Vail has brightened up its nightlife with The Windmill Project, a free, temporary, outdoor art installation that transforms wind energy into displays of light. Denver-based artist Patrick Marold drilled 3,000 eight-foot-tall poles topped with small rotors into 9,000 square feet of frozen hillside above the Vail Golf Course--and completed the project three days before its official March 23 launch.
When the wind blows, the rotors power tiny bulbs that illuminate the pole shafts. Gusts become visible shimmers of light dancing across the hillside--the stronger the wind, the brighter the glow.
Visitors can also walk directly into the installation and wander between the shafts of light on their own. "There are no fences or boundaries," says Leslie Fordham, coordinator of Art In Public Places, the civic group that funded the installation. "This is experiential art." The genesis of the project was Marold's 2001 stint in Iceland, where he was inspired by the country's long, dark, windy nights to develop a Windmill Project prototype. (You can see a video of it here: patrickmarold.com)
The Vail installation is only up for about five weeks and closes on Earth Day, April 22. It can be best seen by hiking five minutes along an illuminated track leading from the Vail Golf Course parking lot. "Hopefully people will feel compelled to come to Vail to see it," says Fordham.
The Windmill Project, artinvail.com; brochures with maps and more information are available at the Vail visitors center or online. Windmill Project-themed packages with Vail Village accommodations and a 25 percent discount at the Vail Golf Course restaurant start at $179. Request them by name by phone, 800/525-3875, or scout for available deals on vailonsale.com.