Artists Set Santa Cruz Aglow with 'Light and Fire'

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Suffering from Post-Burn Blues? The GLOW Light and Fire Festival might help. The two-night event is spearheaded by local artists Steve Cooper and Drew Detweiler. Cooper brings the Fire, curating his Burner friends' art for locals who didn't make it to the Playa. Detweiller, a full-time video projection and installation artist, brings the Light component through his network of friends who are more on the tech side of things. Turns out there was so much interest from artists wanting to participate and the huge crowd that showed up (literally like moths to flames) the event had to be split into two evenings.

A dizzying array of visuals, sounds and performances are packed into the relatively small Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, but the museum's willingness to partner with artists and creatives is a big win for the community. The venue provides space and resources while keeping the artists at the helm, which ensures an authentic experience -- for a place like Santa Cruz, this is crucial.

“The Santa Cruz audience is awesome because they’re so open and playful and ready to experiment. They’re willing to try new interfaces and experiences,” says Detweiller.

Tim Thompson, Space Palette
Tim Thompson, Space Palette

Of the hundred participating artists, many are well known and respected in art circles, but what really stands out is how gifted many of them are at turning mere spectators into active, creative participants. Take for example Tim Thompson’s Space Palette, featured during the Light night at the fest. An easy thrust of the hands through a self-standing wood frame produces a haunting melody and projects psychedelic patterns on the wall -- simple enough, but actually highly engineered. Thompson is right there to geek out if you care to delve into the inner workings of his machine. The Fire night is not quite so hands on (understandably so), but exciting none the less due to our primal answering of the call for heat and illumination in the chill of an autumn night. Spectacular fire belching sculptures, musical instruments set ablaze and Brazilian circus performers create a frenzied energy, while accompanying electro-beats inspire dancing in the street.

GLOW: A Festival of Fire and Light is October 17 & 18, 2014 at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History. For tickets and information, visit