The lighted free-form sculpture on Temple Avenue in Highland Park may, at first glance, seem like a ghost of Christmas just past, but this is no ordinary holiday decoration or orna- mentation.
It was created to send a message of inspiration and creativity to last into the New Year, or at least, “until the lawn needs mowing,” cracks sculptor David Thomas, who tends to leave his creations up until the spring.
Gracing Thomas’ front yard, the sculpture— titled 2-D Lite—is fashioned out of conduit pipe shaped by hand and secured with rope and duct tape.
“It’s rather primitive,” Thomas says. “I like a gestural approach—free form and flowing; from thought to hand and pencil to, boom, sculpture. I made the initial sketches in under a minute. They were very spontaneous, and I tried to translate that into the sculpture.”
The piece is festooned with an estimated 2,000 red, green and white holidays lights.
“I don’t overly plan how to put the lights on,” he says. “I wanted it to look spontaneous with an energy, freshness and uniqueness to it. It’s like painting in space with light.”
Thomas, president of Perimeter Builders, an architectural design-build company, has lived in Highland Park since 1989. This is the third year he has erected a sculpture on his property during the winter holidays.
It has become something of a thing.
Bonnie Shay and Frank Shapiro, who live across the street, have come to consider it a holiday season tradition.
“It’s festive. It’s creative,”Shay says. “It’s beautiful that someone, out of his creativity, decides to do this every year in the cold. We never know what he’s going to do, but we have big expectations.”
The fine arts loom large in the Thomas family and household. His wife, Carrie, a Highland Park native, is a composer. Her father, also a composer, is still writing and recording music at the age of 95, she says. Her sister’s artwork graces the walls of the Thomas house. Thomas’ mother is a painter in Lincoln, Nebraska, with works in the University of Nebraska’s permanent collection. His grandfather was also an artist.
Thomas’ sculptures were created to be up for a time and then dismantled. Thomas likes the impermanence.
“This is the most whimsical sculpture I’ve done,” he says, adding it reflects a positive and uplifting message.
“It’s up for anybody’s interpretation,”Thomas continues, “but I hope anybody who looks at it enjoys it.”
The scullpture’s playful, childlike quality resonated with two onlookers recently. A mother and her two young children, each under the age of 8, passed by the sculpture, Thomas recalls. The mother complimented him on his work.
Her youngest then paused and asked, “What is it?”
The other responded, “It’s abstract.”