Georgetown Glow’s Alight, Balancing the Whimsical and Sentimental

By Hailey Wharram

The Georgetown Business Improvement District (BID) is enthusiastically sponsoring the ninth annual Georgetown Glow festival which began Friday evening, Dec. 1, in Georgetown’s commercial district.

Five unique art light displays created in collaboration with Light Art Collection have been sprinkled across the Georgetown neighborhood and will be illuminated every night through Jan. 7 between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. Each free, public art display along Georgetown Glow’s 0.7 mile walking tour route has an adjoining informational stand which provides a brief artist bio and contextualizes the artistic intentions behind the display. 

Among other upcoming festivities in accordance with Georgetown Glow 2023, BID is hosting Glow Shopping Night & Cocktail Crawl on Wednesday, Dec. 6. During this event, dozens of participating Georgetown businesses will be staying open later into the evening and offering a series of promotional deals for their customers to enjoy.

Taking the Illuminated Walking Tour

“Rotifers” is the first stop on Georgetown Glow’s 2023 walking tour. Located on Canal Lock 4 between Thomas Jefferson and 31st Streets, Nicole Anona Banowetz’s whimsical display features a series of illuminated inflatables modeled after the titular, multi-cellular, aquatic and microscopic creatures. Watching each glowing rotifer softly shift between a kaleidoscopic range of hues is nothing short of delightful. 

“Rotifers” at Georgetown GLOW 2023. Photo by Hailey Wharram.

“Follow the Light,” the second stop on the walking tour, is located at Washington Harbour Lawn on K and 30th Streets NW. Designed by Thiadmer van Galen, Jasper van Roden, and Olav van Enkhuijzen from the Netherlands, this kinetic display includes four illuminated spheres which whizz around a labyrinthine metal track before arriving at an elevator and repeating the loop once more. The smooth yet swift pace with which the balls glide through the course coupled with the steadily changing colors makes gazing upon this display a simultaneously relaxing and transfixing experience.

“Follow the Light” at Georgetown Glow 2023. Photo by Hailey Wharram.

Georgetown Glow’s third stop, “Talking Heads,” is the shining star of this year’s lights tour. Framed majestically against the night skyline of Georgetown Waterfront Park, these two elevated, luminescent statues feature around 4,000 LED lights arranged in linear configurations meant to mimic human muscle patterns. As the lined-up lights flicker on and off in sequence like falling dominoes, Hungarian artist Viktor Vicsek’s creation invites onlookers to ignite their imaginations in pondering the emotions each face might be experiencing while looking at one another. 

“Talking Heads” at Georgetown Glow 2023. Photo by Hailey Wharram.

“When you look sad, someone is inclined to comfort you. When you laugh, you invite someone to join you. In this installation, two spectacular heads also show countless emotions and react to one another. But unlike people, ‘Talking Heads’ don’t use muscles to do it,” reads a blurb on the informational stand accompanying “Talking Heads.” 

Operating under the artist name “Streetart Frankey,” Dutch artist Frank de Ruwe is the creative mind behind “Darth Fisher.” In this merry display, Darth Vader perches upon the roof of the Museum of Failure with a red lightsaber-style fishing rod poised in hand. Contrary to this iconic character’s typical notorious depiction, Streetart Frankey playfully presents the Star Wars villain in a docile light in “Darth Fisher,” complete with a wrapped holiday present at the end of his line.  

“Darth Fisher” at Georgetown Glow 2023. Photo by Hailey Wharram.

Last, “Neighborhood” by American artist Sergey Kim is a stunning display hovering aloft Cady’s Alley. Though airing one’s dirty laundry out in the open is typically frowned upon, in the case of “Neighborhood,” onlookers wouldn’t have it any other way. By publicly examining the intimate process of doing laundry, a universal hallmark of domestic life, “Neighborhood” invokes powerful feelings of harmonious community. Fittingly, this display features clean, unblinking white lights. While walking under these illuminated clotheslines, the simplistic lighting design creates an enchanting, peaceful ambience. 

“Neighborhood” at Georgetown Glow 2023. Photo by Hailey Wharram.

“Glowing white garments, T-shirts, underwear, trousers, a pair of wide Turkish pants, a Moroccan djellaba, and more: together these pieces represent the cultural and ethnic mix of residents in the city as a subtle but surprising intervention in the cityscape,” reads the installation’s adjoining informational text. 

A map of Georgetown Glow’s 2023 walking tour can be found here. Additionally, more information about each of these art displays and their creators can be found here.






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