August 30, 2022

Lumonics Among the Longest-Running Light Art Studios in the U.S.

Lumonics Light & Sound Gallery

The Lumonics Light & Sound Gallery is based in Denver, Colorado. The facility includes the gallery, art studio, Lumonics School of Light Art, and a performance space which presents Lumonics Immersed. 

We recently were visited by Dr. Pierre-Jacques Pemuit who teaches the history of light art at the University of Paris (Sorbonne). He is also a postdoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. He discovered the light art of the Tanners in his research and because of a media project at the University of Colorado - Boulder, he had the opportunity to come to the U.S. from Paris for the first time since the pandemic began. He told us that he has visited light art studios and light art museum exhibits all over the world, and said he never saw such a cohesive exhibit before, knowing that he is only seeing a fraction of the total body of art. He mentioned a now deceased light artist from Germany who had a large body of work but the collection is in poor condition, and was astounded how the artworks at Lumonics over 50 years old look like they were just completed! We will be sending him archival material so he can include the art of the Tanners in his classes and seminars.

Lumonics is among the first and longest-running light art studios in the U.S., originating in Miami, FL at the same time as the Light and Space Movement got underway in Southern California. Prominent members of that movement are James Turrell, Larry Bell, and Robert Irwin.

Artists Mel and Dorothy Tanner, both now deceased, began their work in acrylic glass (plexiglass) and light in 1967. Their focus was to present their light sculptures as part of a total art installation. It utilized live projection consisting of hand-painted slides and live painting projected on a large wall from a mezzanine. A color organ synchronized the light sculptures to the music. It was an immersive experience before immersive came into the vernacular. The Miami Herald called it “one of the most unusual yet beautiful experiences in the world of art”. The intent has always been to stimulate creativity, and relax and energize people through this multi-sensory expression.

Three studio members, Marc Billard, Barbara Billard, and Barry Raphael, who have been a part of the project since the early years, are fulfilling the wishes of Dorothy Tanner who passed in 2020 at the age of 97, who wanted the Lumonics artform to continue to affect people. We are fulfilling her wishes through public exhibitions, the sale of some original artworks and limited editions, and the presentation of Lumonics Immersed with updated technology, a continuation of the performance aspect of the project.

Lumonics is open by appointment during the week and presents Lumonics Immersed on the weekends. For more information visit the website at www.lumonics.net.

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