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Brilliant 'Wabash Lights' Public-Art Light Project Looks To Expand

By Stephen Gossett in Arts & Entertainment on Nov 22, 2016 9:18PM

Courtesy of the artists.

Here at Chicagoist we’re unrepentant boosters of both public art and bright, pretty, shiny things, so we fell hard for Wabash Lights when it first hit our radar, way back in 2014. Now, the team behind the project is raising funds to expand their initial success even further.

The project, which debuted in beta this February, illuminated a dark stretch of Wabash Avenue with thousands of multicolored LED light tubes affixed underneath downtown CTA rail tracks.

In true no-small-plans fashion, the creators now seek to expand Wabash Lights “the biggest piece of public art in Chicago's history,” according to a recent Kickstarter campaign posted by designer/artists Jack C. Newell and Seth Unger, the pair that has envisioned and shepherded Lights all along. The latest campaign seeks $50,000 in order to expand the public-art spectacle two full blocks and ultimately unveil the interactive, programmable aspect that Newell and Unger see incorporated. Using app or text functions, the general public can manipulate how exactly the light shimmers.

So something along the lines of the proposed public-art light project on The 606, but with the customization aspect handed over to you rather than the vagaries of weather.

According to the latest Kickstarter page, the $50,000 benchmark will likely not cover the full costs required for such an expansion; but the team nonetheless hopes “to create a groundswell of grassroots support to convince corporate, private, and foundational support to join.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) are both on board, along with the CTA and Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), according to Newell and Unger.

Count us among the enlightened.

[H/T Curbed]