Blank walls at eight locations in downtown Astoria will come to life with light, color and sound 8 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 13 and 14, during “iLLUMiNART/Astoria” — a multimedia exhibition celebrating creativity, inspiration and shared experience.
The two-day, all-ages festival — involving local businesses, artists and community organizations — is free to the public.
Lisa Smith, president of Astoria Visual Arts, explained that iLLUMiNART/Astoria is “the brainchild of the brilliant Jeff Daly, who came to AVA a few months ago to ask if we’d like to co-sponsor it with him.
“He made a knock-out presentation, and the AVA board jumped on the opportunity to join forces.”
Daly, a ubiquitous local personality and community enthusiast, has been projecting images onto walls downtown for about a year and a half.
Bright lights, small city
“We’re using walls, we’re using locations that many people would consider to be abandoned,” Daly said. “There will be video, audio, colors, lights, music almost everywhere. Computer generated graphics, dance music, pets and giggles.
“We find a theme and just put it on a wall,” he continued. “Sometimes it’s something as simple as a visual billboard, or it could be a 20-minute film. Then we watch people’s reactions.
“What you find out is that you only get an audience so long — maybe 30 seconds sometimes — so it’s like running a TV show, quickly and concisely.”
During iLLUMiNART, there will be projections looping and running simultaneously at several locations downtown, each within walking distance of the others. With so many projections on offer, viewers can pick and choose.
“If you want to dance, go to one spot. If you want to see something new, go to another spot,” Daly said. “Let’s make it Mardi Gras-ish.”
Daly believes that when people feel the energy and see the success of the event, it’ll become something that makes them ask: “How can we make this happen all the time?”
“I want people to dig it and get curious about how to make this an annual event,” he said. “We need stuff to happen here in the off months. We’re all looking for something to do on a dark night.”
Smith agrees. “By supporting this project, we at Astoria Visual Arts hope to bring the light of creativity into the dark of the Pacific Northwest’s rainy spring and encourage and promote new ways of linking art and architecture and light and technology.”
But there’s more …
There is also an “augmented reality” app that everybody can download.
“Wherever there’s a projection, you can hold your phone up and 3D graphics will appear,” Daly said. “So kids can do something with their phones while the parents enjoy it in real time.”
In addition to the wall projections, Seattle artist Jeff Mihalyo will be driving Daly’s quirky, musical Glam Tram around town, performing what they call “guerrilla video” that casts pictures and film unpredictably onto places, things and even people from a mobile projection wagon.
Globe lighting will illuminate the 13th Street pedestrian alley connecting Commercial and Duane streets as part of an ADHDA drive to gather funds for full-time lighting along the often less-than-appealing passage.
“We want it to become a happy, brightly-lit place that people actually want to walk down,” Daly said.
To top it off, there’s also “Trogdor,” a 14-foot, 3,000-pound mechanical dragon that spews actual balls of flame.
A final, memorable surprise is also in store.
“I can’t reveal it all, but we’re going to light up the night like it’s never been done before in Astoria,” Daly said. “They’re gonna know for miles around when it’s eight o’clock downtown. Hey, that rhymes!”
1. The Pit (event headquarters), 1125 Marine Drive
“Mish Mash,” a 30-minute film by Jeff Daly with giggles, graphics and dance music.
2. Bruski’s Dock, foot of 11th Street on the Riverwalk
“97103,” still pictures by Michael Mathers of activities on the Columbia River from the shore and on the water.
3. Fisher Brothers Building, foot of 12th Street on the Riverwalk
“Snippets,” variety of short films by Jennifer Goodenberger.
4. Wells Fargo, 1218 Commercial St.
“The Optimist Club,” an experimental instrumental musical and visual experience by artists Larry Yes, Toussaint Perrault and William Rihel.
5. 13th Street alley connecting Commercial and Duane streets
“Lucky 13,” illumination as part of an ADHDA fundraiser for permanent lighting.
6. Reach Break Brewing, 1343 Duane St.
“Tango for You, Too,” Tango dancing projections and dancers. Audience participation encouraged.
7. Columbia Travel, 382 12th St.
“Where We Began,” images from The Afar region of Ethiopia by Joni Kabana, paired with music composed by her son, Aaron Opsahl.
8. American Legion Hall, 1132 Exchange St.
“Trogdor,” a fourteen-foot, fire-spewing dragon
9. 11th Street
“Light Up The Night,” SkyTracker four-head searchlight