Lux Sit And Dance

 
 

Seattle based Light Show that ran between 1966 and 1970 started by Don Paulson.

 

Lightshows in Seattle

By Robin Oppenheimer

Posted May 14th 2003

HistoryLink.org Essay 4173 - https://www.historylink.org/File/4173

 

The first lightshow in the Seattle area occurred on November 5, 1966, when KRAB radio (one of the first community-based FM radio stations in the country) held a benefit concert in Kirkland.

It was this event that birthed both the Union Light Company and Lux Sit and Dance lightshows.

Though short-lived, this history is rich in stories and characters, and connects Seattle to both East Coast and West Coast lightshow histories that had different roots, cultures, and aesthetics.

 

Lux Sit and Dance (1967-1970)

Basic Members: Don Paulson, Scott Rohrer, Sharon Bealls, Rick Lotz, Russell Burton, Saulius Pempe, Richard Frahm, Tim Kyle; Contributing Members: Steve Lervold, Diane Scott, Michael LaRue, Don Pospeshil, Dan Brickbauer, Tom Joiner, Tim Hadlett, Bill, Tracy and Mary Sherhart, P. J. Doyle, Tim Nolan, David Coleman, Patra Leaming, Bryan Kollman, Penny Clay, George Comito, Mark Allen.

Lux Sit and Dance was organized by Don Paulson, a visual artist and E.A.T. (Experiments in Art and Technology) Seattle chapter member, in January 1967 in Seattle. UW student Scott Rohrer suggested the name of "Lux Sit," ("Let there be light" in Latin) as it is on the University of Washington seal. The local joke at a campus dance was to say to your date, "Lux sit and dance" (let’s sit and dance).

As Don Paulson writes in his unpublished personal history:

“Lux Sit probably did more to acquaint the public at large than any other lightshow group, especially the so-called Establishment …. Lux Sit never considered themselves hippies although they agreed with the good that eventually came from the movement. Lux Sit members were already in the professions.

Don Paulson was an artist with paintings in the collections of the Seattle and Anchorage Art Museums, City of Seattle, and other corporate and private collections. Scott Rohrer and Rick Lotz restored old wooden boats and sailed sailboats in races for wealthy clients. Russell Burton was an interior designer and assisted in decorating the Governor's Mansion. Kathy Baird was a hair stylist at the House of Edward. Sharon Bealls was a professional model for Jay Jacobs. Saulius Pempe was a professional photographer and Richard Frahm was an engineer for Lockheed Aircraft.

Due to our combined contacts with the Establishment we fell right into their needs for a piece of the counter culture.”

Don Paulson and Andy Warhol’s Factory (1966)

Don Paulson was born in Seattle. He became a Pop Art painter and moved to New York City in 1966. He was befriended by Ivan Karp (who discovered Andy Warhol and was the Director of the Leo Castelli Gallery). Karp encouraged Paulson to continue painting, and introduced him to Warhol at a Thanksgiving dinner.

Paulson writes:

"The Factory was outrageous, far from the mellow hippie lightshow concerts beginning to happen on the west coast. This hard edge, eastern approach to art was the reason San Francisco hated the Velvets and Andy Warhol.

Some felt however that the hard edge east coast best reflected the social/political climate of the day and that the San Francisco hip scene was on some kind of fantasy trip and more geared to Folk than Rock …”
“I hung out at Andy Warhol’s Factory and attended Warhol’s and the Velvet Underground’s first public gig together at the Cinematheque (February 8, 1966), New York’s underground movie theater a la Jack Smith, Jonas Mekas, Brakhage, etc., and Warhol’s new career as filmmaker. This event was a prelude to the “Exploding Plastic Inevitable” at the Dome …

The multi-media experience was just beginning to be identified along with the ‘Environments’ of Claus Oldenburg and Allan Kaprow’s ‘Happenings’ etc.”

“It was an event that caught everyone’s attention so everyone was there — 300 or more people crowded into the small basement theater, Gerard Melanga, Yoko Ono, Eddie Sedgwick, Billy Name, Eric Emerson, Henry Geldzahler, Mario Montez, Ondine, Taylor Mead, Nico, etc …. Andy was surrounded by people. He was quiet but with a pleased, fascinated look. ‘Isn’t this great’ he said. Warhol wrote, ‘we all knew something revolutionary was happening. We just felt it. Things couldn’t look this strange without some barrier being broken.’ ”

Birth of Lux Sit and Dance Lightshow (1966-1968)

Paulson returned to Seattle in March 1966 where he met people interested in light effects. He writes “Artist Steve Lerrold introduced me to Living Room Light Shows that he and his friends were doing with projectors, liquids, prisms and fog machines …. Members of the Union Light Co. and others such as Tim Harvey, Chuck Trimble and Jeff Collum were also experimenting with light and theater …. The counterculture were beginning to network in the coffeehouses and on campus. The Rock scene was gearing up and KRAB Radio was the ‘voice of the hip people.’ ”

On January 14, 1967, Friends of the Free University (University of Washington students and teachers) put together a lightshow dance at the Eagles Auditorium.

They invited both the Union Light Co. and Lux Sit and Dance to perform. Paulson describes the dance:

“About a dozen people were in the balcony doing light effects on the band and side walls, but I thought the lights were a little dull, it needed some spark. I’m not sure what I did exactly, but I projected a lot of white light with my hand over the lens and releasing it back and forth to the beat of the music. The other lights were too laid back, the show needed some energy — more New York.

I felt my white light did this but members of the Union Light Co. were very upset that I would dare project white light! I believe from that point on they had an issue with me and did not approve of my contribution (and hence did not want me to be a part of the show or their group.) I stopped the white light but decided then that I would just have to start my own lightshow company.”


Sources:


Walt Crowley, Rites of Passage: A Memoir of the Sixties in Seattle (Seattle: University of Washington Press,1995); undated newsclippings from The Helix, and from unknown New York City publications, in Carol Burns's archive, Seattle, Washington; Don Paulson, "Sit, Lux, and Dance Lightshow," unpublished manuscript; Tom Robbins article about lightshows, Seattle magazine, 1967, newsclipping in Don Paulson’s archive; Robin Oppenheimer interviews with Carol Burns, Paul Dorpat, Ron McComb, and Don Paulson, Seattle, Washington, 2003; E.A.T. Reunion Website.
 
 

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Lux Sit And Dance Lightshow
 
 
Lux Sit And Dance Lightshow
 
 
Lux Sit And Dance Lightshow