A weekend of light cuts through the darkness of winter in the area around OMSI north of the Ross Island Bridge

DAVID F. ASHTON - With downtown Portland for a backdrop, people stopped along the Willamette Rivers East Bank Esplanade to see works like this one - Mihlys Gate. Early in February, thousands of people strolled by the Willamette River to take in a new tradition – the three-evening Portland Winter Light Festival. This year the dates were February 6 through 8, and the location again was on the East Bank Esplinade, near the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI).

After sunset each of the three evenings, a hundred artists used "video projection mapping", "fire sculpture", and live performances to give visitors to an expression of the announced theme, "Into the Dreamscape".

"Although this is our fifth year, there's been a dedicated group of volunteers working to bring it about long before that," commented Willamette Light Brigade Board Member Marianne Zarkin, Co-chair of the festival's Development Committee.

"It's exciting to have such a lively event outdoors in Portland in the wintertime, when most people are stuck at home, and there is little to do," Zarkin told THE BEE.

DAVID F. ASHTON - Southeast Portland artist Kay Sims showed off her flaming artwork called Crystal Evolution - it took herself and her partner a full year to make it. Artist Kay Sims, who has a studio in Southeast Portland, displayed "flaming art" which she entitled "Crystal Evolution". "My partner and I made it in stages over about a year.

"We're glad it's been pretty clear this year – but even on evenings when it's raining and cold, to be able to come outside and view beautiful light art, make new friends, and be able to walk around outside at night in the dark, is fun, too – many people tell us it's 'magical' to be here."

Visitors were dazzled by temporary pop-up art installations by local design and architecture firms – including an immersive 2,500-square-foot "light forest". Moreover, those who attended were treated to troupes performing fire dancing, as well as circus acts, throughout the festival.

"It's wonderful to have an event like this. When people gather at our festival, it builds a sense of community among Portlanders," Marianne Zarkin commented. "We're grateful for our artists, volunteers, and especially our sponsors, all of whom work together to put on such fantastic, and totally free, party for the people of Portland!"

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