Pomona Skyspace Art Installation Closed for Repairs

Alex Smith • The Student Life

The lights are off and the pool is empty. “Skyspace: Dividing the Light,” a public art installation at Pomona College created by James Turrell PO ‘65, is closed for repairs for approximately four weeks. Workers from Art & Commerce Productions, Inc. began the project on Tuesday, Feb. 2.

“We have to protect the artist’s integrity and intention,” said Steve Comba, associate director of the Pomona College Museum of Art. Comba noted the “significant loss of luminosity” Skyspace has suffered, and he said he is contractually required to close the installation if it fails to represent the artist's vision. 

The repairs will entail replacing the LED bulbs that produce the installation's vivid colors, fixing a corrosion problem in the wiring that powers those bulbs, and replacing the computer system that controls the lighting.

“It’s taken us nearly a year to get the specifications for a new, replacement system,” Comba said. Because the manufacturer of the bulbs used for the original construction stopped producing them, the college had exhausted its supply The new bulbs will be larger than the originals, and the computer control system will be upgraded as well to allow remote access and monitoring by Turrell’s studio.

Corrosion in the installation’s wires was most likely caused by a flaw in the initial construction. “Water got in,” Comba said, “or at least enough water that some corrosive degradation had happened.” The current repairs should rectify the leakage.

Art & Commerce, or ANC, is based in Burbank, Calif. ANC provides commercial, architectural, and entertainment lighting, as well as lighting system rentals, according to their website. The company did not respond to requests for comment.

Future work on the installation may include the repainting of the surface on which the colors project. For now, however, the museum hopes to host “a big relighting party” when the current repairs are done, Comba said. 

“We’re also hoping to get the artist back out here to re-orchestrate it,” he added.

James Turrell’s studio declined to comment on the repairs.

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