Sharon Holnback owner of the Triangle L. Ranch in Oracle Arizona ( about 40 miles north of Tucson) Invited twenty or thirty artists to come out and play one deliciously warm night in 2003 (maybe it was 2004?). We set up illuminated art along a dirt path, some dressed in costumes, others played music. We transformed the desert and reveled under the full moon until dawn. Certainly more than one bottle of tequila met its demise that night. But GLOW was born.
What started out as the mother of all art-parties has organically grown over the years and is now Southern Arizona’s premier illuminated art event. Last year it was host to nearly 200 artists, musicians and performers from around the country. It had an attendance of over two-thousand people. I’m very proud to say that I’ve been a very big part of GLOW. So much so that in the last 3 years I took on the task of co-organizing with Sharon. It’s a massive undertaking.
I’m deeply interested in open culture. Having been first introduced to it through the open-source software movement. I seized on the ideas and thought that they could apply to art, especially the idea of crowd-sourcing. I wasn’t alone and long before GLOW was a twinkling in Sharon’s eye, I’d had the good fortune to attended Burning Man. This was around 1993 and the event hadn’t grown to to the remarkable proportions it now boasts. Still it made a deep impression on me. Allowing people the freedom to be creative and giving them the venue was turning out amazing results. Years before I even knew what Burning Man was I had been developing these ideas philosophically and trying to incorporate them into the All Souls Procession.
Though ASP certainly had some of the qualities I was seeking to develop I can’t say that it really took hold at that time. There were a lot of artists who all had different ideas about what it should be but there never seemed to be agreement that it could be all those things (though years later ASP would embrace these ideas independent of anything that had to do with me). When GLOW began it already had that quality built into it. I think that besides the art that I’ve made for GLOW maybe my greatest contribution was to bring what I’d learned from Burning Man and from other open culture venues and make them core values of GLOW. Or I should say to articulate them as core values. Sharon Holnback believes deeply in community and I know that she had come to the same place as I had intuitively -though maybe it hadn’t been put into words at that point.
GLOW was my main creative outlet for the ten years I worked as an I.T. Director. I just didn’t have the time to produce regular shows. The first year I created a multi-media sculpture titled Face to Face. It incorporated live video that was fed through a computer and distorted with various filters. Participants wold walk up to a figure of a man which incorporated a camera in the eye. The results were projected on a weather balloon suspended ten feet overhead.
The second year I built a giant translucent inflated head, titled (maybe not so originality), Head. The interior was illuminated with highly colorful and animated computer graphics which responded to sound input. The head was quite cartoonish, 16 feet wide 14 feet tall. The Following year I built the Space Port Lounge a twenty seven foot tall mono pole tent. It was made out of white shade cloth. The interior was lit with LED and El-Wire elements as well as projections of some five different clips of nuclear bombs going off. Inside it was a lounge with a tea bar, tables and chairs. We served visitors hot ginger tea (free) and invited them to relax while waiting for their planetary shuttle to depart.
I next built two large cardboard sculptures, that were internally lit, Miss Kitty and Guillermo. Miss kitty was about 12 feet tall, Guillermo was a large seated figure. Both these pieces were burned at a later date as part of a performance.
In 2008 I was asked by Scottsdale Public Art to produce a piece for their illuminated art event, Nightlights. I built Chimera for that and it has been a regular fixture at GLOW ever since.
2009 was a big year for me and I exhibited The Time Machine a collaborative work between myself and seven (plus) other artists and technicians. It was a booth where people could have a multi-media experience. They were sent back in time. I also Worked collaboratively with composer programer Michael Carroll and Artist Don Spaulding to build a shadow theater. This was probably the most successful piece I’ve ever been part of, it actually got standing ovations. Sadly we never came up with a name for it.
2010 I was just too busy organizing GLOW to be able to build a piece for it though I did have Chimera and several smaller sculpture on display there was nothing new.
GLOW was life consuming for the three years I helped Sharon organize it. I made the decision to leave so that I could refocus on my art. I hope to continue participating as an artist in GLOW and use my organizational and community building skills to create new events locally and strengthen those open communities that already exist here.