Illuminating Maine’s Deep Winter with Light Sculptures

by Nancy Rosenbaum, producer

Castle in the Park - Deering Oaks Park - Portland, Maine"Castle in the Park" at Deering Oaks Park in Portland, Maine. (photo: David LaCasse)

The holidays are over and there’s no getting around the fact that it’s January and bitter cold in the Upper Midwest. The days, while inching longer into light, are still short. Now is the time of deep winter, when a touch of light goes a long way.

Last week, as I caught a glimpse of holiday lights being dismantled from an indoor public tree display, I thought, “Already? It’s not even New Year’s. Now’s the time when we need the light the most.”

The good people of Portland, Maine understand this need in their watery bones. From Thanksgiving through Valentine’s Day, the city is bedecked in glorious light sculptures designed by local artist Pandora LaCasse. For over a decade, Ms. LaCasse has been transforming public parks and buildings into canvases for her light art.   

Along the Pond  Deering Oaks"Along the Pond" at Deering Oaks Park in Portland, Maine. (photo: David LaCasse)

Ms. LaCasse, a native of Maine, says that place matters in her work and that the state’s landscape inspires her creativity. As she told one interviewer, “I’m always trying to get the essence of a place. I think people like the lights because it’s the middle of winter and they respond to the color and light. And it’s accessible.”

Tommy's Park - Portland, Maine
Tommy’s Park in Portland, Maine. (photo: David LaCasse)

The Candelabra - Deering Oaks Park - Portland, Maine"The Candelabra" at Deering Oaks Park, Portland, Maine. (photo: David LaCasse)

Cascading Spheres Maine College of Art, Portland, Maine"Cascading Spheres" adorn the face of the Maine College of Art in Portland, Maine. (photo: David LaCasse)

Ms. LaCasse’s color-drenched creations feature abstract shapes found in nature, like teardrops and orbs. They’re not the stuff of Santa, candy canes, and the nativity. I once lived in Maine and now make my home in Saint Paul, Minnesota where my neighbors festoon their homes with holiday lights. As much as I admire these wintry displays, I do so as a non-Christian outsider, who’s observing them from afar. Pandora’s lights were different. I could love them without feeling excluded. They were a balm for my soul in deep winter and I miss them.

Longfellow Square - Portland, MaineLongfellow Square in Portland, Maine. (photo: David LaCasse)

Little Diamond Island - MaineLittle Diamond Island. (photo: David LaCasse)

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    Click the link to see the incredible light show!
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