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Creek Show: Austinites see Waller Creek in a New Light

As the sun set over Waller Creek last thursday, Creek Show Light Night brought life to Waller Creek in a way it has never seen before. From the start of happy hour at Easy Tiger to the closing act at Empire Control Room, Light Night was full of just that – light. A light that grew brighter as the night moved on, not only from the light installations and glow sticks, but from the excitement that each Austinite brought when they saw a glimpse of what the future of Waller Creek could hold.

Before the event started, I, like most Creek Show viewers bundled up in my warmest scarf and heaviest coat for the below freezing night ahead, but something about the crisp winter air that night added a festive flare. There was a warm holiday spirit that flowed through the space as Creek Show lit up the night.

For the majority of the night I got to hang out right below Sabine Deck, behind Waller Ballroom down on the creek, between 6th street and 7th street. From there I helped man an information and merchandise table with other Waller Creek Conservancy staff and volunteers. As we answered Creek Show-goers questions, we had a front row seat to watch the masses of Austinites circulate through Light Night. In true Austin fashion this location lent to exceptional people watching. My personal favorite site of the night, other than the phenomenal light installations of course, has to be the 6 foot something man strutting through Waller Creek in a full length coat made of nothing but stuffed animals. Yes, let that sink in for a moment. Full length stuffed animal coat on a 6 foot plus man. It was glorious.

Halfway through the night I took my own stroll through the light installations. I decided the best way to start my Creek Show experience had to begin with a hot chai latte from Easy Tiger. Once I had the chai in hand – also a great hand warmer for the excursion – I started my walk at the “Light Bridge” installation designed by Legge Lewis Legge. “Light Bridge” shimmered as it swayed in the wind and mesmerized its viewers with the seemingly effortlessness of its beauty. Next up on my walk was the “Flow” installation by Design Workshop. “Flow” captured the liveliness and warmth of its location by projecting colorful lights onto weaving tapestries that spanned across the width of the creek directly next to Easy Tiger’s patio. Flowing with light and people, this location was bustling all night! As I made my way through the 6th street tunnel, I found myself in the middle of two more art installations with Jason Sowell’s “Hidden Measures” at my feet and Baldrigde Architects’ “Tracing the Line” lighting up the creek beside me. “Hidden Measures” used photo luminescent paint stencils to educate viewers about the history of Waller Creek, its physical dimensions and the diversion tunnel under works now. “Tracing the Line” illuminated the length of the creek with equally spaced suspended luminaries that encouraged viewers to see the creek as a growing force with a bright future and real potential. I ended my Creek Show walk at the “High Water Mark” installation designed by Thoughtbarn located inside the 7th street tunnel. Much like it’s name alludes “High Water Mark” illustrated the 100-year-floodplain mark with glowing EL wire sculpted to imitate the flow of the water running below it.

On Novemeber 13, 2014 Waller Creek not only experienced a transformation physically, but in the eyes of Austinites as well. People from across the city gathered to witness firsthand the potential Waller Creek has to be a powerful and uniting space in Austin. I am so grateful to have been a part of Creek Show Light Night and to see the growth of this phenomenal space!!

-Riane Yates