May 20, 2008

First of 75 wondrous spheres arrives...

The spheres are coming! Or call it Sphere Madness, its official name, suggested by Lauren DeMorrow of Racine, winner of a contest to name the event.

Racine's downtown summer art project put on by the Downtown Racine Corporation is just days away from transforming Main and Sixth Streets into a kaleidoscope of colors, a cacophony of creativity -- at least that's my impression after seeing the first of the completed spheres to be delivered to DRC.

Done by Tammy Easton of Racine, it is called Hemispherium. It's an intricately crafted mosaic...thousands of tile and glass pieces of every hue. Besides being beautiful, it serves a useful purpose: it's also a working sun dial! The sphere was sponsored by Dr. Michael Westman, DDS.

Seventy-four additional 32-inch spheres -- each transformed by a different local artist -- will make their first appearance on street on Monday, June 2. But first, they will show off at a preview party at Wingspread on Saturday, May 31, from 5-8 p.m.

Terry Leopold, DRC's director of special events (above with Hemispherium), said the spheres will be delivered to DRC next week, in preparation for the party, where they'll be displayed outdoors on Wingspread's lawn. The preview party and '50s sock hop! -- called Goodness Gracious, Great Balls of Art (with apologies to Jerry Lee Lewis, I suppose) -- will be from 5 to 8 p.m. at Wingspread. The $125 per person ticket price includes food, open bar, live entertainment.

This is the seventh year in a row that DRC has conducted its public art project. The spheres will be on display Downtown through Labor Day. In September, they will be auctioned to the highest bidders.

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