OMSI set aglow during ‘Winter Light Fest’

Find out why the organizers of this festival believe it’s destined to become an internationally well-known attraction …

Giant illuminated displays illuminate the night, during the second annual Portland Winter Light Festival held in East Portland.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Heavy rainstorms sweeping through the area on the first four evenings of February didn’t stop Portlanders from heading out to the second annual Portland Winter Light Festival, held near the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

The idea is to illuminate Portland’s east bank of the Willamette River – “brilliantly awakening the city in the dark of winter into a glowing tapestry of light, color, artistry,” proclaimed a poster for the outdoor festival.

Artist Tyler Fuqua shows off his giant, fallen 36-foot tall robot – called Mechan 9 – in front of OMSI.

In OMSI’s front plaza, the sight of a huge, fallen robot called “Mechan 9” – which first appeared at this year’s Burning Man Festival – captured the attention of all who passed by.

“I considered that a good way to display a robot would be to have it fallen, but still alive, partially buried in the ground,” said its creator, Tyler Fuqua. “It’s an image that evokes mystery.”

Guests are invited to spin the prayer wheels, and align the myths depicted on its facades of “Wolf Totem” by Scott Wilson and Jo Lundberg.

Portland Winter Light Festival Managing Director Michael “MJ” Joyce shows the event’s “name in lights”.

After volunteering about 1,000 hours for last year’s inaugural Portland Winter Light Festival, the now-Managing-Director, Michael “MJ” Joyce, said that he and other supporters worked throughout the year to present the second festival this February.

“It’s a lot of fun; it’s an exciting and charming sort of event,” Joyce told East Portland News.

More than 50 artists and performers participated in this year’s festival, with displays running along river pathway from the OMSI campus south to the Tilikum Crossing Bridge of the People – with a few displays on the west bank of the river as well, remarked Joyce.

“We’ve met our goal of creating a free event, open to the whole community, with an atmosphere that is really delightful, unthreatening. and welcoming to everyone,” Joyce said.

Rich Burton of HooperFly is about to launch one of his colorful “open source flying robots”.

“Instigator” Jon Hannis with CTRL-H Hackerspace installs “The Internet of Buckets”.

“People who come here are invited to participate with the interactive displays, or to dress in lights – so, it’s more than just being a spectator going to a parade, but also jumping in and being part of it.”

With the success of the second annual Portland Winter Light Festival in spite of this year’s rainstorms, Joyce says he expects interest and involvement to continue to grow. “Our volunteers donate thousands of hours to their project and to the festival, and sponsors like Portland General Electric help pay the bills.

“I believe this will become an annual event that becomes an internationally-recognized festival,” Joyce said.

Visitors take shelter from the rain as they walk through and admire this sculpture.

© 2017 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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