'Sunrise Cube' shines at Bradenton gallery

Artist watched sun rise every day for a year to prepare new work

mclear@bradenton.comJuly 26, 2013 

Chase Jones wants to watch the sunrise with you.

Jones is a visual art student at Florida State University and a couple of years back he set a goal for himself. He wanted to watch the sunrise every day for a year, and he wanted to get 200 different people to watch it with him.

When he finished the project in October 2012, he had watched 366 sunrises (it was a leap year) with 217 different people.

"It was hard getting up, but it wasn't that hard to find people," he said. "Family member, friends, strangers I met at work, just random people. It was easier than you'd think."

From that experience -- which he calls "Sunrise Goal" -- came the inspiration of a performance art piece called "The Sunrise Cube" that he is now touring around the state.

It will be at ArtCenter Manatee at 1 p.m. today. It's free and open to the public.

"I'm really interested in the transition from darkness into light," said Jones, who used to live in this area and graduated from Lakewood Ranch High School. "The sunrise is obviously the best example of that. So my intent was to think about that transition and all the meanings that can be paralleled to our lives."

He created "The Sunrise Cube" with his wife, Jayne, dancer Maggie Shackelford and her husband, Zach.

Spectators sit in a room-sized cube and are immersed by Jones' four-movement wordless meditation on sunrise, presented in

sculpture, music, dance and a light show. The solo dancer is seen only in silhouette.

Jones' experiences watching sunrises by himself, with family and friends and with strangers informed and inspired the piece, he said, but they do not concretely find their way into what the audience sees and hear. There are no pictures of Jones and his companions, no accounts of the sunrise experiences. It's all translated into light, sound and movement.

It's not easy for an undergraduate art student to find galleries that are willing to host such an unusual event. But Jones said the people at ArtCenter Manatee were receptive and even eager to showcase the work.

"I was intrigued," said Carla Nierman, the executive director of ArtCenter Manatee. "It's always great to bring new things to the community. I love the idea of art with movement and it's my job to expand people's perception of what art looks like.

"And besides," she said "He's just a nice guy to work with."

With his yearlong sunrise project completed, Jones and his wife have set a new goal.

"We want to watch a sunrise with a different person once a week for the rest of our lives," he said.

His website www.sunrisegoal.org offers a glimpse of the "The Sunrise Cube" and also lets people contact Jones if they'd like to watch a sunrise with him.

ArtCenter Manatee is at 209 Ninth St. W., Bradenton. For information, call 941-746-2862 or go to www.artcentermanatee.org/the-sunrise-cube.

"The Sunrise Cube" will also come to the Longboat Key Center for the Arts Aug. 21.

Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.

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