News and Features

Aurora: New Sights and Sounds in the Arts District

The Dallas Arts District will transform into an outdoor art gallery Friday Night. Local artists have created videos and light installations that will be projected onto buildings, trees and even the streets during a night modeled after similar events in Paris and Toronto.

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The event, called Aurora, invites more than 100 local artists to pick out a spot in the Arts District – like the AT&T Performing Arts Center, the Meyerson, or the Crow Collection – and turn it into their own projection screen.

Everything from light shows set to music to video projections to illuminated dancers is in the works.

Joshua King is one of the organizers.

KING: “Those are all kind of dream spots for any artist, and now they’re kinda saying, ‘We’d like to support you, be there with you and let you show your artwork at our locations’.”

As many as 15,000 people are expected. Arts District Executive Director Veletta Lill says that Aurora will help visitors to see the neighborhood as more than just a collection of fancy buildings.

LILL: “Frequently we come to the Arts District and we go into the buildings. This is all about the exterior of the buildings and seeing those exteriors in different ways.”

The district is home to more than just buildings that house the arts.  Aurora co-organizer Shane Pennington chose the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe and its bell tower for his project.

PENNINGTON: “When I’ve been downtown to hear the bells, they’re just magical. And when I had the opportunity to pick a spot in the district, of course, I thought, well, OK, I want the bell tower.”

Pennington is coy about his piece, a video projection he calls “ethereal.” To incorporate the tower’s 49 bells, Pennington drafted Carol Anne Taylor, who plays the bells at the church. She helped him write the four-minute soundtrack to his projection.

TAYLOR: “I was very excited, very scared as well. It’s not just about the rudiments of writing a piece of music, it’s also about connecting with visual art and emotions and making that meaningful to someone who’s just walking along the street.”

Taylor has been playing the carillon  – the instrument that operates the church’s bells – for about five years. She has a master’s degree in organ performance, but had never really written music.

TAYLOR: “We spent one evening in fact – he was playing just examples of things that he likes, and it was so funny, because he just looked at me, and he said, “Are you getting any of this?” And I just said real jokingly, “Sure, I’m getting it! It’s fine, it’s great!” Then, when we met up in the tower with what I had come up with, he just couldn’t believe it. He was amazed.”

PENNINGTON: “It just came together. And it kinda sent chills down my spine.”

Taylor and Pennington will perform “Everything and Emptiness” at 9 p.m. Friday. The same night you can also help Art&Seek celebrate the launch of its smartphone app at the Nasher Sculpture Center.

Carol Anne Taylor and Shane Pennington in the cathedral's bell tower. Photo: Scogin Mayo

  • Angus Wynne

    Wonderful article–can’t wait to see and hear.