By Alex Gallagher
After having to downsize its signature piece last year, Walter Productions is excited to bring the fire back to Canal Convergence.
This year’s piece will be an iteration of its 2018 piece titled “Floatus.” That series comprised floating fire features that shot flames up to 30 feet in the air.
This year, “Floom” will be a series of stainless-steel water lilies that flow through the canal and produce flames and lights choreographed to music.
“It’s the return of the fire show,” Canal Convergence Public Art Manager Jennifer Gill says. “We missed that last year because of COVID-19, and we finally feel comfortable enough to go forward with it.”
Despite lots of art, music and food at the site, Walter Productions has been the center of attention at Canal Convergence since it was commissioned to create a sculpture in 2018.
“Really, the thing that we bring is the show,” Walter Productions founder Kirk Strawn says. “We provide an interactive show, we play music that people know and will sing along to and it’s a live choreographed thing that plays off the energy of the crowd.”
Fans can expect “Floom” to incorporate the signature elements of every Walter Productions piece.
“Our art pieces are collaborative pieces that integrate sculptural elements as well as kinetic elements like fire, choreography and LED lights,” Strawn says. “Those have been the signature elements of most of the pieces we’ve made.”
These are elements that Strawn feels will complement the ambiance of Canal Convergence.
“We try to bridge the ambiance by creating something beautiful,” he says. “We take a lot of time to make sure that it’s beautiful no matter when you see it,” Gill says.
“The way they’re going to be working with the concept of the flowers and reinvigorating it will have a beautiful contemporary feel that will fit right in with the overall flow of this year’s artwork.”
Strawn has made the piece stand out by bringing on Sean French, an artist who specializes in metal sculpting, to add to the detail of the work.
“I became interested in creating something that’s exciting and can be bigger than itself,” French says about working on “Floom.”
“Floom” will be one of the largest pieces on display at Canal Convergence this November and requires a considerable amount of logistics for its on-site build.
“There’s a lot of design that goes into integrating lighting, fire, floatation and operationalizing it all together,” Strawn says. “We’re really trying to adapt these creative elements so that everybody gets something out of it.”
Strawn and French hope that even if attendees cannot make it to one of the nearly 30 fire shows spread across the 10-day event, they can admire the stagnant piece.
“I want people to see this work and have a wow effect and then look deeper to find a subject matter that it’s talking about,” French says.
The tandem is most excited to show off what their new project can do.
“The beauty of these sculptures is next level for us,” Strawn says. “We’ve gained a lot more experience with the choreography over the years, and we’re going to hone our shows to emphasize the energy and connection that these shows bring to the event.”
The lilies is the only illuminating feature of “Floom.” Strawn says there will be another fire element that has not been part of previous shows on display.
Walter Productions will build on one of its most successful creations to be able to show a large fire-based piece once again, he says.
“It’s such an exciting environment to put art in,” French says. “It’s so neat to be in the element of water in that really cool space.”