Night Lights will return to Griffis Sculpture Park this fall, and I can guarantee it is an experience like nothing you’ve witnessed before. A portion of the park will be transformed with creative lighting that will illuminate the trails and its larger-than-life sculptures. Coupled with live performances, Night Lights showcases creativity at its finest in a natural setting amongst the beauty of Griffis Sculpture Park. Doug Sitler, Night Lights creator and exhibitionist, recently sat down with The Summer Local to talk about the event and how it came to be.
SPENCER: What brought you to do Night Lights at Griffis?
DOUG: I’ve been a long-time volunteer at the park. It made sense to combine what we have to offer with the sculpture park, that those two things would make a perfect marriage. We like that it’s closer to Buffalo and feel it adds to the Ellicottville area as well.
SPENCER: Where are you from originally?
DOUG: I’ve been in Buffalo the last 25 years (since college), but I grew up in Frewsburg.
SPENCER: What kind of artwork will be displayed?
DOUG: We’re going to be bringing in mainly lights to illuminate the sculptures, but there will be some small performances, like dancers. We’re getting commitments now, and there will be surprises throughout the show. Other Night Lights hire a lot of local musicians, but the sculpture park isn’t set up for that - it’s not the vibe we’re going for. A little movie area, as well as a sculpture park informational movie … people can walk around, learn about the park and what they just walked through … highlight some of the things that Griffis created. The park is around 50 years old!
SPENCER: How do you keep the lights on?
DOUG: We use about a mile and a half of power lines and cords. We also use 95% LED lights. We’re down to a few that aren’t LED, between the low power and the electrical grid, that’s how we’re able to do it. The LED doesn’t draw as much power, so it’s a little more environmentally friendly.
SPENCER: What kind of inspiration led you to Night Lights?
DOUG: There’s an Art Installation in Providence, RI called Waterfire that I went to in 1998. It’s a half-mile of walking along the river with torches out in the middle. When I walked through it, it left such an impression on me - like walking through an art project. We wanted to create something similar … almost an experience. Light and nature mingle together so well. We’re not competing with Vegas - we want it to be a relaxing night.
SPENCER: What other venues have hosted you?
DOUG: Probably one of my favorites is the Erie County Botanical Gardens, where we did a show a couple years ago. It was wildly successful, and that might be my favorite one. As of right now, we’ve sold (throughout the entirety of the Night Lights exhibit) over 39,000 tickets, meaning we’re knocking at 40,000. If you had told me that when I first started, I would’ve labeled you as crazy. Over $150,000 has been raised and donated to charity. This is the type of thing that gets people out of their houses, trying something new, going to a spot they’ve never been for. I love that about this. It helps the local economies out as well, and gives people something new to look forward to or get them out for a repeat visit.
Night Lights at Griffis Sculpture Park will run Sept. 14-Oct. 8 (Wed/Thurs 7:30-9:30pm; Fri/Sat 7:30-10pm); and Sun, Oct. 9 from 7:30-10pm. For those planning to attend this year’s Night Lights at Griffis Sculpture Park, please remember to dress appropriately for the weather and bring a flashlight. In the case of heavy rains, Night Lights may be cancelled. Follow Griffis Sculpture Park on Facebook for updates. Griffis Sculpture Park is located at 6902 Mill Valley Road, East Otto, NY 14729. Learn more about Griffis Sculputre Park at www.griffispark.org. For more about Night Lights including pricing, etc. go to www.nightlightshq.com.