The Arts

Some­thing Dif­fer­ent, Bold and Bright

Bonita & Estero Magazine - - DEPARTMENTS - BY JEFF L YTLE

Press­ing ahead to the next level is noth­ing new for one of the largest arts or­ga­ni­za­tions in south Lee County and all of South­west Flor­ida. The Art League of Bonita Springs has evolved into Cen­ters for the Arts Bonita Springs, or CFABS. It has two sep­a­rate cam­puses and pro­grams mer­it­ing their own brands—Cen­ter for the Vis­ual Arts, on Old U.S. 41, and Cen­ter for the Per­form­ing Arts, on Bonita Beach Road.

The con­glom­er­ate spon­sors three of the area’s largest arts fes­ti­vals ev­ery year, on­go­ing ex­hibits of mem­bers’ works and trav­el­ing works, con­certs of all kinds, film f es­ti­vals for grownups and chil­dren, and much more. Now, some­thing dif­fer­ent, bold and bright that prom­ises to light up Bonita is in the wings for the 2018 hol­i­day sea­son.

In Novem­ber and De­cem­ber, CFABS hopes to team up with City Hall to spon­sor a night lights art ex­trav­a­ganza, known as a light fes­ti­val, at venues all over the city. Artists from across the coun­try who paint with color and light will be in­vited to shine their mov­ing and still im­ages on the fa­cades of big build­ings at both arts cam­puses. Some works of light art might fea­ture ex­ist­ing trees or even stat­ues. Pos­si­bil­i­ties go on and on.

Spec­ta­tors could pick and choose how many or how few ex­hibits they want to en­joy each evening—at no charge. Maps will be pub­lished and there will be plenty of time for res­i­dents and guests to ad­mire this one-of-a-kind, multi-venue show­case. Thus, the no­tion that staff mem­bers of the arts cen­ters spend 90 per­cent of their time plan­ning for 10 per­cent of the year is taken to a new level.

“The imag­i­na­tive use of light is a rel­a­tively new part of the cre­ation of works of art,’’ ex­plains Herm Kis­siah, chair­man of CFABS. “Through the fes­ti­val, we are chal­leng­ing our com­mu­nity to con­sider how light can en­hance and cre­ate works of art. Our artist com­mu­nity will be re­quired to look at a new medium in their at­tempt to de­velop a new sense of mean­ing in their cre­ations.’’

The pres­i­dent of CFABS, Su­san Bridges, says the idea for the light expo did not come about overnight. In­spired in part by light shows at the At­lanta Botan­i­cal Gar­den, she ex­plains, it has been on the draw­ing board for nearly three years—cut short in fall 2017 by the im­pact of hurricanes and wild­fires on light artists across Flor­ida, Texas and Cal­i­for­nia.

Bridges says Bonita dis­plays might in­clude real-time video im­ages of spec­ta­tors them­selves. Chil­dren may be en­listed to craft dis­plays made of plas­tic bot­tles filled with strings of hol­i­day tree lights. The sky is the limit, she says, while adding that the expo will not in­clude cliché laser lights shot into night skies. And nei­ther will it fea­ture rogue artists who make stealth pro­jec­tions on ran­dom build­ings and move on the next night, as in some metropoli­tan lo­ca­tions.

The Bonita Springs Area Cham­ber of Com­merce is a part­ner, help­ing CFABS re­cruit busi­nesses to serve as pro­jec­tion screens. CFABS is also ask­ing schools to par­tic­i­pate, from the el­e­men­tary level to

The Bonita Springs Area Cham­ber of Com­merce is a part­ner, help­ing CFABS re­cruit busi­nesses to serve as pro­jec­tion screens.

col­lege. Young­sters might work with re­cy­cled plas­tic bot­tles, while Flor­ida Gulf Coast Uni­ver­sity and Flor­ida South­west­ern State Col­lege might tap fac­ulty and stu­dents to de­sign dis­plays— with CFABS go­ing an ex­tra mile by of­fer­ing to de­fray ex­penses.

All told, the light fes­ti­val, which is hoped to be­come an an­nual event, is not de­signed to make money for CFABS, at least at first. Bridges says the goal is to raise aware­ness of Bonita, its land­marks and its arts com­mu­nity.

In­deed. South­west Flor­ida, no stranger to host­ing spe­cial events as eye-catch­ing as hot-air bal­loon races, fire­works con­tests and per­sonal water­craft ac­ro­bat­ics, is in for a spe­cial treat.

“The fes­ti­val of light ex­hibits around the world have been hugely suc­cess­ful, not only be­cause the pub­lic venues give more peo­ple the time and op­port unity to ex­pe­ri­ence them, but also the na­ture of the ex­hibit al­lows the en­tire com­mu­nity to par­tic­i­pate,’’ says Nigel Ful­lick, chair­man of the city’s Art in Pub­lic Places Com­mit­tee. “Our un­der­stand­ing is that we would ac­cept en­tries from pro­fes­sional, am­a­teur and, per­haps most im­por­tantly, young/stu­dent artists. Much like the Big Dog ex­hi­bi­tion we did in the fall of 2014, the light fes­ti­val can run for sev­eral weeks so the en­tire com­mu­nity has an op­por­tuni

ty to ex­pe­ri­ence it — and it’s free!’’

Through the fes­ti­val, we are chal­leng­ing our com­mu­nity to con­sider how light can en­hance and cre­ate works of art.” —Herm Kis­siah, chair­man of CFABS

Pho­tos from light fes­ti­vals around the world give ex­am­ples of what the CFABS event might be like. Top left is a build­ing in Poland. Be­low shows spe­cial light­ing of a large tree in Syd­ney. It is in­spir­ing Bonita fes­ti­val plan­ners to try some­thing...

At top is Syd­ney’s Mu­seum of Con­tem­po­rary Art, with its front en­cased in light­ing. A light fes­ti­val ex­hibit in Rio de Janeiro (be­low), held on the beach, in­cluded fish fash­ioned from re­cy­cled plas­tic bot­tles.

Top shows a light fes­ti­val ex­hibit in Thai­land. Be­low, the light­ing on Syd­ney’s Mu­seum of Con­tem­po­rary Art re­minds view­ers of a Jack­son Pol­lock paint­ing.

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