Georgetown GLOW lights up city streets with hopeful art

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Georgetown GLOW (Part 1)

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas — in the springtime!

Georgetown GLOW is lighting up the streets to lift our spirits.

WTOP caught up with the folks at the Georgetown Business Improvement District.

“Georgetown GLOW started in 2014,” Vice President and Marketing Director Nancy Miyahira said. “It’s traditionally held as a holiday event in December into early January, but because of last year with the pandemic and really wanting to be safe, we decided to pivot and push it forward to the spring and summer of this year.”

In an attempt to reduce crowds, the series is spread out from April 9 to June 27.

“It’s a free, outdoor light art experience,” Miyahira said. “It’s traditionally been about 10 to 11 light art installations by artists locally, nationally and internationally, but this year we are spreading it out into a two-part series over six months. So, we’ll have a Spring GLOW with five art installations, and then we’ll have a Summer GLOW with three installations in our alleys.”

They hope it will inspire the community after a tough year.

“GLOW is the ray of light we all need,” Miyahira said. “It’s a new season of light for everyone, there’s a lot of optimism, people want to come back to the great outdoors. Georgetown is a beautiful, outdoor, walkable environment. We’ve got about 30 streeteries that our restaurants are doing outside and we’re going to be extending our sidewalks, making them wider on M [Street] and Wisconsin [Avenue].”

The exhibits can be experienced both in person and virtually during any time of day.

“Our work is beautiful during the day and night,” Events Director Debbie Young said. “In our artwork, we were definitely keeping in mind pieces that you could still interact with but at a social distance. We are requiring folks wear their masks. … We’re going to have virtual opportunities. We have videos the artists are creating, so you can see the tour from the comfort of your own home if you’re not ready to get back out there yet.”

Check out renderings of the five Spring GLOW exhibits below:

“She’s a local artist by way of Argentina, but she’s living in D.C.,” Young said. “She is a social activist, a lot of her work promotes the LGBTQ+ community. Her work is beautiful, colorful. It has an interactive element. As you walk underneath her installation, there will be music from an a cappella group and the lights will mimic the sound.”

“They’re also from D.C. [and] actually met in Mount Pleasant,” Young said. “Their installation is 200 lanterns. They look like a flickering mess, but as you walk along the path of Grace Church, as you get to one magical viewing point, it shows different scenes and animations. They’ll have about a 30-minute program.”

“He’s actually from Virginia, but he now lives in New York,” Young said. “He used to work at an architect firm here in Georgetown, so that’s how he learned about GLOW. He would see it every year, walk through it and admire all the artwork. … His work is very architectural, very intricate and it’s going to be so beautiful right next to the Potomac River.”

“She is also a local artist and her work is so interesting,” Young said. “It’s something different than anything we’ve ever had as part of GLOW. She is inspired by nature, so hers is a replica of a meteorite that hit the earth about 50,000 years ago. … She’s using reflective beads on the outside of it, so the way the sun will hit it and reflect against it will be very interesting during the day, then at night she has these special spotlights that will be shining on it.”

“They’re actually two sisters, one is based in New Orleans, the other one is in Wisconsin,” Young said. “Both of them were part of Cloud Swing that we had last year as part of GLOW. Their aesthetic is very whimsical, very hopeful and positive. … It will include about 50,000 lanterns that will be installed on a 35,000-foot-plus tree in front of Georgetown Lutheran. It’s very apropos for the time right now with all that’s going on in the world, it’s a chance for visitors to come, stand underneath a lantern and make a wish for the future.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews Georgetown GLOW (Part 2)
Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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