'Art on the Mart' debut draws thousands

CHICAGO (FOX 32) -- An incredible new art project launched Saturday night in Chicago, with an audience of thousands.

It looked like a giant invisible paint brush began tickling the massive south-facing wall of the Merchandise Mart, eventually exploding into a dizzying array of colors and shapes and patterns.

Thousands of people gathered across the river where Wacker drive was blocked off, to get a first glimpse of the eight-million-dollar public art project that may one day rival the Picasso and the Bean.

"We're known all over the world,” said Mayor Rahm Emmanuel.  Now we're gonna be known for the largest light show in the world. So in my view, two iconic Chicago strengths, our architecture and our public art. And now they'll be in one place with the largest digital show."

Five video artists provided the images for tonight's first show, which will continue to evolve over time.

It'll run for a couple hours after dusk each evening Wednesday through Sunday, from March to December.
and it takes a lot of light.

"We're using 34 projectors that cast over a million lumens on the facade of the Mart. And the Mart is two and a half acres. And to help conceptualize that, that's more than two football fields. So It's an incredible surface and it's going to be an immersive experience," said Cynthia Noble, Art on the Mart Executive Director.

Kristin and Emma Yeager drove in from Madison, Wisconsin for the debut.

"It's amazing. It's so huge and bright," said Kristin. 

"It's colorful, that's for sure," said Emma. 

Art on the Mart has a lease with the Merchandise Maart that runs for the next 30 years.