Denver-based Alt Ethos illuminates Gore Creek Promenade through Jan. 20
If you’ve walked on the Gore Creek Promenade at night since Vail Winterfest on Dec. 22, you may have ooh-ed and ahh-ed at the light displays decorating the trees and pedestrian bridge, as well as the ice sculpture by the creek.
Both pieces of public art were a new addition to Winterfest this year. Vail’s Art in Public Places has been incorporating murals and art displays in town throughout the summer, and continued this winter with Winterfest.
Molly Eppard, the Art in Public Places coordinator, hired Erin O’Brien from Denver-based Alt Ethos to create an artistic lighting design by Gore Creek in town, as well as sculptor Paul Wertin to create the ice sculpture, which Wertin also infused with LED lights. Unfortunately, the ice sculpture was vandalized on Jan. 2, though the suspect has turned herself into Vail Police. The lights are intact, and O’Brien recently upped the contrast of the lights to make the display even more vibrant.
O’Brien met Eppard at Crush Walls in Denver. Crush Walls is based in the River North – RiNo – arts district that invites local, national, and international artists to create murals and immersive art experiences in the neighborhood. At the 10th anniversary Crush Walls this summer, Alt Ethos was doing some projection mapping on a new mural. Eppard ran up to them and said she loved what they were doing. She and O’Brien became acquainted and Eppard eventually proposed the Gore Creek Promenade art installation to O’Brien.
O’Brien worked in IT and web development while doing lighting design as a side hustle for about 10 years. Her work has illuminated the stage at festivals including Burning Man. In 2018, she saw that Alt Ethos had an open position and applied.
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“Now it’s a most-of-the-time hustle,” she said.
Alt Ethos is a design agency that uses technology to create immersive activations for public art spaces, the entertainment industry and more. It uses virtual reality, among other technologies, to increase engagement and build something beautiful in the spaces in which it works. As a sister organization to Denver Arts + Technology Advancement (DATA), Alt Ethos also donates a portion of its revenue, time and equipment to DATA’s mission: Empowerment Through Creative Technology.
She started designing the Art in Public Places installation with Eppard.
One of the things she worked on while designing the installation was making sure that the lighting wasn’t damaging to the trees. She talked to the public works department and they pointed out trees which had been choked due to constrictive light stringing.
“We tried to use as much ethical technology as possible,” she said.
When she was in Vail installing the lights, she brought her longtime friend – both are from Massachusetts and TKTKTKT – as an extra set of hands and as moral support. She was in town on Thursday, Dec. 19 and Friday, Dec. 20 during a cold spell in Vail where temperatures were less than 10 degrees.
“It’s basically a lot of daisy-chaining the lights together,” O’Brien said. “it’s really nice to be doing environmental lighting, immersive lighting where it’s more than just back of the stage, or just one plane of existence. Here, you can walk through the trees and it’s the whole promenade. It’s nice to be able to have that large of an area to play with.”
The installation will be up in Vail until Jan. 20. The lights are on from dusk until 10 p.m. daily.