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Saturday, July 30, 2011 - Page updated at 07:00 p.m.

Outdoor art and 'Sunset and Music' come to Carkeek Park

By Michael Upchurch
Seattle Times arts writer

It isn't just Seattle's Olympic Sculpture Park that's offering outdoor-arts activities this summer.

Carkeek Park, to the north, is hosting "Heaven and Earth III: Cycles of Return," the third installment in the Center on Contemporary Art's annual outdoor-sculpture exhibit. And on Saturday, the park will be the site of Seattle composer Nat Evans' "Sunset and Music."

Evans' piece — which blends ambient sound (bird song, waves, air traffic) with dreamy droning melodies for trombone, strings, percussion and electronics — is a sequel to last year's "Sunrise, September 18, 2010."

"Sunrise" involved participants getting themselves to Magnuson Park's Kite Hill by 6:30 a.m., but "Sunset" promises to be more user-friendly for music fans who aren't early risers.

Here's how it works:

1. Go to www.natevansmusic.com, download his 24-minute composition "Assemblage" and load it onto your iPod.

2. Hit the beach at Carkeek Park with iPod in hand no later than 8:30 p.m.

3. Click your iPod on at exactly 8:37 p.m. (Evans will be there to give the cue) and let "Assemblage" wash over you as the sun goes down over Puget Sound and the Olympics.

Evans has composed music for film, video and fashion shows, as well as a variety of chamber and choral ensembles. So what inspired him to take his music into the great outdoors?

"A combination of things," he said in a recent email exchange. He had "a longstanding desire" to have his music available in nontraditional venues. He'd also been taking in a lot of Indian classical music, "which is written to accompany all sorts of different specific times of day and even seasons."

This, combined with a fascination with the changing qualities of light during his Zen meditation practices each week, he says, pushed him toward the sunrise/ sunset music idea.

Evans presented a "Sunset and Music" program last weekend in Washington, D.C., and has plans for presentations in Chicago, Indianapolis and New York in the coming weeks. Which raises the question: Are sunsets over water preferable, for musical purposes, to sunsets over land?

"Any space that can allow a spontaneous community to come together to take part in this event will do," he says, "provided it has a certain amount of openness. ... So while there is water in some places, it's not necessary for the event to be successful."

The key thing, he adds, is for the music to complement the changing of the light through careful pacing.

If you want to make a whole afternoon of it, check out the 16 art works arrayed along the woodland paths at Carkeek as part of "Heaven and Earth III." Some familiar names are back, including branch artist Julie Lindell and sculptor Miguel Edwards. Closer to the beach is "Organica/Mechanica," which blends nature and artifice in ways typical of many of the pieces in the exhibit. The sculpture, by a trio of artists who collectively go by the name Zucker, Turner, Jacobson, repurposes scavenged objects and is described as an "ongoing project" that will "melt, sprout, and grow" over the course of the summer. To download a guide to "Heaven and Earth," go to www.heavenandearthexhibition.org.

Michael Upchurch: mupchurch@seattletimes.com

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