Walking Washington DC

DC’s Georgetown GLOW Shines Bright

Georgetown GLOW Spring Edition art installation

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 light

Georgetown GLOW

I feel aglow to immerse myself in outdoor art in historic Georgetown which opened on April 9.

Walking Tour

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.

GLOW Spring Edition installations

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.”

The Wishes Within installation

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.

Make A Wish

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.

The Weight of a Rainbow installation

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 song

Stephanie 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. 

Madness Method

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.

Madness Method installation

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 Beginning of Everything installation

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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  • Val Hansen
    April 16, 2021 at 7:46 pm

    How lovely Teri, I hope to explore DC in the next year, never been! The lanterns are so goregous!


    • Terri
      April 17, 2021 at 6:25 am

      Definitely wait until the Smithsonian museums and National Gallery of Art reopen. Let me know when you are visiting. I will give you a private walking tour of DC! xo Terri

      • Adéle
        April 17, 2021 at 8:18 am

        Wow! This is fascinating! I’ve never heard of this. I love DC and your blog posts do it a great service.
        I really wanted to get over for January 20th but flying from Europe was practically impossible.

        • Terri
          April 17, 2021 at 8:58 am

          I also had to watch the inauguration on TV even though I live in DC. Our city was locked up. You definitely should come visit DC after the pandemic is over. There is so much to do!

  • Devin Held
    April 16, 2021 at 7:53 pm

    I love visiting places like this. I think my favourite is the “weight of a rainbow”. The meteorite is really neat too! Thanks for sharing!

    • Terri
      April 17, 2021 at 8:59 am

      Devin I am so glad you enjoyed my article. Thank you!

  • Lina
    April 17, 2021 at 5:44 am

    Wow what a beautiful and magical place! I love that they want to make it happen this year, it would be a pity if they need to cancel it again. It’s a wonderful message for the hopefully soon end of the pandemic 🙂

    • Terri
      April 17, 2021 at 8:59 am

      Season of Light! I love the slogan for GLOW’s Spring 2021 edition. So hopeful.

  • Laurence
    April 17, 2021 at 10:36 am

    This looks so magical! And I love the significance of coming out of the darkness of lock down. The Make a Wish circle is such a cool idea. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  • Denise
    April 17, 2021 at 12:51 pm

    Oh man, any chance of an extension? I’ll miss these works by a month or so! Love the concept!

  • Jade
    April 17, 2021 at 4:48 pm

    This looks so beautiful!! I wish I knew about this when I was in last in D.C. a couple years ago. I wasn’t too familiar with Georgetown but I knew it was a popular neighborhood.

    • Terri
      April 17, 2021 at 6:13 pm

      GLOW is a regular event in December around the holidays. They moved it to spring in 2021 due to the pandemic. You will really enjoy Georgetown if you get back to DC.

  • Ann Marks
    April 18, 2021 at 12:14 pm

    I love art and the D.C./Georgetown area! I had no idea about this going on. I will have to add this to my list of things to do next time I go!

    • Terri
      April 23, 2021 at 3:07 pm

      I highly recommend GLOW if you visit Georgetown between now and late September!

  • Lisa
    May 10, 2021 at 8:31 pm

    WOW! This looks so pretty!! I’ve love to experience this in person!

    • Terri
      May 15, 2021 at 3:52 pm

      We are so lucky that a new GLOW is staged every year in Georgetown, typically during the December holidays. But due to the pandemic, GLOW changed to a spring & summer installation.