Luna Fete, New Orleans’ ultra-cool high-tech festival of light, shines from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday to Sunday (Dec. 6 – 9) in the CBD. Based on a preview visit to the glowing, glittering site, this will be the best year yet for the annual event that began in 2014.
So put on your walking shoes, bundle up and stroll from Gallier Hall (545 St. Charles Ave.) to the Piazza d’Italia ( 377 Poydras St.) along Lafayette Street, perusing the dazzling animated projections and sculptural spectacles produced by dozens of artists from New Orleans and across the country. Luna Fete is free and there’s nothing else like it in New Orleans.
Luna Fete is based on architectural light festivals popular in Europe. Though Luna Fete is not a holiday festival per se, the marvelous light art harmonizes nicely with the seasonal displays across the city that make the darkest months twinkle and shine. The event includes food and beverage booths, craft vendors and appearances by local performers (look for the glittering Krewe des Fleurs to put in an appearance). Here are three not-to-miss highlights.
Technicolor Gallier Hall
St. Charles streetcar riders have become accustomed to the fact that for a few days each December, the gray-on-gray 1853 government building, with its stately columns and dignified pediment, seems to go nuts as artists splash the exterior with rainbow-hued, lightning-fast, tailor-made, music-accompanied, digital animations.
In past years Luna Fete fans had to settle for just one projection repeated at regular intervals. But in 2018 they’ll get to witness several new architectural animations produced by Crescent City artists including Courtney Egan, David Sullivan, Cristina Molina, Carl Joe Williams, Andrew Wade Smith, and New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts students under the supervision of Kourtney Keller.
We particularly dug the snow ball syrup that seemed to pour down the façade, the dancing neon dude with the green beard and the eerie white butterflies.
Psychedelic Piazza d’Italia
Built in 1979, the Piazza d’Italia is a Roman ruin interpreted in discotheque style. During Luna Fete, New Orleans’ masterpiece of post-modern design has been made all the more fabulous by an art collective known as Vaporwave that has projected a computer graphic rock opera on the pastel arches and plinths.
The theme of the opera, titled “Oedipus Max,” seems to be agitated 1980s pop culture, interpreted as a collage of colliding cartoons, video snippets (we enjoyed the television game show contestants crushing watermelons with their heads) and boiling neo-expressionist patterns. The Piazza d’Italia’s designer Charles Moore would doubtlessly be delighted.
Step into a Van Gogh
On the riverside of the Piazza d’Italia, one of New Orleans’ premier digital artists, David Sullivan, has produced a wonderment. Step into a prismatic beam of light and your silhouette will be projected onto a three-story wall. Wave your arms and the digital brushstrokes of color that surround your inky silhouette will begin to swirl like the sky in Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” The effect is gorgeously transporting.
This years’ Luna Fete is augmented by other lighted sculpture located at the New Orleans Jazz Museum at 400 Esplanade Ave. Congratulations to all the brilliant artists and the Arts Council of New Orleans for bringing us New Orleans most 21st-century festival.
Doug MacCash has the best job in the world, covering art, music and culture in New Orleans. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at Doug MacCash and on Facebook at Douglas James MacCash. As always, please add your point of view to the comment stream.