Glow Up

Austin's Creek Show sets Waterloo Park aglow with 9 magical light installations

Creek Show sets Waterloo Park aglow with 9 magical light installations

Portal Potty mockup for the Austin Creek Show
“Portal Potty” by Kristen Gunn and Laura Salmo may be Creek Show's most playful installation yet. Rendering courtesy of Waterloo Greenway
Dream Pants mockup for the Austin Creek Show
Creek Show returns with a new batch of beautiful and silly installations. (Pictured: "Dream Pants" by Jodi Bade and Maura Schaffer) Rendering courtesy of Waterloo Greenway
Good Vibrations mockup for the Austin Creek Show
Studio 5-1-2's “GOOD~VIBRATIONS” turns a bridge underpass into a party. Rendering courtesy of Waterloo Greenway
Inventories mockup for the Austin Creek Show
“Inventories” by Lawrence Group makes recycling beautiful. Rendering courtesy of Waterloo Greenway
Tunnel Vision mockup for the Austin Creek Show
“Tunnel Vision!” by Hugh Jefferson Randolph Architects centers on a Texas landmark. Rendering courtesy of Waterloo Greenway
Neon City mockup for Austin Creek Show 2022.
"NeonCity" by AIA Austin is an abstract representation of the Austin skyline. Rendering courtesy of Waterloo Greenway
Luna mockup for Austin Creek Show 2022.
"Luna" by the Austin Foundation for Architecture is water-adjacent, and designed to represent possibility. Rendering courtesy of Waterloo Greenway
Enter the Dragonfly mockup for Austin Creek Show 2022.
"Enter the Dragonfly" by Odonata brings water back into the conversation, as a yearly Creek Show theme. Rendering courtesy of Waterloo Greenway
Sirius mockup for Austin Creek Show 2022.
"Sirius," by the National Organization of Minority Architects of Central Texas, entices visitors through a tunnel. Rendering courtesy of Waterloo Greenway
Portal Potty mockup for the Austin Creek Show
Dream Pants mockup for the Austin Creek Show
Good Vibrations mockup for the Austin Creek Show
Inventories mockup for the Austin Creek Show
Tunnel Vision mockup for the Austin Creek Show
Neon City mockup for Austin Creek Show 2022.
Luna mockup for Austin Creek Show 2022.
Enter the Dragonfly mockup for Austin Creek Show 2022.
Sirius mockup for Austin Creek Show 2022.

The Creek Show may sound like a quaint metaphor for fireflies and frog sounds — and it basically is. One of Austin’s most ethereal local arts events, produced by Waterloo Greenway, is returning November 11 through 20 to Waterloo Park with nine new installations making use of light in creative but semi-natural ways.

Themes include, according to a press release, “history to hydrology and beyond.”

Although Waterloo Greenway makes no particular claim to represent the '80s, a pattern becomes clear: Visitors can expect a bit of nostalgia via creative use of denim, Day-Glo colors, and lots of geometric patterns. This year's installations are also campier than in the past — a few 2022 installations are absurd and lowbrow with a lighthearted, freeing tone.

An installation by Studio 5-1-2 called “GOOD~VIBRATIONS” turns the undersides of two bridges into disco caverns, with an imaginative new shape to replace those glittery mirrored spheres that have survived so many decades on dance floors. Another installation called “Portal Potty,” by Kristen Gunn and Laura Salmo, elevates those park commodes into very desirable places to be.

“Inventories” by Lawrence Group fulfills one of the perennial Creek Show themes of recycling in the most direct way of all nine exhibits, organizing bottles like floating luminarias on the water. And “Tunnel Vision!” by Hugh Jefferson Randolph Architects brings the Texas pride with a giant telescope toward the State Capitol with an interactive light show.

Creek Show projects are site-specific and exciting to explore along the non-linear, multilevel paths of Waller Creek. Designers applied through the Austin Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), and include a wider range of talents — architects, landscape architects, and artists.

“Austinites will be dazzled by this year’s awe-inspiring Creek Show installations,” said AIA Austin executive director Ingrid Spencer, who also serves as artistic director for Creek Show. “Each piece tells a different story, connecting viewers to Waller Creek and the transformative, restorative potential of Waterloo Greenway.”

Exhibits from 2021 included amorphously scaffolded bioplastic “nests” playing natural soundscapes and ambient music; giant glowing succulents that dwarfed people like bugs; and alien sticks poking up out of the ground, forming sparse bundles to wander through.

Creek Show 2022 takes place at Waller Creek between Ninth and 12th streets, November 11 through 20, from 6-10 pm nightly. Alongside the installations, the venue offers “nightly live music, food and beverages, and family-friendly activities.”

View renderings for all of this year's installations in the slideshow above. Tickets will become available this fall.