‘Luminous Forest’ taking root in art corridor | Art & Appetite

By James Spangler | Jun 06, 2016
Photo by: James Spangler Artist/architect Iole Alessandrini prepares her canvas on 4th Avenue.

If you were out wandering around in downtown Edmonds last week, you might have observed artist/architect Iole Alessandrini deep in thought, standing in the middle of 4th Avenue shaking a can of spray paint.

Most of us would just shrug and say (in a slightly exasperated tone), “Artists!” We’re used to it.

Thankfully, Edmonds is crawling with them. The self-appointed among us might feel the need to go up to her and point out that graffiti is not allowed in Edmonds. This actually happened.

But Alessandrini was not out tagging. She was working.

Something very cool is about to take place along the “art corridor” between the Edmonds Performing Arts Center and Main Street on Fourth Avenue. The installation of “Luminous Forest” is just around the corner.

Alessandrini has recently taken delivery of 240 solar-powered glass blocks (think giant light bulbs, which will be sunk into the street, gradually lighting as the sun sets, then dimming as the sun rises again.

Alessandrini always tries to provide some special insight for the viewer. Placed along the corridor at an angle, the placement of these lights will provide reference points to the imperial grid.

Virtually everything in America built post 20th century runs on the familiar north-south-east-west imperial grid. But the old roads in port towns like Edmonds were shaped by water.

This connects old with new. The forest reference pays tribute to the enormous cedars that once dominated our landscape.

As anyone who has ever purchased the wrong variety of tomatoes for the garden, or planted a rosebush in the wrong spot knows, the Pacific Northwest presents a specific set of challenges.

In the case of “Luminous Forest,” finding equipment capable of storing enough solar energy for the darkest days of winter proved particularly challenging.

The first shipment of blocks had to be returned. A second manufacturer had to be located.

Despite these setbacks, Alesandrini has been pleasantly surprised by the competence, cooperation and great communication she’s received from the Edmonds Art Commission.

Of Frances Chapin she remarked, “I could not have asked for a better person to work with.”

The city of Edmonds and the Edmonds Art Festival Foundation funded this project equally.

Everything has been carefully tested, including the simulation of winter light levels. It’s time to break ground. Alessandrini’s face actually lights up as she describes an amazing new epoxy she discovered for setting the blocks – it dries in 20 minutes. Artists.

Beginning on the north end, the light blocks will be set in place starting Monday, June 6. Crews anticipate the process to take a few days, perhaps a little longer.

In an effort to limit disruption as much as possible, the road will remain open, but no parking signs will be placed in the immediate areas under construction. In this case, our collective suffering for art should be pretty minimal.

If you’ve seen Alessandrini’s work, you’ll know that it’ll be worth it!

Check out some of Iole Alessandrini’s other amazing projects at www.iole.org.






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