This summer, art lovers in the Pikes Peak region will have the opportunity to see three installations by a world-famous artist who thinks big - and bright.
England native Bruce Munro will install works at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and the Green Box Arts Festival in Green Mountain Falls.
Light is often Munro's vehicle because "I felt like it's the most simple medium. Because it's ephemeral, you're not littering the planet with the permanence of your endeavor," he said.
For more than three decades, Munro, 57, has created grand-scale, often-illuminated installations all over the world. His work has been displayed at museums including the Guggenheim in New York and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.
Making art from light in various forms wasn't always Munro's vision. "I wanted to be a painter so much, but I was awful at it," he recalled with a chuckle. "I always wanted to create art where I didn't know what the process is, to grasp periods of life in a space."
He added, "I never thought I would end up doing this. It was just lucky."
'Something edible about color'
At the FAC, Munro's installation will be inspired by Arthur C. Clarke's 1968 book "2001: A Space Odyssey (Space Odyssey #1)" and director Stanley Kubrick's film based on the then cutting-edge sci-fi book.
"Kubrick had seen in the 1970s that a computer could be smarter than man," Munro said. It was a before-its-time concept, he noted.
In the story, there's an intense chess game between the HAL 9000 supercomputer and astronaut Dr. Frank Poole (played by Gary Lockwood) that captured Munro's attention. His artwork at the FAC will be a wall filled with rows of 30 colorful Formica chess boards titled "Thank You For A Very Enjoyable Game" (a quote from HAL in the movie, after he soundly beats Poole in chess). The boards are positioned in order of moves made in a chess game.
Munro said that while he doesn't play chess, he always has been fascinated by the game.
"A chess board is a rather beautiful thing," Munro said. "Part of this was because I had a wish to work with Formica - those sheets of color. You'd quite like to have them in your house. There's something edible about color."
The exhibit will be accompanied by a soundtrack of chimes, designed to evoke a chess clock timer.
"This is not an illuminated pieced. A lot of people assume because I work in light (that it would be). But there is sunlight," Munro said.
The exhibit will be displayed on a wall in the Smith Family Gallery, which is bathed in natural light.
Amanda Weston, media relations and outreach manager for the FAC, spoke to the significance of having Munro's work displayed, come July, at two locations in the region.
"It means a lot to have an artist like Bruce Munro showing art at the Fine Arts Center and Green Box Arts Festival. We just love doing collaborations and being able to tell a story and connect the community to different organizations," she said. "Also, this gives the community something spectacular."
Lighting up Green Box
One of Munro's installations at Green Box Arts Festival will be inspired by his 2016 large-scale installation "Field of Light" at Uluru - the massive, navel-shaped rock in Australia's Northern Territory. Munro, who lived in Australia for a time and had visited the rock some 25 years before, realized his artistic vision by installing 50,000 solar-powered, color-changing bulbs at the base of the rural site.
"I felt incredibly alive in that space," he said. "I was wanting to express the sort of energy that I felt."
It took a dozen years for his concept to get to paper, and ultimately Munro - along with 12 artists from his studio - created the piece in his backyard in rural England. He then was invited back to Uluru to realize his vision.
Munro's second installation at Green Box will be a piece called "Tepees," which he first created in 2013 at Waddesdon Manor in the U.K. The father of four came up with the idea at his home in Wiltshire.
"My wife keeps chickens, and they were being eaten by foxes," he said. So Munro made tepees of light using 70-80 vertical rods - each "popping" every few seconds - to scare the foxes. "I thought, 'That looks like fun.'"
"Tepees" will feature "interactive light combinations that flash so quickly the naked eye will never see the full tepee lit up. Drawing inspiration from the American West, these large fluorescent light tubes formed into tepees will be featured at Mountain Road Corner," Rachel Shortt, marketing director for the festival, wrote in an email.
The festival, begun in 2009 as a dance residency, is an arts tradition supported by the Kirkpatrick family of Oklahoma, which has ties to Green Mountain Falls.
"Every year it is an artist-in-residency program, a place for artists to come and create works of art in the atmosphere of the beauty of Green Mountain Falls," Shortt told The Gazette in a previous interview.