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Chicago is Everywhere

Judy ChicagoJudy ChicagoOrginial Posting --

We arrived at Judy Chicago's hotel room expecting to be greeted by a handler or assistant, but were surprised to find that the soon-to-be 75 year-old artist answered the door herself. She was wearing a sweatshirt from Pyro Spectaculars, the fireworks engineers working with her on her upcoming large-scale performance piece in Prospect Park, A Butterfly for Brooklyn. The sweatshirt was the same sort of baggy, pastel memento worn by women of her age to commemorate a trip to Las Vegas or Fort Lauderdale—but instead, this one had a small embroidery of fireworks over the heart.

 A Butterfly for Brooklyn is the capstone event of what Chicago refers to as her year-long "national retrospective." This year, she has shows at the Mana Contemporary, Harvard's Schlesinger Library, the Palmer Museum in Pennsylvania, the Oakland Museum of California, and several others around the country. "Chicago in L.A.," which just opened at the Brooklyn Museum, is one of the larger and more exciting ones, as it sheds light on Chicago's first 10 years of artistic practice in Los Angeles in the 1960s. It was a time and place where women in art were not taken seriously, and, as Chicago explained, a body of work that her magnum opus The Dinner Party overshadowed.

Photo by Donald WoodmanPhoto by Donald WoodmanTo celebrate her seventy-fifth birthday, artist Judy Chicago will create A Butterfly for Brooklyn, a monumental pyrotechnic performance piece drawing inspiration from her earliest explorations of feminist imagery, in Brooklyn's Prospect Park on Saturday, April 26, at 7:30 p.m. The site-specific work, measuring approximately 200 feet wide by 180 feet high, will appear to levitate, swirl, and move. Presented by the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum in partnership with the Prospect Park Alliance, the project is an outdoor component of the exhibition Chicago in L. A.: Judy Chicago's Early Work, 1962-74, on view in the Sackler Center at the Museum from April 4 through September 28. A Butterfly for Brooklyn will transform the imagery Chicago used most famously in her iconic installation, The Dinner Party, into a twenty-minute fusion of color and dazzling visual effects on the Long Meadow of Prospect Park.
This program is organized by Catherine J. Morris, Sackler Family Curator, with Jess Wilcox, Programs Coordinator, Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art. Major support was provided by Barbara and Eric Dobkin. Additional support provided by Barbara Lee.

Recent pyrotechnic performances by Judy Chicago were presented in California as a part of the J. Paul Getty Museum's critically acclaimed 2011-12 curatorial initiative Pacific Standard Time. These recent fireworks pieces were inspired by an increasingly complex series of works called Atmospheres that Chicago created in various West Coast locales between 1968 and 1974. Working with a small team of friends, she transformed beaches, parks, forest, deserts, construction sites, and museums with whirling plumes of brilliant color. The series grew out of the artist's ongoing research into color relationships during this period-one of the themes inher latest exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum.

As a part of a 1974 Oakland Museum project, Sculpture in the City, Judy Chicago produced A Butterfly for Oakland on the shores of Lake Merritt. This was the last environmental work she would complete for more than three decades. She states, "From the time I was a young artist in Los Angeles, I had big ideas. In addition to a prodigious production of large-scale painting and sculpture in the 1960s and 70s, I experimented with a variety of temporal materials. Using a range of fireworks and colored smokes, I did a series of Atmospheres whose goal was to 'feminize' the California landscape at a time when the L.A. art scene was singularly inhospitable to women. Unfortunately, my ambitions at that time were thwarted by a lack of financial support that prevented me from expanding the concept and scale of this work."

Chicago in L.A.: Judy Chicago's Early Work, 1963-74, the first survey on the East Coast of the artist's early career, contextualizes Chicago's work within the broader production of minimalism and conceptualism at the time, and continues the reappraisal of the artist's importance as a pioneer in the California art scene. It brings together more than fifty-five objects, featuring Chicago's minimalist sculpture alongside her Female Rejection Series, her large-scale paintings, and documentation of her environments and performances.

The Dinner Party, on permanent view at the Brooklyn Museum, was a gift to the Museum from the Elizabeth A. Sackler Foundation in 2003 and installed in the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art when it first opened in March 2007. The installation honors the achievements of women over the millennia by featuring craft forms that until recently were not considered part of the fine arts. Each of the thirty-nine table settings, resting on elaborately embroidered runners, is unique to the woman whose life it honors and includes a hand-painted china plate, ceramic flatware and chalice, and a napkin with an embroidered gold edge.

Fuse News: Spring Edition

Pyro Spectaculars at the Super BowlPyro Spectaculars at the Super Bowl

Pyro Spectaculars by Souza crew battles bitter Weather to Kick off Super Bowl XLVIII

In the true Pyro spirit that dictates “the show must go on”, a crew of 22 pyrotechnicians pulled off one of the most challenging of all fireworks displays.  This past January 27, Pyro Spectaculars partnered with Macy*s and the NY/NJ Super Bowl Host committee to produce a Kick-off fireworks display in the New York Harbor.  Two barges, 20, 000 aerial bursts and 20 cases of hand warmers later, Pyro rocked the skyline of New York and New Jersey, and entertained concert goers and a live National Television Audience, to Kick-off Fox Sports 1 cable station and welcome Super Bowl visitors to the New York/New Jersey area.  The concert was held at Liberty State Park featuring musical performances by Daughtry, The Fray, and The Goo Goo Dolls, who also endured the sub-freezing, wind chilled weather.  Hosted by Erin Andrews and Joe Buck, with Gov. Chris Christy and NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio and team owners from the New York Giant’s and Jet’s, their countdown led to an anxious and freezing group of Pyrotechnicians launching the spectacular show staged in front of the nearly completed Freedom Tower and over the watchful eyes of the Statue of Liberty.

For seven days, pyrotechnicians battled the arctic chill working in temperatures that reached a two hour high of 29 degrees but mainly hovered in the low teens, with wind chills below zero.  Igniter wires were cracking, sandbags were ice blocks, and use of your hands was limited to 15 minutes.  Wrapped, hooded and faces under “balaclavas”, the crew managed to assemble all systems to launch on cue with only 12 shells failing to ignite.  Congratulations to this crew of dedicated technicians who helped put on a true Pyro Spectacular!

July 4th Spectacular! July 4th Spectacular!

From the desk of Jim Souza: 

July 4, 2014 Independence Day Celebration! 200 years ago, 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet, Francis Scott Key, wrote what was to become our National Anthem after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by British ships of the Royal Navy in Chesapeake Bay during the War of 1812. In salute to the Star Spangled Banner’s Bicentennial, Pyro Spectaculars by Souza is featuring a theme and tribute to “The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave!

Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.
- Walt Disney

The single most important thing to remember about any enterprise is that there are no results inside its walls. The result of a business is a satisfied customer.
- Peter Drucker

This has been an historic year for Pyro Spectaculars by Souza. We have faced many of our greatest challenges, and have enjoyed some of our greatest victories! I have been pleased to see the strong endorsement of our stability and commitment ot quality, reliability, training, creativity, and safety as evidenced by many of our “returning customers.”

As we enter “the Season,” please join me in doing everything to keep safety first, listening to our customers, and in keeping the benchmark for pyrotechnic excellence ever rising.  We are Pyro Spectauclars by Souza. Let’s have a great Fourth!

-Jim Souza

Upcoming operator trainings:

Northern California:

Date -- Saturday, March 29, 2014
Time -- Registration starts at 9:00 AM
Location -- Destiny Christian Church
Hazmat and other Training/Information • Lunch & Raffle • Industry Incident Review • Break-out Sessions • Best Truck and Years of Service Awards

Click here to RSVP online. Alternatively, Please call Adita at (916) 640-0173

Southern California:

Date -- Saturday, April 26, 2014
Time -- PYRO 101 Training starts at 8:00, Seminar Registration at 12:00
Location -- Cerritos Park
Hazmat and other Training/Information • Industry Incident Review • Best Truck and Years of Service Awards • Grand Display, including tribute to Bob Souza after Dinner

Online registration coming soon. Alternative, call Margo at (909) 355-8120

From the BunkerFrom the Bunker

From the bunker (for pyro pros only!):

Renewals! Renewals for CA Pyro license have been sent out. If you did not receive yours, contact the State office or Pyro so we can assist with them getting the renewal done in time. (A word to the wise: contact MARGO — she answers her phone and will follow through!

Your Equipment! (and TRAINING) If you need additional equipment, props, or whatever goodies for your show, please submit your request through Margo ASAP. We have an internal operations procedure that keeps information flowing smoothly. Contacting Robert Bronner or any other channel may result in your request accidently being missed. If you would like specific training or information about different firing systems before the South seminar, (and definitely before your 4th show or shows) contact Robert in a timely manner so you get the training you need!

Show highlights and upcoming events:

Butterfly for BrooklynButterfly for Brooklyn

Butterfly for Brooklyn

Butterfly for Brooklyn Fresh from the historic success of “Butterfly for Pomona” with world-renowned artist Judy Chicago, Pyro is once again leading the field of artistic pyrotechnics for the creation of “Butterfly for Brooklyn” on April 26, 2014.

Lights Over SacramentoPhoto by Ben North ( by Ben North (

 Sacramento’s best New Year’s Eve tradition lights up the skies above Old Sacramento with bright colors and flashes during the New Year’s Eve Sky Spectacular. This free celebration is open to all residents and features activities for the whole family to enjoy. Including children’s programming, live music, dinner specials, hot food and drink vendors and a variety of colorful street entertainment. Click here to see photo and video highlights from the show.

In Memory of Bob Souza (1930 - 2013)

Bob Souza (1930 - 2013)Bob Souza (1930 - 2013)

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