This weekend saw the public opening of this year’s edition of the Waller Creek Show, an annual 10-day festival of luminescent art installations along a stretch of Waller Creek in downtown Austin. The event has become a major draw for visitors from across the Austin area and helped to raise the visibility of the planned Waller Creek Park District, an ambitious vision to revitalize both the creek and a chain of parks connected by the creek as a new spine for downtown redevelopment. We are thrilled to be one of six teams selected from 46 other submissions, and even more thrilled to see our installation finally come to life this weekend. For the first time in the four year history of the event, the installations were selected by a jury representing a range of Waller Creek stakeholders from Austin’s art, design, and philanthropy communities. We are honored to be among this year’s design teams. Our team included four staff members from our Austin office– Eric Leshinsky, Colter Sonneville, Meghan Skornia, and Wenjie Zhao– who developed the original proposal and then refined it with the aid of fabrication consultant Austin Architectural Graphics and lighting consultant Ilios Lighting Design. The installation, entitled No Lifeguard on Duty, was developed as a response to a particular site along the creek below the 8th Street bridge, but its form was ultimately inspired by significant cultural elements found elsewhere in Austin as well as a desire to create an immersive and highly interactive project.
If you live in Austin or will be visiting soon, you can check out the Creek Show any night this week before the installations come down November 19. Visit www.creekshow.com for more information.
Here’s the official narrative we developed to explain our installation:
No Lifeguard on Duty is sited at a unique location on Waller Creek where an aging weir allows the creek’s water to pool and where steps along the creek’s edge invite visitors to dip their feet in the cool water. The installation is a response to the site and the broader culture of Austin’s swimming hole culture and long history with neon-based art. Waller Creek is not Barton Springs, nor any of the other treasured naturally-fed swimming holes in the region. And it never will be. Waller Creek is an urban waterway that has its own complex identity, a composite place influenced by both downtown and the larger watershed. No Lifeguard on Duty proposes a pool club for a waterway that will never have one. Here you can relax by the pool serenaded by the lights and sounds of the Red River cultural district. You can mingle with other pool-goers, or you can party till the sun comes up. But just remember, there’s no lifeguard on duty.
Leonid Furmansky, David Brendan Hall