The Light Painting World Exhibition: A Personal Account by Eric Mellinger
About two years ago, I connected with a Russian light painter, Sergey Churkin, who goes by “Chukos” in the Flickr universe. We commented on each other’s work and became Flickr buddies and Facebook friends, as is normal in the social media outlets. Last year, Sergey planned a trip to New York City where I live, and we met along with David Schlaich and a few other willing light junkies for two nights of light painting madness around Central Park and Roosevelt Island. During this meet up, Sergey told me he had an idea for a light painting exhibition of some of the best light painters in the world, and that the exhibition should be on plasma screens instead of having works printed on paper. He told me he was thinking about starting a guild of sorts called the “Light Painting World Alliance” (LPWA) and asked me if I was interested in joining and if I could pitch the idea here in New York. I thought these were great ideas and gave an emphatic yes to everything!
I did not have much luck in my pitches as most New York exhibition spaces are very snobbish in their acceptance of new ideas, but Sergey persevered. In just one year, he managed to attract some of the biggest talents in light painting to join the alliance and post an amazing portfolio of images on the LPWA website www.lpwalliance.com. Most impressively, Sergey received sponsorship for a major exhibit in Russia. Getting sponsorship is challenging enough, but Sergey managed to get an exhibit in the Central House of Artists, the largest and most visited art exhibition space in Russia! With technical sponsor, Philips, Sergey’s vision of an exhibit on plasma screens was realized this past weekend, with 58 artists displaying 100 individual light painting photographs. There is no doubt that this was the biggest group show and most comprehensive collection of master light paintings displayed under one roof in history. I was fortunate enough to have two of my works displayed, as well as travel to this historic event.
The Central House of Artists looks like a massive U.S.A. convention hall! The enormous space contains a permanent gallery of 20th century master Russian painters, including three enormous Kandinsky originals that I had only seen in books. The building is surrounded by sculptures of all sizes and styles and is located across the street from Gorky Park in the center of Moscow. LPWA’s exhibition was part of Moscow’s “Circle of Light” festival, which included laser light shows in Gorky Park, the Central House of Artists and in Red Square, along with a who’s who of innovative professional lighting organizations from around the world.
After an unusually warm and sunny afternoon on Friday, clouds rolled in and a downpour ensued just as the light show began last Friday night. I spent most of the event protecting my gear from wayward umbrellas and the driving rain while also trying to snap a few shots. I managed to get in a fairly decent shot of the finale. The enormous fabric globe was illuminated by computerized projections. For all the “orbers” out there, this was the orb of all orbs! At about 15 meters high, the ball was the centerpiece of the Red Square light show, with the surrounding buildings and laser and pyrotechnic show being used to draw more attention to the globe.
While I was off getting drenched at the light show (and afterwards being initiated into how Russians drink vodka), the light painting exhibition opened at the Central House of Artists. The crowds were large! The exhibition space attracted approximately 5,000 to 7,000 visitors each day, and there was never a time when LPWA’s exhibit wasn’t packed with visitors taking snapshots on their iPhones and admiring the works. In fact, there is no question that LPWA’s show was the most popular attraction of all!
While the admirers were asking Sergey questions about how light painting was done, LPWA had a photo booth set up where the St. Petersburg artist known as Light Graffiti took portraits of visitors who wanted to experience light painting first-hand. People waited over two hours just to have their portraits taken!
The exhibition included works from light painting legends, Eric Staller, Jozef Sedlak, Vicki DaSilva, Kamil Varga and John Hesketh. Legends using film! This website’s very own Jason Page had two works shown, as well as well-known light painters, many of them recognized on this site! The complete list of artists is as follows:
Santiago Di Lorenzo
Armenia: David Galstyan
Canada: Charles Landriault, Patrick Rochon
Czech Republic: Kamil Varga
Finland: Hannu Huhtamo, Janne Parviainen
France: Julien Breton, Diliz, Jadikan, MASS Lighter, Rezine, Swit LightGraff
Germany: Nicolas Chibac, Alexandr Gnezdilov, Lightmark, Kunstiergeneinschaft Licht & Form , Miedza Lightart Photograph, Lichtfaktor, Chris Noelie, JanLeonardo Wollert
Japan: Trevor Williams
Netherlands: Hugo Baptista
Russia: Hory Ma , Alex Krivstov , Vladimir Mihailutsa, Zahar Nazarenko , Elena Nosova, Marina Nikitina (a.k.a. Onil) Victor Ribas
Solvakia: Jozef Sedlak
Spain: Alfredo Alvarez
Switzerland: Anton Julmy, Versi
United Kingdom: Christophe Allirot, Diana Goss , Alan Jaras, Neale Smithies, Jon Steele, Dan Whitaker, Rosetta Whitehead
United States: Dennis Calvert, Aurora Crowley, Vicki DaSilva , Steven Erra, Brian Matthew Hart , John Hesketh, David Hall , Jeremy Jackson, Jahdakine , Eric Mellinger, Mike Newcomer , Jason D. Page, Darren Pearson , David Schlaich , Eric Staller
Uzbekistan: Natalia Demasova
During the exhibition I was able to meet the Russian light painting couple, Hory Ma, who were absolutely delightful in person as much as their portraits were a delight to see visually. Also, Dan Whitaker (aka quornflake) from the United Kingdom was there. Dan and I got the opportunity to do an evening of collaborative light painting on Saturday night with Sergey Churkin, who was doing the driving and getting lost on our way to the University of Moscow and the new skyscraper district under lots of construction.
Unfortunately, all things come to an end. The exhibition concluded on Sunday evening with dozens of disappointed people still waiting in line to have their light painting portraits taken. Despite running out of time for the fans, LPWA’s exhibition was an absolute success. Sergey and the LPWA Advisory Board will be looking for new venues in which light painting and LPWA member artists’ works can be promoted, as well as collaborative projects and sources of revenue. Given the success of this first event, there is no doubt in my mind that LPWA and its artists will have much to contribute to the art form in the future and big things will happen!
I would be remiss if I didn’t make some shameless plugs. First, if there are interested experienced light painters that wish to join LPWA, please head to the website and register. Registration is free right now! Also, if anyone has more specific questions about LPWA or is interested in pitching the concept of an international exhibition at a major venue in your area, please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep the torches burning bright!