Lights have many purposes: they let us see when it’s dark, they help us drive at night, they brighten up our pictures, and they decorate our homes during the holidays. But what if light can serve as an art form? You’re probably thinking of neon lights and signs, but light-based art goes beyond just neon. POP Austin is back and ready to show you and the art community just how creative artists can get with light.
Article by Maxine Forcey and ChinLin Pan
Back for its second year, the POP Austin International Art Show, with the theme of “Illumination,” will showcase many light-based artists from around Texas and the world on Oct. 23-25 at Fair Market on E. 5th Street. The weekend will kick off with a VIP opening night party on Thursday night, Oct. 22, from 8-11 p.m.
Last year’s debut show did not feature a theme. However, co-founder of POP Austin, Steve Carlson, explained that a party they hosted last year called “Lighting the Way”—which took place in an environment of neon art—inspired them to host this year’s theme of light.
“Over the last year, we started thinking about how many great neon artists lived in Austin and we wanted to feature many of them as well,” Carlson said. “With the recent popularity of so many other internationally renowned light artists, we thought it would be fantastic to expose all different forms of light art.”
The timing of this theme worked out too, since the United Nations named 2015 the International Year of Light.
“Several years ago, the United Nations announced that they would dedicate 2015 to being The International Year of Light, so that’s another reason why we did it,” Carlson said. “It was kind of perfect timing. We wanted to do something to commemorate the International Year of Light, and we also live in a city that’s full of amazing neon artists. It’s interactive, immersive and most importantly, it’s different from the show we did last year.”
“Illumination” will showcase the following artists: Adela Andea, Alyssa Taylor Wendt, Bale Creek Allen, Carlo Bernadini, Claudia Meyer, Evan Voyles, Hans Kotter, James Turrell, Jeongmoon Choi, Jerome Morrison, Lili Lakich, Lisa Schulte, Lori Hersberger, Matthew LaPenta, Nonotak, Sharon Keshishian, and Todd Sanders.
Several artists are new to POP Austin this year, while a few others are returning. Todd Sanders, an accomplished Austinite whose neon pop art has been featured in accredited magazines, films and more will return with two Mexican wrestlers’ masks, created from neon and metal, both standing five feet tall.
Sanders reveals that the best takeaway from being in the show last year are the friends he acquired, some of them being merely “anonymous heroes” to him prior to the event.
“The other thing I took away from the experience was the feeling of showing my work with such a high caliber of artists, and the confidence I gained from it,” Sanders said. “This confidence led me to having my work shown at Samuel Owen Gallery in Nantucket and Greenwich alongside Damien Hirst and Andy Warhol’s art, something I only dreamed of before POP Austin.”
The word “illumination” has two meanings for Sanders: to light up and to demystify, one of which is the tangible goal of his work and the other the antithesis. Sanders is ecstatic about two artists showcasing this year: Sharon Keshishian and Lili Lakich. Both women were instrumental in Sander’s foundations in working with neon as a medium, so essentially he has come full circle.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing so many diverse works of illuminated art in one place. This is a very unique theme, and one that I know will be one of the best shows of the year, anywhere,” he said.
One of the new artists showcasing this year is Alyssa Taylor Wendt, a local multimedia artist who worked on many collaborative art projects. She has performed in New York, Austin, and on the west coast.
“I am honored to be selected for this innovative program, [co-founders] Lana and Steve are doing a great job trying to bring international artists to the Texas and combining that work with local talent from the greater Austin area,” Wendt said.
Wendt will showcase three works of light pieces “based on old-fashioned marquee signs”: Infinite Luzacht (2009), Alchemical Marquetta I (Get Out Fast) and Alchemical Marquetta II (Benzene Earth Wheel).
Being her first time at POP Austin, Wendt looks forward to seeing “the play between local artists and international artists and how we both use light,” in addition to meeting others in the art community.
“I hope to meet more artists in Austin that I don’t know yet and to introduce myself to collectors and visitors new to the Austin art scene. The opening party should be a fantastic night of celebration and art,” Wendt said. “I hope to meet other local creative brains, as I only moved to Austin about three years ago. I am always interested in talking to people about their processes and intentions, whether I personally like the work or not.”
To purchase tickets for the art show, see www.popaustin.com/tickets/.