Art Beacon: Jackson’s public art instillation is a crowdsourced work of wonder

By on January 4, 2018

People started taking photos before they were even done. During construction, when ice luminaries sat on the ground and the wall wasn’t even built, people asked if they could sneak in for a photo.

Sometimes Bland Hoke worries about people engaging with the public art he creates. He never worried about the Beacon, a crescent shape wall created with ice luminaries and lit with LED lights. People were drawn to it, even before Hoke finished it. He watched once it was done, how people started walking slowly to it, phones raised as they took pictures.

The Beacon was doing exactly what is designed to do.

The Teton Village Association wanted a temporary art installation that would enliven the base area at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, said Carrie Geraci, executive director of Jackson Hole Public Art. They wanted something that would draw attention to the ice rink, that would interest people wandering the area after a day of skiing and inspire them to take photographs.

Hoke came up with the idea to use water balloons. He filled them, and a couple of exercise balls, with water and let them partially freeze. Water freezes from the outside in, so he drilled a hole through the outer ice layer to drain the liquid in the center. He was left with hollow ice globes he could illuminate with LED lighting that changes colors slowly. The luminaries are “glued” together with slush and sit on a snow foundation.

It took five people working about 10 days to create the finished sculpture. One night the weather turned and warmed to about 40 degrees. The ice melted and then froze misshapen and they had to chip out the round shapes of the luminaries to make it look better.

Hoke doesn’t know exactly how many he created, but guesses somewhere between 250 and 400 luminaries. The curve of the wall makes the light circle. The result is an exotic, glowing sculpture that Hoke hopes people find “delightfully unexpected.”

Already, around 5 p.m., apres ski time, people wander around the sculpture and take pictures.

“This wacky, eye-catching art installation is doing its job,” Hoke said. “It’s amazing how many people are out milling about and curious and excited to discover stuff around the resort.”

They named it the Beacon because it beckons people toward it. It also is a double entendre, alluding to avalanche beacons, as well as the beacon of light from a lighthouse that is meant to draw attention to a place, Hoke said.

“Those are all tools for finding, locating or drawing attention to something,” he said. “We are thrilled the Beacon fulfills its name.”

The installation will take some maintenance through the winter, mainly from people who test the ice strength with their ski boots. Hoke said he might polish it a couple times with a blow torch for special events and might even build more layers of ice if gets really cold. PJH

The Beacon, a public art installation by Bland Hoke and Jackson Hole Public Art, can be found by the ice rink in Teton Village.

About Kelsey Dayton

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