Blog & News - Page 2 of 4 - Austine - Polarized Light Art

Posted on: February 7th, 2015 by Erika Wood

Kyle Canyon Polage Window Art Installed!

Outside the brand new Spring Mountain Visitor's Center.

Outside the brand new Spring Mountain Visitor’s Center.

In August 2012 I responded to a Request for Qualification for an art installation in a U.S. Forest Service visitor center to be built in Kyle Canyon on Mt. Charleston.   They were looking for six qualified artists to make proposals.  A few weeks later I was informed that I was one of the 6 chosen to create a formal proposal.  I proposed Polage® art for a small section of the front windows as well as some other locations.  In September, I was asked if I could modify my proposal to include the whole line of windows along the south face instead of the other two locations.

Finished panels all ready for installation.

Finished panels all ready for installation.

My proposal was to attach to each of the 25 windows across the front of the building, panels in the shapes of the major peaks of the Spring Mountain Range.  To the naked eye it looks like etched glass.  But if you happen to be wearing polarized sunglasses, or catch a glimpse through polarized panels I designed for the space, the window pieces will reveal colorful images of hundreds of species native to this region.  My hope is that people will look closely and perhaps learn to recognize which species they are seeing.  There is only one small reference to our human presence in this stunning natural landscape.  See if you can spot it. 

"Take only memories, leave only footprints", Chief Seattle.  (feet or maybe boots!)

“Take only memories, leave only footprints”, Chief Seattle. (feet or maybe boots!)

Here’s a hint: “Take only memories, leave only foot [or boot] prints.” —Chief Seattle.

It was exciting to find out in December 2012 that I had been chosen as one of two artists to create work for the center.

I am so grateful to have been awarded this perfect venue for my art form, as well as to all the people who helped me along the way.  Like a book or movie, I could not have done this alone.

Austine and her ever-present sketchbook, working out some details.  Double glasses are a common sight among the studio artists!

Austine and her ever-present sketchbook, working out some details. Double glasses are a common sight among the studio artists!

Acknowledgements are in order.

Thanks to Karen DiSorbo for encouraging me to apply.  Many thanks to Lisa Stamanis who served on the selection committee. I am also so appreciative of the wonderful wildlife photography by my assistant and photographer Vicki Rose which formed the bulk of my reference photography. My daughter Erika Wood helped with research and viewer design.  A huge helping of thanks goes to my daughter Cara Wood Ginder who made three separate trips from New York to help with the execution, cutting thousands of tiny

Detail from one of the panels.   Oriole in a Yucca Plant.

Detail from one of the panels. Oriole in a Yucca Plant.

pieces of clear cellophane following my drawings.  I certainly could not have done this project without my wonderful assistant and studio manager Jodi Schwab who helped us negotiate the wilds of government paperwork!

And of course, as in almost all of my big projects since 1976, I could not have done this without the help of my husband and collaborator, David Comarow.  Not only is he my wisest critic, and suggester of good ideas, but he is the brains behind and organizer of the installation mechanics. He and our talented studio assistant James (Marty) Shelton, made the installation process go really smoothly. 

The man behind the curtain:   David on the lift (with Marty hard at work behind him).

The man behind the curtain: David on the lift (with Marty hard at work behind him).

The visitor center building itself is a work of art, thanks to architect Craig Galati of LGA and project manager Deborah Bergin.

This visitor center will fulfill an important need for a pleasant, comfortable location in this beautiful National Forest complete with informative displays and picnic areas. There are short paved trails for parents with strollers and comfortable benches with beautiful views.  Forest Service project director John Harris explained that it will be both a starting point for the devoted hiker as well as a destination for the less ambitious who will find plenty to do in the large outdoor area around the building, taking some “pressure” off the mountain trails.

You can see the subtle outline of the Polage Art Mural through the windows of the brand new buidling.  Such a beautiful structure!

You can see the subtle outline of the Polage Art Mural through the windows of the brand new building. Such a beautiful structure!

The visitor center will be open to the public starting  May 30th, 2015.

[More photos of the installation below.  Click on any of the images to see a larger version of the photo.]

Handheld polarizing viewers in their stand.

Handheld polarizing viewers in their stand.

Marty and David on the lift installing the mural.

Marty and David on the lift installing the mural.

Making progress!  These guys worked incredibly hard and did a beautiful job!

Making progress! These guys worked incredibly hard and did a beautiful job!

View through a polarizing filter, Every creature and plant in the mural is native to the surrounding area.

View through a polarizing filter, Every creature and plant in the mural is native to the surrounding area.

At different angles, the mural takes on different colors, and everything changes as you walk along looking at it.

At different angles, the mural takes on different colors, and everything changes as you walk along looking at it.

Some panels of the mural viewed without polarizing filter.  You can see some of the three dimensionality of the installation at this angle.

Some panels of the mural viewed without polarizing filter. You can see some of the three dimensionality of the installation at this angle.

Some of the colorful imagery seen through a polarizing filter.

Some of the colorful imagery seen through a polarizing filter.

The inspiration for the mural in the early morning light.

The inspiration for the mural in the early morning light.

Early morning sun comes streaming into the room.  Colors of the mural change as you walk past it, giving the image depth and movement.

Early morning sun comes streaming into the room. Colors in the mural change as you walk past it, giving the image depth and movement.

Close up on three of the panels.

Close up on three of the panels.

Still working on the installation, late sun, handheld polarizing viewer.

Still working on the installation, late sun, handheld polarizing viewer.

If you're wearing your polarizing sunglasses (like our studio favorite Maui Jim), you'll be able to see all the brilliant color in the mural!

If you’re wearing your polarizing sunglasses (like our studio favorite Maui Jim), you’ll be able to see all the brilliant color in the mural!

Marty did an great job working on the installation along with David and Austine!  We couldn't have done it without him!

Marty did an great job working on the installation along with David and Austine! We couldn’t have done it without him!

The mural's top edge follows the line of the Spring Mountain Range right outside the window!

The mural’s top edge follows the line of the Spring Mountain range looking south right outside the window!

Here's Austine with the completed, installed mural!  We hope you'll all have a chance to come to the Las Vegas area and visit Kyle Canyon to see it!!

Here’s Austine with the completed, installed mural! We hope you’ll all have a chance to come to the Las Vegas area and visit Kyle Canyon to see it!!

Marty finishing up installing the mural.

Marty finishing up installing the mural.

Here you can see a tiny bit of Mountain peak up over the mural, viewed here without a polarizing filter. To the naked eye, it seems like it's simply a silhouette of the mountain range on etched glass...

Here you can see a tiny bit of Mountain peak up over the mural, viewed here without a polarizing filter. To the naked eye, it seems like it’s simply a silhouette of the mountain range on etched glass…

The same panels, as seen through a handheld polarizing filter.

The same panels, as seen through a handheld polarizing filter.

A handheld polarizing filter gives you the big WOW effect and allows you to identify all of the local flora and fauna.

A handheld polarizing filter gives you the big WOW effect and allows you to identify all of the local flora and fauna.

Working on the installation.

Working on the installation.

There are a couple of moutain-range shaped standing viewers throughout the room.

There are a couple of moutain-range shaped standing viewers throughout the room.

Looking at the mural through one of the standing viewers.  Visitors ranging from tall folks like Marty to those of shorter stature or in wheelchairs will be able to see comfortably though the filters.

Looking at the mural through one of the standing viewers. Visitors ranging from tall folks to those of shorter stature or in wheelchairs will be able to see comfortably though the filters.

Posted on: February 2nd, 2015 by Erika Wood

FINISHING the Spring Mountain Visitor Center Windows

After several construction delays, we’re thrilled to announce that we have completed and are finally installing all 25 Polage window panels for the Kyle Canyon Visitors Center!

Austine and Cara at work on one of the larger of the 25 Kyle Canyon Panels which are all now finished and  being installed in the soon-to-be opened facility this week!

Austine and Cara at work on one of the larger of the 25 Kyle Canyon Panels which are all now finished and being installed in the soon-to-be opened facility this week.

My daughter, Cara Wood Ginder, who has been making Polage art with me for over 30 years, made several trips from New York to help with the fabrication. Thank goodness there were no more natural disasters on Mt. Charleston and we are installing the windows on time.

The nearly finished panels as viewed through a polarizing filter.

The nearly finished panels as viewed through a polarizing filter.

It’s amazing to think that I began work on the design almost two years ago!  I created two large large binders with all the reference photos and names of the species included, organized by panel. This installation is going to be instructive and beautiful!  I can’t wait for visitors to accidentally discover there is color in the art when they catch a glimpse through the polarizing filter stands and hand held viewers.

I am feeling connected to all the stained glass artists who created monumental works for cathedrals of Europe.  In a sense, I too am trying to inspire and instruct.

Two of the 25 panels as viewed through the naked eye.

Two of the 25 now finished panels as viewed through the naked eye.

I am trying to inspire the same kind of awe for our fragile natural world as they did for religious beliefs.  It is going to be a terrific facility!

Watch this space for photos from the installation and close-ups of the panels.

Posted on: December 30th, 2013 by

Designing the Spring Mountain Visitor Center Windows Part III

Silver Lupine

Silver Lupine

As I proceed with the design of the Spring Mountain Visitor Center Windows Installation, I immerse myself in the flora and fauna of Kyle Canyon and in our rich Desert environs.  The plant life here is particularly graphically interesting, stark shapes and spears providing great visuals sparks for the mural.  The wildlife is beautiful too, and I have the advantage of bringing shy creatures to the fore for close viewing and playful situating amongst their real home environment.

Creosote

Creosote

There are 7 different ecozones of the Spring Mountains. From Lowest to highest, they are: Saltbush, Creosote Bursage, Blackbrush/Joshua tree, PinyonPine/Juniper, Mixed Conifer, Bristlecone Pine and Alpine.

I”ve started drawing the species listed for each ecozone from life around me and from photographs. For the majority I have been able to use my associate and avid photographer, Vicki”s photos. For others I have searched the internet for closeups and certain identification. Many source images are from the collections posted by Stan Shebs, a local botanist who has been working on uploading pictures of all the plants of the Spring Mountains on to Wikipedia, and Gary Monroe, a Nevada botanist, has also been submitting a lot of plant photos for Nevada, including the Spring Mountains, to the PLANTS database at: http://www.plants.usda.gov/java/ These were kindly provided to me by Forrest service Botanist  Jennifer Brickey from the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest Spring Mountains National Recreation Area.

Boechera

Boechera Bristlecone Pine zone

One of the great things about working with the National Parks Service is getting the chance to use art to inform and educate.  On setting out into the canyon, visitors can get an idea of what to look for, or having returned, see close views of what they may have glimpsed.

I love working with the natural wonders of the desert.  Ever since I moved here from the east in 1976, I”ve loved learning about life in the Mojave.

Here are a few more samples of my resource sketches:

Penstemon Lerophyllus

Penstemon Lerophyllus var. Keckii

Cottontail Rabbit

Cottontail Rabbit wildlife around Las Vegas

Rednapped Sapsucker

Rednapped Sapsucker

Rough Angleica

Rough Angelica

Posted on: December 22nd, 2013 by

Designing the Spring Mountain Visitor Center Windows Part II

Drawing the Kyle Canyon Mountains

Austine working on the scale drawing of the Kyle Canyon Mountain Range, which will define the shape of the piece.

Progress on the Spring Mountain Visitor Center Windows Installation:

I am spending the holiday season really involved in my work on the Spring Mountain Visitor Center Window installation.

I researched the Spring Mountain range and identified about 20 major peaks and traced their most identifiable outlines.  Then I arranged them from south to north (right to left) and drew them out.  After that I traced them into the computer as a vector file.  This is useful for when  we have the Plexiglas backing of the Polage art cut out in those same shapes. The last image in this post shows a computer print out of a small section of the mountain outline.

Drawing the Mountain Range

Close up of sections of the window installation and the shape of the mountain range.

This phase of the project involves online casino looking at the whole piece in a broad perspective.  The next phase will see me getting into the smallest details of the project, the flora and fauna of the area, a diverse and beautiful range of creatures and trees and flowers all loaded into this natural preserve so near our home in Las Vegas.

Once I”ve gathered my drawings of the elements of the region, I”ll once again broaden out my viewpoint on the piece and begin composing the content that will be visible through a polarizing filter.  Watch this space for more reports on my project!

Kyle canyon mountain outlines

Detail of some of the panels” outlines for the Kyle Canyon Visitors Center installation.

Posted on: November 2nd, 2013 by

Designing the Spring Mountain Visitor Center Windows Part I

Measuring for the Polage Art Installation at the Kyle Canyon Gateway Center

Measuring for the Scale Drawing

Visitor”s Center Polage titled:
Mountain Home

I am at work on the window installation for the Kyle Canyon Gateway visitor”s center.  It will be a translucent (back-lit by natural light) Polage art work integrated into the front windows, approximately 24” to 30” high by 73 feet long. Each of the 25 panels will fit inside the window mullions, spaced out from the glass much in the same way stained glass is installed. The translucent art will be constructed on 1/4” thick panels of clear acrylic cut into the shape of the mountain range. The outline will reflect actual profiles of the main peaks in the Spring Mountain range.

One-Eighth scale drawing of the Kyle Canyon Gateway drawing

Above the doorway you can see posted the 1/8th scale drawing.

To the unaided eye, the art will appear to be a simple grey profile of a mountain range, but through polarizing viewers in the environment,  colorful imagery will appear. I am designing a collage of images of flora and fauna native to the region. Visitors will be able to identify such things as Anna’s Hummingbird, Clark’s Nutcracker, Sagebrush Checkerspot Butterfly, Palmer’s Chipmunk, Columbine, Indian Paintbrush, bristlecone pine, online casinos etc.

Kyle Canyon Gateway Visitors

Initial concept for the Kyle Canyon Gateway visitors” center

When viewed through 2 differently oriented polarizing filters, or if a viewer is rotated 90 degrees, contrasting colors and images will appear, giving the impression of seasonal change.  This provides a perfect opportunity for the interpretive staff to talk about the local ecosystem and how its components interrelate. Our experience in other nature centers is that the surprise and the interactive nature captures visitors who would otherwise walk by without noticing the details.

Austine working on the Polage Art scale drawing

Austine working on the Polage Art scale drawing

 

 

Austine at work on the scale drawing

Austine at work on the scale drawing on the Kyle Canyon Gateway Center, making a scale drawing.