California wine country is one of the most visually breathtaking regions in all the United States. There, miles of vineyards disappear into the horizon, stately tasting rooms reflect both the region’s rich history and the presence of trailblazing newcomers, and a sense of contentment and calm makes every visitor lightheaded before experiencing their first taste of those glorious grapes transformed into a nectar of the gods.
As if all that weren’t enough, wine country just got even better thanks to the artistic genius of Bruce Munro, who recently collaborated with Sensorio to develop a unique garden paradise in Paso Robles.
Munro is famous for his sweeping light-based art shows. Inspired by a 1992 trip he took with his wife to Uluru (Ayers Rock) in Sydney, Australia, the artist has been using the power of light to create living landscapes ever since. Audiences describe his installations as mind-altering experiences that make them ponder the mysteries of the world around them and show them that artificial light and nature can exist in harmony.
The Path to Paso Robles
Munro’s first light exhibit was held back in 2004 in his own field in Wiltshire, England. After that, he created similar installations on waterfronts, stony bluffs, and in forests, as well as on rooftops and in city squares. He first premiered Field of Light for Harvey Nichols, a prestigious London department store, before taking it to the U.S.’ own Nicholas Conservatory in Rockford, Illinois.
In 2016, Munro finally returned to Uluru, the birthplace of his vision, and was gladly given permission to create his masterpiece there by the people in charge. So far, over 200,000 visitors have viewed that installation, which will run until December 2020.
Bigger and Bolder
Covering a 15-acre space in Sensorio’s massive development and described by owner/developer Ken Hunter as a “playground for the mind,” Munro’s new California exhibit is his largest show to date at any location, as well as his first American exhibit run solely on solar energy. It consists of 58,800 glistening round lights illuminated by fiber optics. These lights shine in a rainbow of colors and transform the site into delicate blossoms of transforming hues.
Field of Light also provides an ideal way to introduce Sensorio to the world. Slated to open in 2021, the Hunters describe it as a “destination for entertainment, exploration, meditation, adventure, and delight,” all of which sound like perfect complements to Munro’s mind-expanding show.
A Little Help From His Friends
It took five weeks to install the 50,000-plus lights for the installation, all done by volunteers who worked eight hours a day, five days a week to finish the job. Munro gave the team free reign on where to place the fiber optic lamps, ultimately trusting their vision and intuition. He says of this decision: “It’s like planting — improvising, not me dictating. I’ve learned that the more I try to control things the worse it is.”
If you’re visiting California anytime between now and January 5, 2020, you’ve got to check out this attraction. Paso Robles, located on the Central Coast off Highway 46, is famous for its seemingly endless olive groves, hot springs, and bounty of wineries, so you’ll have no problem finding stuff to do after you’ve seen the light.