Dazzling light installations will illuminate walkways along Waller Creek on Thursday in an effort to remind the public of a creek they may have forgotten.
In an effort to spread awareness about the city’s plans to develop five parks along the creek, the Waller Creek Conservancy will be holding a free light show Thursday night.
There will be a total of five installations, all focused on the concept of illuminating the creek to the public and revealing its potential beauty. Installations can be seen starting at sunset and will range from a floating light bridge to facts about the creek presented directly on walls with phosphorescent paint. The Austin-based architects responsible for the installations will be present to discuss their work.
The Waller Creek Conservancy’s district runs from Lady Bird Lake to 15th Street. They are partnered with the city and hope to make the Creek Show an annual event.
The conservancy has reached out to businesses that run along the creek. Easy Tiger will host a Happy Hour, and Empire Control Room is planning a show with local bands.
Meredith Bossin, graduate student and director of operations and management for the conservancy, said Waller Creek is often overlooked and underappreciated. The conservancy hopes to unveil its potential to be a vibrant public space.
“It’s kind of this abandoned, underutilized area,” Bossin said. “The idea with Creek Show is that it will really be experiencing Waller Creek in a way that has never been done before.”
Bossin said that sections of the creek that are normally inaccessible to the public will be open in order to travel the full length of the installations without having to go up to the street level.
“We are building this project to be an amenity for all of Austin; we want to make sure that people know that we are doing this and that there will be advocates for us as we are in the process of implementation,” Bossin said.
Bossin explained the development of the parks could take years, but it is important to gain momentum in the public.
Architecture lecturer Murray Legge is one of the architects contributing at the light show. His project focuses on using electro-luminescent wire to create a hanging light bridge.
“With public art, you try and create work that has different levels of meaning,” Legge said. “We like it to be really sophisticated and intellectually challenging and engaging, but, at the same time, it has to have a clarity and a simplicity to it.”
Legge explained that the transformative power of design will help people imagine the potential of the creek. He said the ephemeral effects of the lights are meant to help people understand how the creek could be an interesting public space.
Jason Sowell, associate professor for architecture, has been doing research on the creek to find material for his statistic-based painting. Using phosphorescent paint to write on the walls surrounding the creek, Sowell said he thought a lot about ambient light and how the public will be interacting with his piece.
“The interaction of the public with the work in terms of the shadows that they cast on the graphics will allow for different levels of illumination to occur,” Sowell said. “It’s a subtle project that hopefully, in the end, communicates some significant changes that the infrastructure has imparted.”
Legge said Austin has a lot of raw, green spaces that have great potential, and developing them could raise the quality of life in Austin. Legge said forward-thinking projects, such as the Waller Creek Light Show, help citizens embrace growth and have the potential to make Austin a more cosmopolitan city.