06.20.2017

Light show to wash Park Conservatory in psychedelia

Update

For five years, conceptual artist Ben Davis rode his bicycle by the Conservatory of Flowers and wondered what it would look like as a screen for a light show.

On Wednesday night at 9:15 p.m., he will find out, along with an expected 10,000 spectators, when his installation “Photosynthesis” flashes to life as the pinnacle of the “Surrealistic Summer Solstice” free concert in Golden Gate Park and probably the peak moment in the citywide celebration surrounding the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love.

“I would describe this as mildly trippy,” said Davis as he tested the lights for the first time Monday night. The show, which involves a series of psychedelic flowers and insect patterns projected onto the white glass exterior of the Conservatory, will run nightly from sundown until midnight through Oct. 21, funded privately through the San Francisco Parks Alliance.

Davis was also involved in the Bay Lights, which have draped the western span of the Bay Bridge in LED sculpture for four years. Anticipation is high for the Grand Lighting of the Conservatory, and it will build through a three-hour jamby a band of ’60s survivors at a stage set up along John F. Kennedy Drive near the Conservatory.

Produced by Dawn Holliday of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, the concert will roll out Country Joe McDonald to do the “Fish Cheer” and the Chambers Brothers to do “Time.” Original members of Jefferson Airplane and Quicksilver Messenger Service will come and go.

“Photosynthesis” will run in sequences of 15 or 20 minutes then start up again, with the lighting effect created by 10 projectors built into the refreshment kiosks outside the Conservatory. The artwork is a collaboration between Davis’ nonprofit studio, Illuminate, and Obscura Digital, known for lighting big structures like the Sydney Opera House.

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