John Powell has worked as a sculptor for most of his life. Born in Los Angeles, he spent his high school years chasing trains with a 4×5 camera. His first job was with a tiny art gallery on La Cienaga Boulevard. The gallery was called Modern Masters and had an interesting collection of George Segal chalk drawings, a tiny Jackson Pollock and endless Dali prints. The owner was Sydney Janis brother, Martin. After college he moved to Idaho, building his own studio deep in the Snake River Canyon using native rock, steel mullioned windows and corrugated galvanized iron. Periodic teaching gigs at Haystack and Penland brought him to the East Coast and eventually led to meetings with Lowry Burgess, Otto Piene and Gyorgy Kepes. In the 1980’s he moved from the West Coast to Boston. He enrolled in the graduate program at Mass Art in 1984 as a continuing education student and within two years earned his MFA. He applied to the program at the Center for Advanced Visual Studies at MIT and in 1986 was appointed as Otto Piene’s teaching assistant. He participated in a number of Center projects (www.mit.edu/cavs) in France, Germany, Denmark and Finland. He continued at CAVS as a research fellow after receiving his degree, working in holography and spatial imaging until 1993.
He established a studio on Thayer Street in Boston in 1984, where he worked restoring iron and stone building facades in the South End of Boston. Gaining access to foundry and stone yards helped develop a familiarity with materials that later led to work in public art. Thayer Street dead ends into the South East Expressway; this part of Boston was pretty desolate in the mid ‘80’s. One of his first large scale installations was the illumination of the underside of the expressway viaduct, soon to be destroyed.
Seeing disused mercury vapor street lights in the Boston Public Works scrap yard, he got permission to “borrow” the lights. Installed under the soon to be demolished roadway, these lights became one his first large scale architectural installations. This installation and an illumination of Thayer Street were included by David Ross and Lia Gangitano in Boston, Now at Boston’s ICA in 1987.
In 1993 Mr. Powell started Light Time in Space, Inc. to seriously look at the development of public art based on the idea that light can be made a palpable part of public projects. His consulting work with GTE Sylvania led to projects using holographic imaging systems to create “flat lenses”. Residencies and installations in Denmark at the Gammel Doks Center for Art and Craft led to permanent work for the City of Denver. Staying involved with the extremes in lighting has turned into a habit, most recently in work with Luminus Devices in Sudbury, Mass to developed a color changing high output LED fixture and Color Kinetics to illuminate Boston’s first new lift bridge in seventy years.
Mr. Powell’s work continues with innovated lighting techniques in both studio work and major installations. He worked closely with the Charles River Conservancy to illuminate four bridges linking Boston to Cambridge in first decade of 2000. The Evelyn Moakley bridge (2004) over Fort Point Channel is a Browne Fund project designed and installed by Mr. Powell as was the illumination of the dome of the Cyclorama (1993) and Dudley Town Common (1996) . Dana Park Quotes, a project commissioned by the Cambridge Arts Council was completed in 2008. At the WGBH and New Balance world headquarters in Brighton, Mass, Mr. Powell designed and built three 24 foot tall wind driven zoetropes –animating figures installed within the wheels illustrating significant milestones in the history of Brighton, Mass; a commission by the New Balance Company. And most recently the Innovation Lab at the Harvard Business School commissioned projections that are installed on the façade of their new building at 125 Western Avenue (2011).
Mr. Powell works as a consultant on lighting projects for Fay Spofford and Thorndike and Vanasse Hangen and Brustlin. Mr. Powell is represented by Howard Yezerski Gallery, Boston.www.howardyezerskigallery.com
1989 Master of Science in Visual Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
1986 Masters of Fine Arts, 3-D, Massachusetts College of Art
Teaching and Professional Work
Owner and CEO of Light Time in Space, Incorporated, a Massachusetts corporation, 1992 to the present.
1990-1995 Lecturer in Design, History of Design and Aesthetics at Endicott College, Beverly, Massachusetts
1990-91 Lecturer, Environmental Holography, MIT
2010 to present projects have included:
Chelsea Street lift bridge, City of Boston
Illumination of the USS Constitution. US Navy
U Mass, Boston, Harbor Walk
Consultant to Vanasse Hangen Brustlin,
River access in Springfield, Massachusetts
Illumination of replacement Burns Bridge in Worcester, Mass.
Past projects have included:
The Innovation Lab at the Harvard Business School
Consultant to the City of Boston, Browne Fund
Illumination of the Evelyn Moakley Bridge
Charles River Conservancy, Illumination of Charles River Bridges
Illumination of Parking Structure at the Denver Performing Arts Center
Consultant at Fay Spofford and Thorndike.
Weeks Footbridge, LED lighting $28,000.00
Dana Park Quotes, $12,000.00, City of Cambridge
Illumination of Western Avenue Bridge, $18,000.00, Charles River Conservancy
Zoetrope Project, Brighton, Massachusetts, $87,000.00, Brighton Landing LLC
Larz Anderson Bridge Illumination, Cambridge, Ma $32,000.00
China Town Gateway, Boston $67,000.00
Weeks Footbridge, Cambridge, Ma $28,000.00
Meryl’s Sticks, Boston, Ma, Copper and Bronze, $12,000.00, GTI Management
Evelyn Moakley Bridge Illumination, Boston, $67,000.00
Light Mural, Boston Wharf Company, $14,000.00
Denver Performing Arts Complex, Garage Structure Illumnation,$57,000.00
Selected Exhibitions & Installations
– Howard Yezerski Gallery, Boston MA
– Howard Yezerski Gallery, Boston MA
– Fragments, Cambridge Arts Council,, CAC Gallery
– Headlines and Notations, GASP Gallery Brookline, MA
– Suffolk University Gallery, Boston MA
– Weeks Footbridge—Harvard University and the Charles River Conservancy, permanent illumination
– LIT, Simmons College, Trustman Gallery, Strobe light projectors – orbs of light covered with words movement activated
– LightLine: An installation in Norton’s Wood at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in Cambridge, Ma
– Words on Fire, etched glass projections of words of disassociation–words that shatter society and culture
– Howard Yezerski Gallery, Boston
– SITE:Endicott, Curated and installed four site specific works installed at Endicott College, Beverly Ma by John Powell, Beth Galston, Halstead Harris and Bill Wainwright.
– Meryl’s Sticks, 20 foot by 10 by 10 bronze, stone and light installation for GTI properties, Boston Permanent commission from GTI Properties.
– Logan 3, rendering for installation at Logan International Airport proposed elevator towers–one meter diameter dichroic glass lenses mounted on dampened swivels–redirect ambient light and color throughout atrium space
– Illumination of the Charles River Bridges, Four bridges spanning the Charles River between Cambridge and Boston, sponsored by the Charles River Conservancy
– Illumination of the Evelyn Moakley Bridge City of Boston, Trust Office, Brown Fund Grant, permanent installation
– Elemental Projections, Howard Yezerski Gallery, Boston, Ma
– Light Prop, Copenhagen Contemporary Art Center, Copenhagen, DK
– Shadow Draft, Fuller Museum of Art, Brockton, Ma. Site installation
The Charlottenborg Wedge Installation at the Charlottenborg Exhibition Hall, Copenhagen, DK
The Book of Light, projections on the facade of Boston Public Library for the millennium celebration and First Night, Boston
Cast Shadows, Creiger-Dane Gallery, Boston, Ma.
Twi-Light permanent installation on the parking structure for the Denver preforming arts complex.
Jerusalem Windows, installation at the at the Starr Gallery, Leventhal-Sidman Jewish Community Center, Newton, Ma
Sculpture, September 2007, Vol. 26, no. 7 pg 74
Inventing the Charles River, Karl Haglund MIT press, October 2002 – cited for illumination projects on the Charles River
LYS (light) (magazine for professional lighting work–published in Denmark) April 2000 pp45-47 with illustration
Lyskunst I Danmark, (Art in Light in Denmark) Helge Krarup, 2000 forlaget politisk revy ISBN 87 7378 197 5 pg 126
Landscape Architecture Sept. 1996 pp 48-53
Boston Globe Dec. 14, 1995 pp77-78
Art New England Feb/Mar. 1994 page 23
Practical Holography VIII S. Benton, SPIE, San Jose, CA 1994 cit21-76-19
Leonardo Vol. 26, No. 5 1993 J. Brigham pp379-385
LEF Foundation: for projects through the Charles River Conservancy (illumination of the Weeks Memorial foot bridge) and the illumination of the Boston Center for the Arts.
ART Grant, Taconic/Berkshire foundation– exhibition at Simmons College
Browne Fund, City of Boston