Swiss artist to light up the Old Capitol for unique showcase

Swiss light artist Gerry Hofstetter will use the Old Capitol as a canvas for his projected-light performance this evening.


Katina Zentz

Crew members take photos of the art projected onto the Old Capitol on Wednesday, October 3, 2018. International light artist Gerry Hofstetter chose the building as a backdrop to feature artwork included in his “Light Art Grand Tour USA.”

Elianna Novitch, News Reporter

Swiss light artist Gerry Hofstetter will use the Old Capitol as his canvas for the evening as he transforms the building with his projected-light performance today.

As part of his Light Art Grand Tour around the United States, Hofstetter, a world-renowned artist known for his light shows, has selected the Old Capitol to be the landmark highlighted for the state.

This evening, Hofstetter will participate in a Creative Matters Lecture in the Old Capitol from 5-6 p.m., and the free public light art performance will take place 8-9 p.m. on the Pentacrest.

Hofstetter’s Light Art Grand Tour USA is traveling to each state and highlighting one monument or landmark per state. The tour seeks to explore U.S. history and the common roots between the U.S. and Switzerland. Some of the monuments Hofstetter has worked on during this tour include George Washington’s Mount Vernon, the USS Yorktown — a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier — and the Wright Brothers National Memorial.

“His tour is looking at freedom, independence, and democracy,” Pentacrest Museums Director Liz Crooks said. “He’s choosing one monument in each state, and so the fact that he chose the Old Capitol to represent the founding of our state, the history of our state, and its ongoing role in the university and community, is really very special.”

Hofstetter’s tour kicked off last year during which he highlighted monuments in the original 13 states and this year is visiting the remaining states, tracing the path of westward expansion.

Hofstetter will feature Iowa City’s creativity and its designation as a UNESCO City of Literature, the University of Iowa as one of the nation’s top public universities, and the UI’s nationally known medical school and teaching hospital in Thursday’s show.

“I would like to show the public their history and the roots of the history and combine that with pictures on [the Old Capitol] so that whenever they walk by it, in the morning, the evening, or during the day and when I’m gone, they will remember, ‘These are our roots,’ ” Hofstetter said.

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He and his team of 10 have been in Iowa City for three days in preparation for the event. They set up their equipment and have been testing the show at different times throughout the day to take advantage of different lighting. They are putting on the show at no cost for the Pentacrest Museums or the UI.

Leslie Revaux, the manager of campus communications for the Office of the Vice President for Research & Economic Development, said the university was honored to have Hofstetter participate in a Creative Matters Lecture during his time in Iowa City.

“He’s done projects on icebergs, the Roman Colosseum, and the Pyramids of Giza, and so we feel like we’re in really lucky company to get him at the university,” Revaux said. “Students should consider coming to the talk because it’s an opportunity to get some facetime with a really cool artist. It’s kind of rare to be in a smaller setting with folks who work at his level.”

Crooks said she is excited to have the Old Capitol be used as a canvas for his artwork and for the community and the campus to come together and enjoy the unique show.

“It’s going to be unlike anything we’re able to do on a local scale … this caliber of artist doesn’t come through very often,” Crooks said. “You’ll see in his other works, it’s really transformational, and the way that he incorporates the history of the location, the uniqueness of the location, and that building means a lot to us at the museum and to campus. To see [the Old Capitol] recognized is very gratifying.”