Green Mountain Falls may not have much in common with the central Red Desert region of Australia, but for the next two months, the two locations with have a strong connection through light.
So bring plenty of Fosters beer to the GMF outback, there mate.
Renowned English artist Bruce Munro has officially unveiled his signature works, Field of Light and Teepees, as part of the annual Green Box Arts Festival. The ninth annual event kicked off Saturday and is slated to continue until July 9. It is peppered with dance performances, classes, community forums, art shows, trail dedications, and yes, signature, internationally-recognized modern artistic installations.
Munro’s work will remain on display through the middle of September. Already, the huge light installations have garnered quite a response from visitors and locals alike. Green Box signature art installations have commanded national attention, since the festival hit the big-time three years ago with the unveiling of the Cloud City display, which once was exhibited on top of the Metropolitan Art Museum in New York City.
“I didn’t know how I was going to have to pull another rabbit out of the hat,” quipped Christian Kirpatrick Keesee, the founder of the Green Box Arts Festival, which started in 2009, during a preview event last week.
His said festival organizers were fascinated with Munro’s work and also viewed him as an artist who would enjoy interacting with local residents and visitors. He cited community involvement as a key ingredient to the success of the Green Box Arts Festival.
But Keesee admits that since Green Box started doing signature installation pieces, exhibited over a longer period, festival organizers have faced a daunting challenge in meeting growing expectations. “How do we beat what we have done the last couple of years?” questioned the Green Box Arts founder.
For the 2017 festival, organizers are making a bold effort with the signature, Munro light installations that they believe will develop a strong a connection with the community and the mountain landcape.
Motivation Behind Field of Light
Last week, Munro described his inspiration behind both works that stemmed from his strong interest in light and in recreating natural landscapes.
His more well-known Field of Light actually stemmed from a cross-country trip he took in Australia in the early 1990s, 26 years ago, with a then girlfriend at the time. Munro was mesmerized by the Red Desert landscape and it took him 12 years for him to convert his piece from the conceptual stage to an actual artistic, light display. The piece, now displayed at the Flagpole Park in Green Mountain Falls, is created from 3,000 strands of light from glass and fiber, illuminating the night landscape in a unique manner. According to the artist, the work may conjure up different memories and images for viewers. He said the piece often strikes a jolt of emotions.
“It is like a person to me,” said Munro, when describing the Field of Light work.
Ironically, the piece hit the spotlight when he installed 15,000 lights in a field outside his rural home in England. “It caught fire,” said Munro, in describing the publicity garnered from this work, originally sparked by mere word of mouth.
Since then, the display has frequented various museums and cities across the world. “It has been wandering around the world,” said Munro, during a sneak preview of his work last week.
However, one of his most memorable memories involved a disabled, dying woman, who personally visited the piece in Australia as part of a healing gesture. Following this experience, the woman found herself “bursting into tears.” She died shortly after this viewing, but the experience brought much joy to her final days due to her spiritual connection with the desert landscape. “I never made a piece of art that moved people like this,” noted Munro. ‘It (this experience) had a strong effect on me.”
He admits people may get different impressions of the Field of Light installation. Although to him, it represents the desert outback landscape of Australia, others may receive different impressions.
The artist also complimented the many local volunteers who assembled the work for a number of days in Green Mountain Falls.
His other signature work on display is called Teepees, and is inspired by the Dancing with the Wolves epic story and features 10 Native American Indian tepee light structures. It is shown in the Mountain Road Corner, directly across from the trailhead parking lot on Ute Pass Avenue, in the east section of GMF.
Munro jokingly tells viewers that this piece would be ideal for listening to a prime piece of rock or classical/jazz music with head phones at night, when the teepees lite up. “Dance with the light of the teepees,” suggested the artist. (Actually, the installation would be ideal for a Pink Floyd, Yes, Moody Blues or Weather Report album, just for a few suggestions.)
On a more practical purpose, the piece was actually assembled as a way to protect chickens from getting attacked by foxes in a rural area in England.
Munro is a strong believer in the value of art and the way it connects with people, overcomes world cruelties and inspires emotions. The talkative artist also isn’t shy about unveiling great anecdotes regarding his Field of Light and Teepees work experiences, and outlining his strong view of art. He cited the importance of creating a strong connection with art viewers and fellow travelers.
“Without the visitors we don’t have a piece of art. We need each other.”