The marquee art exhibition at Discovery Green this fall is moonGARDEN, designed to dazzle with oversized, glowing orbs that will transform the park into a magical dreamscape. This work creates such a fascinating and dynamic world of light and color that many may be surprised that at its core, it’s based on the oldest and most universal form of storytelling on the planet: shadow play. Designed by Montreal art collective Lucion, moonGARDEN will be on display in the park from Sept. 29 through Oct. 7, where the artists hope that it inspires others to dream and find their own creativity.
“The idea is to take an urban park and make it like a poetic moment,” says Bernard Duguay, founder and president of Lucion. “There’s a moment of flow that you experience. I think beauty makes the brain think differently. Houston is the topic of the story, but it will be blending into the environment and how beautiful the park is, creating a very beautiful floating walk.”
moonGARDEN has been a global art phenomenon since 2012, when Lucion won a contest to design an art installation in Montreal. “It caught the imagination of people because there were these crazy huge bubbles in the middle of the city, and you felt like a mini-Alice in Wonderland walking through it,” says Duguay. In the intervening years, custom versions have been exhibited around the world from Moscow to Mexico City, with each display defined by a unique location and story told in light.
The exhibition at Discovery Green is the largest ever in the United States and the first in Texas: 22 “bubbles” ranging in size from 6 to 30 feet in diameter placed throughout Discovery Green and neighboring Avenida Houston, with each cluster creating their own narrative. “We are so excited about activating several blocks of Avenida Houston with multiple opportunities to interact with the moonGARDEN spheres and to discover something new with each ‘family’ grouping,” says Christine West, cultural programs manager for co-presenter HoustonFirst. “Placing the moonGARDEN spheres in several locations in the park and on the Plaza seamlessly builds Avenida Houston as an epicenter for art, dining, entertainment and fun.”
And for the first time ever, the artists have specially designed one of the 30-foot spheres with a window into its inner workings so that visitors can look inside and see how fairly simple mechanisms bring such dynamic and elaborate works of art to life. “We gave special tours to people, and they were just fascinated at how we made these big shadows from little cutouts, so we decided to open it up and show everybody how it’s made. It’s very low-tech—you put a paper object in front of a light on a revolving platform. We have a few platforms in there so they mix together in the light and shadow. The closer the objects are to the lights, the foggier they become,” says Duguay.
The exhibition is also interactive in a more active sense; three globes include what Duguay terms an “exposure” surface, with a camera inside the globe that captures anything on or near the surface of the sphere, which means audiences can write their names in light on the globe, or turn the camera towards themselves and take a photo, which will appear on the orb and slowly fade. “It’s very playful and fun,” he says.
While the peek inside hopefully inspires viewers to create their own art from everyday objects, the interactive elements encourage them to put their stamp on the exhibition. Stories about Houston will strike a chord with locals and visitors alike, and moonGARDEN is more than any one of these elements; it is a stunning visual work that cannot help but entrance and delight.
“It is instantly reminiscent of a fairy tale, something you would conjure in your imagination but never think could be real,” says Judy Nyquist, chair of Discovery Green‘s public art committee. “It’s a little mysterious, with a dreamlike sense of space. The globes are arresting to see just purely for their size, and as the visuals they play off of the childhood game of shadow puppets, they are instantly accessible to anybody of any age or any culture. People are going to be charmed and amazed.”
The exhibition is free and visible during all park hours; activated nightly 6 p.m.–midnight. Check the event page for more information, and see special events and hours below:
Sept. 29 Opening night activities include: Cirque la Vie and other performances throughout the park, a screening of Moonstruck (1988, PG, 102 min.) and more! 7:30–10 p.m.
Sept. 30 Bring your date for “Moon Dance,” a romantic evening at moonGARDEN. After a stroll among the magical moonscape, complete the evening with ballroom dancing lessons, poetry buskers and surprises. 7:30–10 p.m.
Oct. 5Discovery Green hosts a pajama party for the city of Houston at “Goodnight, Moon,” a family-friendly event at moonGARDEN. Milk and cookies will be served as celebrity readers will share the beloved children’s book in the languages of Houston. The Astrological Society will be on hand with telescopes for star-gazing. 7–9 p.m.
LakeHouse outside “café” hours:
- Sept. 29–30: Noon–10 p.m.
- Oct. 1–3: 10 a.m.–9 p.m.
- Oct. 4–7: Noon–10 p.m.