By Mary Abbe
San Francisco artist Camille Utterback will be in St. Louis Park on Jan. 11 for the official dedication of her interactive light sculpture, “Aurora Organ.” The piece consists of six long light tubes dangling from the ceiling of the 80 ft. atrium of the Showplace Theaters in a new mall, The Shops at West End. “Aurora” consists of full color RGB LED lights that are activated by touch sensors controlled by custom-designed software. The sensors are inset into the wooden railing of the theater’s grand staircase. When visitors tap or touch them, a band of color ripples through one of the light columns. Colors move faster or slower, up or down, depending on how visitors touch the railing — taps produce short bursts of color; holding creates a long streak of color. New colors blend and overlap older patterns.
A 2009 winner of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship — the so-called “genius” grant — Utterback has done commissions for the American Museum of Natural History in New York, The Pittsburgh Children’s Museum, the Sacramento Airport and other public sites. A graduate of Williams College and New York University, she’s shown her work at more than 50 venues on four continents. For more pictures go to http://www.camilleutterback.com
Utterback’s $95,000 sculpture was commissioned by the city of St. Louis Park with the assistance of Forecast Public Art, a non-profit consulting firm based in St. Paul. Twin Cities sculptor Foster Willey Jr. also designed a $90,000 plaza for the complex. Called “The Bee Way” it incorporates two pre-cast concrete column sculptures, a bench and thematic paving. Money for the art came from the project’s developer, Duke Realty, Inc.
(Utterback dedication 6 p.m. Jan 11, free. Kerasotes ShowPlace ICON Theater, The Shops at West End, W 16th St. and Park Place Blvd. St. Louis Park, www.theshopsatwestend.com)
Photo of Utterback installation by Dan Marshal Photo