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LUNA Fete: 21st-century lighting fuses old and new

For a few special evenings, beginning this weekend and continuing through December 5, New Orleanians and anyone else who happens to be in town will be treated to a free extravaganza of creativity that can only be seen here.

For the second year, courtesy of the Arts Council of New Orleans, New Orleans will be the site of LUNA Fete, a series of cutting-edge outdoor light installations. One of only three American cities to present such extraordinary festivals of lights – New York and Boston are the other two – it is the brainchild and final project of the Arts Council’s outgoing president and CEO, Kim Cook.

Inspired, she says, by what she saw at the Fete des Lumieres in Lyons, France, which attracts approximately 4 million visitors annually, Kim’s first go-round in 2014 focused on one site only, the façade of the city’s iconic Gallier Hall.

This time around, the eight-evening event will feature three new venues, among them Ashe’s recently-acquired Power House Theater at 1847 Polymnia St.

“It will happen every night,” Kim says. “There will be all that optical illusion of the building changing shape and will also include the art of Terrence Osborne. I wanted to illustrate and illuminate what New Orleans is capable of. So we will also have installations from local artists along Julia Street and O. C. Haley Boulevard as well.”

Lafayette Square is the other location. “That will be an interactive piece, the Pool, that you can dance and jump and play around on,” Kim explains about the project by Denver artist Jen Lewin.

While Kim says LUNA Fete has the potential to have a real impact on tourism, she insists its main focus is on the local community.

“We have a lot of original residents with a culture of gathering in the streets; of large scale spectacles and friendly celebrations,” she says. “And we have a lot of new residents in New Orleans where the technology piece might be attractive to them. So this is a nice way to bring together an intersection of old and new in literal and metaphorical ways.”

LUNA Fete

  • What: LUNA Fete 2015
  • When: Nov. 29-Dec. 5; 6-9 p.m.
  • Where: Lafayette Square and Ashe Power House Theater, 1847 Polymnia St.
  • Also: Friday, Dec. 4 and Saturday, Dec. 5; 6-9 p.m. 300-600 blocks of Julia St.

Renee Peck is editor of NolaVie. Email her at [email protected]