Illuminate SF: San Francisco becomes a “gallery of light art” in winter

Published on : Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Zoetrope-300x161 (2)Illuminate SF transforms San Francisco’s long winter evenings in December and January into a citywide gallery of light art. Visitors can experience six dramatic light art installations – some permanent, some temporary – and participate in artist talks and illuminated walks.

An online guide with event information, photos, descriptions and background information about the installations and their creators is available at

The Illuminate SF light art installations include:

The Bay Lights – The world’s largest LED light sculpture, 1.8 miles wide and 500 feet high. Inspired by the Bay Bridge’s 75th Anniversary, its 25,000 white LED lights are individually programmed by artist Leo Villareal to create a never-repeating, dazzling display across the Bay Bridge’s west span. On view through 2015.

Firefly – Created by celebrated environmental artist Ned Kahn, Firefly is a nearly 12-story kinetic sculpture that was commissioned by the San Francisco Arts Commission for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC) new state-of-the-art headquarters. Kahn’s Firefly is a lattice of tens of thousands of five-inch-square, clear-polycarbonate panels hinged to allow them to move freely in the wind. Permanent installation.

Language of the Birds – A permanent site-specific sculpture by San Francisco artists Brian Goggin and Dorka Keehn, located at the intersection of Broadway and Columbus avenues. Suspended books mimic birds in motion with various wing positions created by the forms of the pages and bindings. At night LED lights embedded within the books create visual patterns. Permanent installation.

Future’s Past – First exhibited at Burning Man 2010, Future’s Past is an intricate metal sculpture standing 24 feet tall. The quiet, contained space provokes, invites and nurtures introspection and examination of the relationship between nature, technology as well as culture and tells a story of civilization being reclaimed by nature. On view through May 2014.

Homouroboros – A large-scale interactive zoetrope by San Francisco artist Peter Hudson in the Exploratorium’s public plaza at Pier 15. At 24-feet-tall, the work’s tree-like steel frame and mushroom, cloud-shaped canopy feature 18 human-sized monkeys that dangle from its branches. By pounding on drums built into the base of the trunk, spectators cause the top of the tree to spin, turning the monkeys on their branches into a vision-bending arboreal escapade. On view through December 31, 2013.

Three Gems – A subterranean installation commissioned specifically for the sculpture garden at the deYoung Museum. It features a view of the sky altered by LED lighting effects highlighted by changing light and weather conditions outside. Permanent installation.

Upcoming Events:

On Dec. 5, the Black Rock Arts Foundation (BRAF) and Illuminate the Arts will offer a free walking tour called The IlluminArts Walk. Participants are invited to don lighted gear and illuminated wearable art, and engage in an evening of participatory pageantry. The IlluminArts Walk is a strolling light installation at the human scale – where participants become art by illuminating their most festive evening finery and walk from North Beach to the Embarcadero.

The tour begins at 5 p.m. in North Beach at the Language of the Birds installation (pedestrian plaza at intersection of Columbus and Broadway) where BRAF Executive Director Tomas McCabe will introduce artists Brian Goggin and Dorka Keehn. The artists will share their tales of inspiration, creation and installation of the work which features solar-powered books mimicking birds in flight, created in conjunction with scientist David Shearer and City Lights Bookstore.

The tour will include vistas of The Bay Lights, the world’s largest LED light sculpture, with behind the scenes particulars from Bay Lights Executive Producer Amy Critchett. The 25,000 white LED lights are individually programmed by artist Leo Villareal to create a never-repeating, dazzling display across the Bay Bridge’s west span.

The processional concludes at the Exploratorium where participants take part in Homouroboros, a large-scale interactive zoetrope by San Francisco artist Peter Hudson who will be in attendance and describe his ground breaking, inventive and interactive art piece.

Also on December 5, the Exploratorium will be hosting After Dark: Glow, their adults-only evening program, with a number of activities exploring ioluminescence, florescence and phosphorescent artwork and activities. Light-focused artworks that will be on display include the installations by Ruby Bettencourt & Jeff Howe’s Whirld (viewable from outside the museum), and Mark Lottor’s, Cubatron Core. Museum admission fees apply.

Several other events related to Illuminate SF are scheduled to occur throughout San Francisco before December 31.

Docent tours, free with paid admission, will include of James Turrell’s Three Gems at the Osher Sculpture Garden at the de Young Museum.
Westfield’s iconic dome comes to life each night with this brand-new 3D light show that showcases the beloved San Francisco Ballet holiday tradition in an innovative new format, promising to capture the imagination of young and old.Nutcracker Under the Dome runs nightly through December 31, every half hour from 5:00pm until the Centre’s closing.

More events will be added at as the season progresses.

“Illuminate SF is intended as an annual activity during the November and December months,” said Lisa Hasenbalg, director of arts and culture marketing with the San Francisco Travel Association. “There are already light installations planned for 2014, 2015 and 2016 which will include talks with the artists.”

The San Francisco Travel Association is the official tourism marketing organization for the City and County of San Francisco. For information on reservations, activities and more, visit or call 415-391-2000. The Visitor Information Center is located at 900 Market St. in Hallidie Plaza, lower level, near the Powell Street cable car turnaround.

American Express® is the official Card partner of the San Francisco Travel Association.

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) offers non-stop flights to more than 31 international points on 30 international carriers. The Bay Area’s largest airport connects non-stop with 76 cities in the U.S. on 15 domestic airlines. For up-to-the-minute departure and arrival information, airport maps and details on shopping, dining, cultural exhibitions, ground transportation and more, visit

Source:- SFT

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