Artist Karl Unnasch working on the top of the Positivi-Tree, this year’s holiday public art installation. Photo by Mike Diegel.
“With the umbrellas this year, we were thinking about something colorful, multi-shaped, multi-pattern . . . mirroring the diversity of Silver Spring here, which is really incredible,” said Jon Taylor, designer of this year’s holiday tree, the public art installation for the annual Re-Imagining the Holidays event on Ellsworth Drive.
Taylor and his partner, public artist Karl Unnasch, are friends from grad school who have teamed up for the third year on the holiday tree.
“Karl does public art sculpture, I do a lot of custom fabrication in wood, metal design, store fixtures, so our skills complement each other nicely,” he said.
This year’s 35-foot tall installation, dubbed the Positivi-Tree, features several hundred umbrellas in many shapes, sizes and colors, and will be illuminated from within. After the installation comes down, undamaged umbrellas will be donated to charity.
“Metaphorically, the idea of the umbrella is shelter, inclusion, and the tree will be lit from the inside with a bunch of LED projectors that have a pretty cool water ripple light effect,” Taylor said. “Umbrellas [are] colorful in the daytime and then they function as kind of projection screen for the light on the inside at night.”
The official lighting will take place during a street party on Fountain Plaza Nov. 12 starting at 6 p.m. The event will be hosted by Tommy McFly from 94.7 Fresh FM and will feature musical performances, a beer and seasonal sangria station, games such as cornhole and foosball, along with a fire pit, food tastings and other attractions.
“New for this year are the umbrellas in the breezeway activating that space as kind of like a prelude as you’re walking through from the parking garage out into the open space and then you see the tree,” Taylor said. “We’ve gotten a really good response from that so far, especially the kids.”
“We hope to inspire people to reach out and offer ‘shelter’ – in any of its many forms – to those in need of sanctuary, said the two men in an artists’ statement. “An act of kindness can increase the peace. This year’s holiday iteration sends a message to encourage positivity, open unity and welcome friendship.”
Another view of Unnasch working on the tree’s top. Photo by Mike Diegel.