That chorus of “Ooohs,” and “Ahhhhs” you may have heard at around 8:30p.m. on Friday, Aug. 10, was the response of hundreds of people who had gathered all along the Riverwalk in front of Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park to join Mayor Bob Buckhorn as he pushed the switch which turned on “Agua Luces,” the light installation which has created one of the most engaging, enchanting, and just plain gorgous works of new media art ever put on the planet.
And they’re bridges.
That’s right. Bridges.
Plain old concrete and steel constructions which enable all of us who cannot leap that far, or whose car is not being driven by a professional stunt man to make it across the mighty Hillsborough River which flows right through downtown Tampa.
And during the day, these bridges look downright cranky and dowdy, like the work horses they are meant to be.
But, ooohh, la la, at night, when they get all dolled up from side to side with all of those shimmering, dazzling colors, well, from now on the city of Paris – known as the City of Light, and which also has lighted bridges -will have nothing on Tampa when it comes to the beauty and enchantment that light creates when it is used as a form of sculpture, as part of the many new media art platforms.
Tracey Dear, an artist who works in lighting design, is the master behind this dazzling display of art which now graces our river.
He formed his company in 2004 (http://www.dearproductions.com) and has lit up the stage for musical stars and broadway plays, and outdoor sites such as the Royal Albert Hall in London, and all of the bridges which cross the river which flows through downtown Chicago.
“Much like the ever changing currents, the bridges will constantly change color and appearance. This magic will be reflected in the river, I have, for the first time ever, added image projections into the scheme. There will be wildlife, nature, and local elements and glimpses of recognition of the sights of Tampa. Dear said in a press announcement, from “Lights on Tampa,”(http://www.lightsontampa.org)
“Lights on Tampa,” is a new media art ongoing project in outdoor downtown Tampa, and which is a public/private partnership with the City of Tampa/Art Programs Division(http://www.tampagov.net/artprograms ) and they have lit up this city for several years in stunning outdoor exhibitions of light and art.
Downtown Tampa is certainly primping up for her big date with the Republican National Convention (www.gopconvention2012) which will convene in downtown at the Tampa Bay Times Forum from Aug.27 -Aug. 31.
But, Mayor Buckhorn is adamant that, even though, they sure will be a stunning addition to the many features of downtown Tampa for all of the visitors to the billions of people watching around the world to see, “This is for Tampa, for all of us, for a long time,” he said at the opening night.
Take some time some early evening and get down there and see this remarkable work of art which is for all of us for a long time.
It’s well worth the trip into downtown Tampa.