Lights, music and magic

Museum of Outdoor Arts' Lonnie Hanzon puts finishing touches on the front of a 1958 classic car bedecked in swarovski crystals, colored lights and rhinestones. The car, named Holly Berry, has lights that flash to music and will be a mobile advertisement for Hudson Holiday light show at Hudson Gardens in Littleton. Photo by Courtney Kuhlen
Posted

As we go to press, exceedingly artistic Museum of Outdoor Arts elves are stringing lights in the trees and on the Hudson Residence, rounding up a herd of electric sheep and assorted other life-sized critters (including an elephant), stringing miles of electric cord and readying fantastic flora, Emry Gweldig’s wagons, giant lighted yuccas — as well as inventing a collection of new exhibits.

The Second Annual Hudson Holiday Light Display opens Nov. 19 and runs through New Year’s Day at Hudson Gardens and Events Center.

Fifteen of Hudson Gardens’ acres are filled with state of the art lighting — LED lights use very little energy and last a long time. Those electric sheep are highlighted with constantly changing algorithm projections.

“Hazel and Fred sold the the crazy Holiday House (built around the Hudson Residence), to a nice gentleman” Lonnie Hanzon reports, tongue firmly in cheek. The new owner (name to be announced as soon as he thinks of it), has learned that he will have to deal with keeping the house lighting show going with its 120 light channels, multiple song book and special effects and he is not happy— more on this when it’s all figured out!

Hanzon invents stories constantly to accompany the objects that grow out of his imagination. He said this is his 29th Christmas season — he’s designed displays in Hong Kong, Dallas and elsewhere, as well as Denver store windows and previous displays for the MOA at Fiddler’s Green and Cherry Creek.

To date, he’s named most of the 20 new doll houses that will form a village in the demonstration garden where the dahlia display holds forth in season. Each roof has individually-nailed-down miniature shingles and they were built, assembled, painted and left out in the rain, then re-glued and touched up where necessary to make them weather-proof. Look for a Striped House, the Paisley House, Checkered House, Rococo House, Checkered, Bubble, etc. Each will be lit with new miniature LED lights Hanzon has developed with Diogen Lighting, the international Centennial-based company which manufactures millions of commercial and residential LED lights and supports this project.

Hanzon promises two new trains, a trolley and a new train village which includes a toy factory, city hall and more, built in a smaller scale (one-half inch to 2 feet) than the doll houses, with a similar level of detail.

Another new attraction is a luminous garden, carefully located in the wetland area. Magical plants will be illuminated with black light. Because everything must be safe for this delicate environment, no paint could be used, because it might flake off. Hanzon talks of prowling through hardware departments with a miniature black light, looking for materials that are reactive to it. Flowers are cut from recycled pop bottles, plastic cables and other items will glow under special large black light equipment.

Along the horse and carriage paths will be motion controlled lights that will come up — gently, “little scampers of light” — as the carriages approach. When asked how the horses might react, Hanzon says he discussed this with the handler, who said these horses are accustomed to navigating in downtown Denver traffic and nothing upsets them.

“I’m helping more with the marketing this year,” he said.

To broadcast the display’s presence among us, the Wizard in Residence at the MOA (aka creative director), has created what he calls “my promotional car.” After searching the Internet for a nearby beautiful old Cadillac that runs, he narrowed the search from 400 to about 20 and went shopping. The result is a huge purple 1958 Seville, which is street safe after a visit to the shop, ready to roll. It was ready to debut at the Nov. 6 Night at the Museums and elsewhere in weekend metrowide holiday parades and events. Hanzon hopes to draw families from the north side of the metro area, as well as repeat visits (with their friends) of the thousands who visited in 2009.

This art car has 1200 LED lights in patterns, antique Swarovski crystals on the grill, a 20 channel music system and a tree on top with bubble machine. Of course, it is labeled with Hudson Holiday information and spangled with stars. He will stop on private property to “do its show,” rather than being a dangerous distraction in traffic. Since it guzzles gas, it won’t go more than 30 mph.

Hanzon says art cars are very popular elsewhere across the country, where there are festivals and shows, but they haven’t really caught on yet in Denver. This should probably get other creative minds working.

If you go: