IDYLLWILD – The Light Years exhibit is a retrospective of industrial designer Michael McEwen’s lighting designs from 1990-2016 and will be open from Oct. 21 through Nov. 17 at the Parks Exhibition Center on the Idyllwild Arts Campus, 52500 Temecula Road.
Along with many early pieces made from assembled found parts collected in salvage yards and thrift stores, the retrospective includes designs were created since 2000 and built by McEwen’s studio, and two new pieces McEwen built this year representing new directions.
Inspiration for McEwen’s contemporary lighting designs come from real and imaginary feats of engineering such as artifacts of the Machine Age, Jules Verne’s futuristic Victorian contraptions or the Hoover Dam. The third-generation Californian and Pasadena native was drawn to all things mechanical at a young age from his skillful finagling of erector-set gizmos to dismantling and resurrecting bicycles and cars.
The artistry inherent in these childhood pursuits incited McEwen’s subsequent creative endeavors when he performed classical ballet in the late 70s and early 80s and later studied textile design at University of California, Davis. As part of a screen-printing assignment, McEwen embarked on a field trip to photograph masses of tangled scrap metal at a junkyard. The fortuitous excursion reawaked McEwen’s captivation with the intricacies of machinery. After further studies in jewelry making, silver smithing and sculpture, the industrial designer assembled his first found-object lamps and chandeliers, artfully integrating such forgotten cast-offs as optical lenses, aircraft fuel filters and cast iron furnace elements.
He established McEwen Lighting Studio in 1990, initially creating custom pieces available through art galleries and private commissions. Eventually, the constraints of found objects gave way to the freedom of fabricating in metals, blown and kiln-formed glass, and hard woods. McEwen Lighting Studio’s current custom pieces and ready-made editions are more modern, emphasizing cleaner silhouettes than their neoclassical antecedents.
Through McEwen’s collaboration with prominent architects, McEwen Lighting Studio lighting can be found illuminating high-end private residences across the country, and shedding light on offices and commercial establishments, such as Pixar, DreamWorks Records, Chaya Brasserie restaurant and Silver Oak Cellars.
The exhibit will be open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m. For more information on Michael McEwen, visit www.mcewenlighting.com, and for gallery information call (951) 659-2171, ext. 2251, or visit www.idyllwildarts.org.