Jeff Grantz, Executive Director of Illuminus, brings together Boston’s finest creative minds for the annual nighttime arts festival
Since 2014, the annual Illuminus festival has dazzled Boston with a nighttime display of unforgettable contemporary art. “At Illuminus, you see the city as a magical wonderland, reimagined through the lens of artists, designers and architects,” says founder and executive director Jeff Grantz. The free event entices countless onlookers outdoors each November. “It’s one of the only events that I can think of for which tens of thousands of people gather in an urban setting for the sake of seeing contemporary art.”
For Grantz, Illuminus grew from a career spent honing skills in both art and technology. The RISD-educated designer built themed environments for Universal Studios, Disney and SeaWorld on behalf of Boston-based Design Communication Ltd. He started the company Materials and Methods, which focused on designing and building integrated digital media installations. “My interest has always been in shaping people’s experiences by combining light, video, animation and sound with physical environments,” he says. Eventually, Grantz became involved in Nuit Blanche, a nighttime art festival in New York. This convinced him to bring a similar concept to Boston, where “the creative people who work in my field were desperate for that kind of platform.” The first Illuminus was held in the SoWa Art + Design District, a hot spot for contemporary art in Boston.
This year, Illuminus is held November 2 & 3 in the heart of the Hub at Downtown Crossing. “Boston’s Downtown has such a wide variety of architectural features—a good mix of condensed, intimate spaces alongside open areas where we can have large gatherings,” Grantz explains. Last year’s festival, also Downtown, attracted more than 80,000 attendees who filled the pedestrian sections of Washington and Summer streets, delighting in mesmerizing projections, a “digital graffiti” demonstration, interactive art projects, thought-provoking dance performances and much more. Grantz promises a similar atmosphere this year, yet is also proud to have a completely new lineup of artists.
“That’s really our intent,” he continues. “We want to amplify and enhance the local creative community’s opportunity to present new work at a larger scale, in a larger context like this.…The event draws a truly diverse cross-section of the city. It’s one of those rare, shared experiences in Boston that resonates with people across the board and is wonderful for artists.”
November 2 & 3 at Downtown Crossing, illuminusboston.org