Artist Craig Colorusso thinks of "Sun Boxes," his sound and light installation, as a collaboration with Mother Nature.
The only problem is, Mother Nature doesn't always cooperate.
The 20 solar-powered boxes, which are programmed to emit pre-recorded guitar chords when struck by the sun's rays, were rendered entirely silent by a thick gray cloud cover Monday afternoon at their Sarasota debut atop the Palm Avenue Parking Garage.
A group of about three dozen observers waited hopefully for over an hour, listening to the ambiant noise of the blustery wind, a plane passing overhead and a distant car horn as Colorusso, his hands jammed in his pockets, his hoodie pulled over a baseball cap topped with sunglasses, looked expectantly skyward.
"What are you going to do?" he shrugged, drawing a hand over two days worth of red beard growth. "I've learned to be very patient."
Though the sun never did break through, the audience was patient as well. Lisa Berger, executive director of Art Center Sarasota, which is partnering with the City of Sarasota to present the installation at various locations this week (and again in January), strolled back and forth among the viewers, holding up her IPhone, tuned to a Youtube recording of a previous "Sun Boxes" presentation, to give an idea of what was missing.
Meanwhile, five dancers from Fuzión Dance Artists — Melissa Coleman, Caitlin McMullen, Molly Nichols, Wendy Rucci and founder Leymis Bolaños-Wilmott — did their best to entertain the crowd with creative improvisations despite the lack of score.
Initially, they too seemed a bit thrown by the quietude. Their first "set" — in blue jeans and sloppy gray shirts — was disjointed and disconnected, as if they were grasping for a unified impetus.
But, after changing shirts and getting reassurance from Colorusso that the boxes were durable, they returned with a light-hearted dynamic that included walking and balancing atop the boxes as if they were stepping stones, and rearranging and stacking them, like children creating a playtime fort.
Hear the sound of a Sun Box
As Colorusso periodically put on and took off his sunglasses — perhaps hoping to spur his collaborator with the power of suggestion? — the dancers enjoyed a fanciful reversion to the juvenile. From the "fort" appeared a leg, an arm, and eventually a mischevious face; there was something that looked like good-natured rough housing and something else that looked like a game of hide-and-seek.
At one point all five draped over the triangular-shaped boxes like fading pre-teens in the waning hours of a slumber party. It looked like good fun and the bystanders seemed to think so too.
As for Colorusso, he appeared charmed by the dancers and unfazed by the silence. He recalled a similar instance when someone suggested he have a recording on hand for compensation — something he admitted would "kind of defeat the purpose" of his creation.
Instead he encouraged viewers to return for the "Sun Boxes" appearances scheduled for later this week, starting with a sunset showing at Lido Beach this afternoon at 4 p.m.
A "mostly sunny" day is predicted.
“Sun Boxes,” solar-powered musical installation by artist Craig Colorusso, with improvisations by Fuzión Dance Artists. Reviewed at the Palm Ave. Parking Garage rooftop Nov. 4. Additional viewings (no dancers) 4-6 p.m. today, Lido Beach, north end near 114 John Ringling Blvd.; and Nov. 6 at St. Armands Circle (9-11 a.m.), Marina Island Park near O’Leary’s (12:30-2:30 p.m.), and Siesta Beach, south of pavilion (4-6 p.m.). Free. www.artsarasota.org.