Wishes Within
We start at “The Wishes Within” installation at Georgetown Lutheran Church, which is located at 1556 Wisconsin Avenue NW. Standing nearby are the two artists from Curated Creative. They talk with us about viewers’ reactions to the sky lanterns at DC’s Georgetown GLOW. “Rooted in Asian culture, the practice of lighting sky lanterns has been celebrated across the world as a practice to release worry and embrace hope.”
Visitors can “turn on” the light installation by standing on the Make A Wish sign under the tree branches. “In this interactive installation viewers are encouraged to hold a wish in their heart and step inside the marked circle to bring their wish to life.”
Step inside the circle and make it shine.Curated Creative
Since it is twilight, the lantern lights cast a lemony glow on objects—the red brick church, the tufts of grass, and the church windows. The word Wish is also illuminated as a cursive word that stands next to the tree. The cursive swirl matches the upward bent of my mood—optimistic and hopeful at DC’s Georgetown GLOW.
The art installation also reminds me of the traditional luminaria consisting of candles packed in sand-packed bags except these airborne objects wave in the wind. I imagine many car drivers want to linger at the streetlights at Wisconsin Avenue to stare. A necklace of white lights lay on squat bushes.
The Weight of a Rainbow
We cross M Street to reach our second installation—The Weight Of A Rainbow—located at Georgetown Park Plaza. I stroll (as opposed to breeze) through this intimate space tucked between the old Dean & Delucca gourmet food store and a row of shops. Brilliant blue, white, turquoise, and rose cylinder lights dangle above me.
Programmed lights mimic the movement of the voices. The viewer is engulfed in the rainbow. I stride slowly down the walk, staring upwards. People chatter around me. I hear a snippet of a song, perhaps “Stormy Weather.” But the person in front of me and behind me will hear different music:
A collective a cappella choir of eight LGBTQ+ voices tell their stories through accompanying songStephanie Mercedes, Artist
Unfortunately, half of the lights were turned off during the opening weekend of DC’s Georgetown GLOW Spring Edition. I can’t wait to come back and walk the runway under the full glare of lights.
It is short walk over the C&O Canal, past a few dark alleys and side streets to reach Grace Episcopal Church. This is the busiest site so far tonight. The expansive church courtyard seems to invite you to linger. The “Madness Method” art installation featuring 200 flickering lanterns is designed by Chris Combs and David Greenfieldboyce of Washington, DC.
The geometry is all lines, angles, and triangles. The vertex is to determine the message. A lot of heads stare upward, pondering the universe. Lights flicker around me. What a mess. But step on the right spot on the path and see it all converge:
A little bit of magic
I would linger at Grace Episcopal Church but our group must finish our walk before 9:30 pm. The ochre-red chapel door glows in the dark. Couples and families linger under trees. I loop several times around the giant object.
The Beginning of Everything
Our final stop is The Beginning of Everything—a site-specific installation inspired by the Holsinger Meteorite that fell from outer space. Canyon Diablo created Meteor Crater in Arizona about 50,000 years ago. The artist Nara Park fabricated the sculpture out of EPS foam. The surface is covered with reflective glass beads so the object glows through the retro-reflection of light.
The meteorite connects the cosmos and human society. It makes us contemplate our existence and our relationship to the world and by extension, the universe.
We are part of a much larger universe.
About Georgetown GLOW
Georgetown Business Improvement District (BID) presents DC’s Georgetown GLOW. The pandemic cancelled the annual holiday Georgetown GLOW in 2020. But the organizers refused to let the pandemic cancel the light show, preferring to push it into spring and summer 2021. Their reasoning is sound:
The 7th edition of GLOW is the ray of light we all need.Georgetown Business Improvement District
The extended, two-part series will feature a total of eight works. The Summer Edition of DC’s Georgetown GLOW will transform Georgetown’s public alleys (July 2-September 26).
GLOW is the region’s only free curated outdoor public art experience. “Established in 2014, the innovative exhibition has quickly become one of DC’s most anticipated events each year,” according to BID.
GLOW Spring Edition is a free public art experience which is “viewable by day, and brighter by night.” Each artwork location allows for social distancing. Masks are required.
According to BID, “Nearly every weekend during Georgetown’s free outdoor light art experience, April 9 – June 27, select artists will be stationed at their installations from 7 pm – 9 pm to answer questions.”
Georgetown is known for its historic buildings, cobblestone streets, charming boutiques, and expansive waterfront. I also recommend visiting nearby Dupont Circle. You can see great street art on U Street.
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