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INSIDE LOOK: Creek Show 2021 illuminates Waterloo Park with local art

Waterloo Greenway is hosting its first Creek Show since the art show began. (Laura Figi/Austonia)

Austin's annual Creek Show is set to illuminate Waterloo Park on Friday with five light-based art installations, all made by teams of local artists. The art show will be held in the newly renovated park for the first time since it began in 2012.

The event will host 10 straight days of free programming including live music, family-friendly activities and food vendors. Austinites can attend the show with a reservation made anytime from 6-10 p.m. through Nov. 21.

All of the exhibits are interactive, so visitors are free to gently touch the ones in reach. Here's a first look at the exhibits presented at the show:


(Laura Figi/Austonia)

Created by artist Nicholas DeBruyne with Wevolve Labs, BioNest is an "exploration in sustainable design" with several free-standing sculptures lit up through a translucent bio-plastic "skin" made from seaweed. Looking closely into the lamps you can make out bugs and organic matter peeking through the woven wooden frame. The best part is that the structures are biodegradable.

"At the end of its life, it will return to the earth," DeBruyne said.

Look closely at these sculptures—which all contain matter from different natural areas in the state, like Barton Creek and Marfa—as each is unique. Since they're made of seaweed, organizers said it's entirely possible this exhibit won't make it in the event of a storm so catch BioNest early.


(Laura Figi/Austonia)

Representing the challenges faced by the wildlife in Austin's Waller Creek, the CREEKture is a representation of the native Texas Blind Snake as it rises from one of three rain gardens in the park. The snake is made up of two bodies: a pulsating wire lights up one, representing the "heartbeat" of the critters that crawl in the creek, and a rib-like skeleton that pokes its head just above the ground. Made by GFF Austin, members of the team said the sculpture is a reminder to leave no trace when we visit nature.

"Whenever we go through natural environments, such as Waller Creek, we are actually stepping into native species habitats," GFF team member Jake Chavez said. "We need to treat their habitats like the way we treat our own—that's what this installation is all about."

This sculpture is great to explore from different vantage points!


(Laura Figi/Austonia)

Using the classically strong triangle shape, HIGH LIGHT sits at the tallest point in the park and uses its tripod structure to blast light into the heavens. The towers can be seen from all over the park, framing the Texas Capitol if you view it just so. Created by Chioco Design and Drophouse Design, each of the tripods sits at a different height and can change colors independently. One of the team members, Irela Casanova, said her favorite way to enjoy these is to stand underneath and look at them from above.

"The idea is that they cast light into the sky, infinitely," Casanova said.

Some of the tripods will be privately sold after the show, some will go to be a permanent exhibit at YONDER on 8905 Sandust Way, and some will go on to be installations at California festival Burning Man.


(Laura Figi/Austonia)

Made by a team at local architecture firm dwg., si-glo honors the thousands of native plants that were installed at Waterloo Park with gigantic, glowing, inflatable versions of the Texas Century plant. The largest of the native Texas agaves, Siglo is the Spanish name for century plants and the name was intended as a pun: see the Siglo glow. Walk through the forest of plants—there are two 16-foot plants, one 20-foot plant, one 30-foot plant and one 45-feet tall—and high-five their fronds as you appreciate Texas' natural beauty.

"We're thinking about the 100-year commitment that Waterloo Greenway has made in Waterloo Park with the hundreds of thousands of new plans they've installed here, and what that's really going to mean for Austin," dwg. team member Kim Harding said.

Harding said when the show is over, they hope to be able to repurpose some of the material into windbreakers to commemorate the event.


(Laura Figi/Austonia)

Made by artists Ian Randall and Clayton Cain, SWAY is intended to envelop the viewer and capture the movement of nature, water, energy and people with up to 275 lit-up inflatable tubes suspended over the park's pavilion. Caught up in the wind, the tubes sway freely in the breeze. They're pretty high up but just close enough to lovingly give one a tap.

Once Creek Show is over, SWAY will go on to another exhibit in San Antonio.

"We may disassemble some and make light fixtures from them, so they'll have another life as if we don't get somebody else to (show) them," Kane said.

You'll be able to catch several prominent artists, like Tameca Jones and Riders Against the Storm at the opening showcase, Superfónicos on Saturday, an Artist Talk on Tuesday and Bidi Bidi Banda closing out the showcase on Sunday, Nov. 21.

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