Friday, August 1, 2014


A friend of mine, a theater Lighting Man (as opposed to a Sound Man or a Prop Man) slept on my living room couch last week after lighting a local performance – it was easier than driving back to New York City at 1 a.m. and looking for a parking space. In the morning, I dragged him up to the attic to look at the 50 or so wooden boxes I have stored there. These are not the cardboard ones I talked about in Post #18, but plain, black, wood shadow boxes, 18”x14”x3”. I bought them from a supplier in China and filled the interiors with black and white images of buildings I had photographed in my walks around Downtown Stamford and the South End. Once I established a make-believe streetscape, (not a real one) I could put my cast of true-to-life street characters inside, creating a De Chirico-like dreamscape. I was able to create depth in the shallow space by using false photo perspective; no color, all shades of gray. Unlike my cheery, original set of supermarket boxes populated by a hand-drawn, satirical cast of characters, these were somber and expressive. I don’t remember what was going on in my life at the time, but it couldn’t have been good.

I’ve exhibited the boxes several times in the past – at the old Loft Artist’s building on Canal Street and at the University of Connecticut gallery in Stamford, lighting them with whatever was at hand - overhead spots or floor lamps. They looked good, but were never quite “right.” Recently, I decided that what they really needed was true stage lighting. With all the tiny LED lights now available, I was sure there was some way to do that, create real “theater” out of my miniature streetscapes. My overnight visitor (the  “lighting man”) and I took a bunch of small, intense, LED flashlights I recently acquired and shone them on the boxes from all directions; like stage lighting, we created dramatic shadows from above, below and behind Some of the effects were so vivid that we both gasped when the makeshift LED’s went on.

A few weeks ago, I saw something interesting that I’d like to try with the boxes. It was at the Museum of Art and Design at Columbus Circle - a relatively new, small museum in New York City that I highly recommend.  The designer had built a false wall from floor to ceiling and placed boxes inside, flush with the wall, but providing space for unseen lighting. I thought that might be something interesting to try, or, I could mount the boxes inside larger boxes, again allowing room for dramatic stage lighting. All I need now is a sugar daddy (or momma) to pay for it and a darkened, theater-like room in which to exhibit. Maybe I can sell tickets.

I’ll try to take some decent photos so you can get the idea. That too needs a “professional.”

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