Last year, Grand Park joined a host of groups across Los Angeles County and got into the holiday spirit with a winter lights display. Like the bright and colorful light show at the L.A. Zoo, Grand Park was filled with large, and unique displays, but unlike their often-ticketed counterparts, what sets Grand Park apart is its free.
The event was a success, drawing close to 25,000 people to the 12-acre park to check out the artwork, prompting the staff at the Music Center, the entity that runs the park, to return this year with a sophomore effort.
Dubbed Winter Glow, the event returned to the park on Dec. 6 and will be on display through Christmas Day. The exhibition brings 20 large, and sometimes interactive pieces to the park, crafted by local artists. The event is open daily, sunset to 10 p.m.
Grand Park Interim Director Julia Diamond said that the idea sprung from the litany of holiday displays that can be found in the region, but also by interpreting the similarities between the different holidays typically celebrated during the winter months: Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanza. Diamond said that the team found light to be the main constant.
“When we looked across the holidays that people celebrate around this time of year, they all surround light,” Diamond said. “The unifying thread seems to be light.”
However, an opportunity to highlight Los Angeles took a slight advantage over highlighting the holidays.
“Since the park has opened, we have had holiday decorations, but Grand Park is really intended to celebrate Los Angeles,” Diamond said. “We do that in a large park by working through community partners and showcasing the work of local artists.”
Eighteen of the 20 works in Winter Glow are completely new pieces, with a few artists returning with updates on previous art pieces. Most are from local artists, including the Boyle Heights-based Aphidoidea Design Center.
Last year, the team installed “A Spark of Light,” on the eastern leg of the park. A dome-like structure, the art piece had interactive elements that were a hit with children and families, according to Aphidoidea member Jesus Eduardo Magana. The dome, which allowed visitors to interact with a number of sensors to manipulate the piece, is returning this year, but with a few tweaks.
The piece is now called “Coralation,” and touches on the degradation of the coral reefs. It’s located on the Grand Park performance lawn and retains much of its interactive elements.
“It has a reef theme and the idea if that you go inside of this giant coral and you’re the one that is having this interaction with the coral, very similar to an anemone or clown fish. That was kind of the intent behind it,” Magana said.
Other works include “Fascination 2.0,” from the team of Cassandra Carrillo and Carlos G. Rodas, a 20-foot tall geometric dome filled with magical lights, shapes and illusions and “SEEN & UNSEEN” from Amber Navaroo, which utilizes a collection of black lights and historic images of buildings in Downtown Los Angeles to paint an image of Downtown. Both pieces are located on the Grand Park lawn.
The Grand Park fountain, an original piece of the park, is also getting in on the action with a new light show that will be held at regular intervals at the park.
Diamond, said that they really wanted to elevate the offerings this year.
“We wanted to take it to the next step,” Diamond said. “There are some hands on stuff and some beautiful ideas expressed through light.”
The team made a few tweaks and alterations to the event this year based off of their experience setting up last year’s iteration. Instead of 13 of the pieces being made in-house by the Grand Park design team, this year, only eight pieces were made internally, with the rest being made by local artists. Diamond said that the Grand Park team made a more conscious effort to further integrate the park itself into the display, including illuminating the park’s foliage and trees and pathways.
The biggest change is that Winter Glow now extends to the recently renovated Music Center Plaza. Outside of the County’s official Christmas tree, the plaza will hold two different pieces, an Illuminated Tree Forest, from artist Doron Gazit and a 5-foot illuminated structure made of painted fiberglass from Lorenzo Hurtado Segovia. The Grand Park team also installed general lighting at the plaza, to further develop the ambiance.
In addition, Diamond said that she believes that extending the event to the Music Center Plaza will encourage more people to check out the space who previously haven’t.
“In the same way that Winter Glow is an opportunity to see Grand Park, in the same way, I think the same will be true for the plaza,” Diamond said.
Winter Glow is open daily from sunset to 10 p.m. through Dec. 25 at Grand Park, 200 N. Grand Ave., (213) 972-8080 or grandparkla.org.