Oregon City, Oregon debuted an outdoor light show that was projected on the city’s iconic 130-foot outdoor municipal elevator earlier this month. City officials hope the display projected on the elevator will attract visitors who will patronize local businesses. The show is also an attempt to showcase Oregon City’s downtown revival projects, such as the addition of outdoor lighting and sculptures.
Illuminate Oregon City is a joint collaboration between the city, the Clackamas County Arts Alliance, Main Street Oregon City, and Portland State University’s architecture department. The project cost a total of about $240,000 and is partially funded by a $100,000 National Endowment for the Arts “Our Town” matching grant.
A local arts coalition put out an international call for project submissions, and artist Tiffany Carbonneau’s idea was selected. She sought input from the public in designing the video show and chose scenes that reflected Oregon City’s history, as well as its present and its landscape, including local falls, mountains, Main Street, a bridge, and a map of the Oregon Trail. One of the projected images is of the famous elevator’s motor.
Carbonneau is an assistant art professor at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky who specializes in projected light displays. Some of her other projects have been displayed on buildings around the world, including South Africa and Poland.
The Oregon City elevator was originally constructed in 1912 to be used by mill workers commuting from their homes on the bluff to factories located near the river. It was replaced in 1955 and is still operated by a person. It is one of only a handful of municipally owned outdoor elevators in the world. The city painted the elevator and made repairs to prepare it for the light show. The column was painted white, and the observation deck and entry were painted silver.
The film was accompanied on the opening night by a street party with wine from local wineries, a jazz trio, and an opportunity for the public to meet the artist. The outdoor show will run nightly from dusk through midnight for the next 12 months.