JR Bruce - Scenic Design & Scenic Art

International City Theatre. Long Beach, CA, 2013. Director: caryn desai

John Logan’s beautiful play, like Mark Rothko’s life, is a rich soil for design.  As a studio artist and former museum curator, I was enthralled by the research of Rothko’s studios, his art habits, and his art philosophies.  My goal with this design was to blend historically accurate details with concrete symbolism specific to our telling of this story. The hanging window units are based on the old YMCA building on Bowery St that Rothko painted in, and the rolling canvas walls are pulled straight from images of that studio.  However, I changed the proportions of the windows and added the large skylight unit to emphasize the  verticality and draw connection to sacred church spaces.  Inspired by Logan’s discussion of Appolo and Dionysus,  I contrasted the solemn, spiritual vertical elements (Apollonian) with the frenetic, horizontal energy of a Pollock-inspired floor (Dionysian).