‘Winter Light Fest’ brightens winter nights

Take a look, and you’ll see how this “bright idea” has grown over the years, lighting up the west edge of East Portland …

With downtown Portland for a backdrop, people stop along the east  bank Willamette River Esplanade to take in works like this one – “Mihly’s Gate”.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Thousands of people strolled by the Willamette River to take in a new tradition – the three-evening Portland Winter Light Festival, this year held on February 6 through 8 on the East Bank Esplinade, near the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI).

After sunset each of the three evenings, a hundred artists, using “video projection mapping”, “fire sculpture”, and live performance gave visitors to the fifth edition of this festival an expression of the theme, “Into the Dreamscape”.

Marianne Zarkin, Co-chair of the Portland Winter Light Festival Development Committee, says visitors tell her that experiencing the festival is “magical”.

“Although this is our fifth year, there’s been a dedicated group of volunteers working to bring it about, long before that,” commented Willamette Light Brigade Board Member Marianne Zarkin, Co-chair of the festival’s Development Committee.

“It’s exciting to have such a lively event outdoors in Portland in the wintertime, when most people are stuck at home, and there is little to do,” Zarkin told East Portland News.

An artist from outer East Portland – Kay Sims – shows her flaming artwork, “Crystal Evolution”. It took herself and her partner a year to fabricate at their shop, near Powell Butte, she says.

“We’re glad it’s been pretty clear this year – but even on evenings when it’s raining and cold, to be able to come outside and view beautiful light art, make new friends, and be able to walk around outside at night in the dark, is fun, too – many people tell us it’s ‘magical’ to be here,” commented Zarkin.

Taken in by the undulating patters of light produced by this work, entitled “LUCID” are Kim Boehm and John Boehm.

Visitors were dazzled by temporary pop-up art installations by local design and architecture firms – including an immersive 2,500-square-foot “light forest”. Moreover, those who attended were treated with troupes performing fire dancing, as well as circus acts, throughout the festival.

“It’s wonderful to have an event like this. When people gather at our festival, it builds a sense of community among Portlanders,” Zarkin observed.

Jonathan Rehm of Next Level Lasers [inset] is the “wizard behind the curtain” who created dancing laser images on the nearby Marquam Bridge piers.

“We’re grateful for our artists, volunteers, and especially our sponsors, all of whom work together to put on such fantastic, and totally free, party for the people of Portland!”

© 2020 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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