Last month, sweeping fields of illuminated color began to appear on a large swath of land in East Paso Robles.

“Field of Light at Sensorio,” an intersection of art, technology and nature by Bruce Munro, is now open to the public through January 5, 2020, at 4380 Highway 46 East. From Wednesday through Sunday, visitors can take part in a serene and immersive art experience unlike anything ever brought to San Luis Obispo County.

It was a window display of UV light glowing through plastic during a stroll in Sydney, Australia, 34 years ago that caught the eye of Bruce Munro. The British fine arts major walked into the shop, made some inquiries, and was soon knocking on retailers’ doors to sell his own illuminated set designs in between his regular jobs as a bricklayer and painter.

Decades later, Bruce’s work has been displayed in galleries, parks, estates, cathedrals, botanical gardens and museums across the United States and worldwide, including the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the Texas Tech University Public Art Collection, and in exhibits in Denmark, UAE, South Korea and Australia.

For Paso Robles developer Ken Hunter, it was at a 2,831-foot-high sandstone formation known as Uluru in the central Australian outback that he and his wife first experienced Munro’s “Field of Light” display.

“We are a couple who have had a dream of bringing an entertaining, natural garden-like attraction to Central California for many years. We have a plan to bring something completely unique to this particularly beautiful property, which we have named Sensorio,” Ken said.

“We were able to visit with Bruce at one of his exhibit openings in Denver and invited him to Paso Robles to see the land, where he was inspired to create a light installation in one of the valleys on the property.”

Creativity meets sustainability

“Sensorio will cover about 35 acres,” Ken said, referring to his future development project due for completion in 2021. Constructed in phases, the project will include a hotel, conference center, café, a botanical garden and more.

“The planned architecture is playful and full of movement. It will be a completely creative, flowing design,” Ken said. “We love nature and all it entails. My dad built the Hunter Ranch Golf Course and always loved the land across the street. After he passed in 2000, we were able to acquire that land in 2011, enabling our dream to continue.”

Twenty volunteers worked an average of eight hours per day over five weeks to assemble the tens of thousands of spheres and position them across the valley landscape. An Earth-friendly project, Sensorio uses energy supplied by solar panels that charge by day to power an awe-inspiring display from dusk to 11 p.m.

A total of 240 projectors operating at 25 watts apiece serve as light sources for several hundred fibers dispersed in shallow arrays laid atop the grounds. As light pulses through the fibers, it’s captured inside the glass spheres, creating what Bruce calls “whispers of light.”

“We love and admire Bruce’s design sensitivity to nature, peace, and calm, which you will feel when you experience his exhibit,” Ken added.

The meditative 15-acre art installation is the artist’s largest site-specific project to date.

An all-inclusive invitation

“Our target audience is local, regional, national and international — anyone who loves art, technology and nature,” said Tracy Strann, Executive Director of the Sensorio Project.

An all-inclusive art installation, “Field of Light at Sensorio” is wheelchair-accessible and welcoming to everyone.

“We have created a specially designated ADA pathway and a lookout for those requiring it,” said Tracy. “ADA restrooms are in all three restroom locations on the property, and golf carts are available for transport.”

The gates to Sensorio open an hour before the display begins.

“This is about connecting people to the landscape,” Bruce said. “The effect is different in every location. You become completely and utterly one with the world around you. It took me 39 years to figure it out. I didn’t realize what art could be. It’s not about me, but about them,” he added, referring to visitors who experience what he calls “art that you feel.”

“It’s impossible to live in isolation and art is not insular,” Bruce said. “We need to be much more grounded and more kind to one another. It’s a positive world if we look at it through a positive lens.”

Sensorio is open from 7 p.m. (or dusk) to 11 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday. Tickets for Sensorio range between $27 and $30 for adults and between $9 and $19 for children ages 12 and under. VIP Terrace tickets ($125) with a VIP Picnic Dinner are available for both adults and children. Kids age two and under get in free. Group discounts are available for 20 visitors or more.

Pets, outside food and beverages, bicycles, skateboards, cooking or barbecue equipment, weaponry, or professional photographic or recording equipment are not allowed on the property.

For complete information, visit sensoriopaso.com.

Email info@sensoriopaso.com or call (805) 226-4287.

Sensorio Mobile Kitchen to Provide Al Fresco Dining

General admission and VIP Terrace ticket holders have an opportunity to dine overlooking the Sensorio “Field of Light” art installation on Wednesdays through Sundays, beginning at 7 p.m.

“A rotating array of food and beverages, including local wines, will be offered so that guests can enjoy a complete experience,” said Tracy Strann, Executive Director for Sensorio. Guests can also enjoy live music every evening from 7 to 9 p.m.

Kelly Case-Horn, Hunter Ranch Grill’s food and beverage director since 2006, will manage the food service at Sensorio. A well-known chef in North SLO County for 20 years, Kelly has drawn many to enjoy her delicious entrees at Hunter Ranch Golf Course.

The VIP Terrace ticket admission at Sensorio will allow guests to choose in advance from a choice of entrees such as slow-roasted ribeye with horseradish cream sauce, mixed grill roasted veggie (vegan), herb-encrusted roasted chicken, and grilled salmon with lemon Dijon sauce.

Guests may also choose two side dishes from a list that includes: Roasted red skin potato salad, tomato and cucumber salad (vegan), mixed sweet greens salad with ranch and balsamic vinaigrette (on the side), orzo pasta salad with sun dried tomatoes and feta cheese, quinoa, jasmine rice and roasted veggies (vegan), roasted corn, cilantro and black bean salsa (vegan).

Also available is an option of one of the following appetizers:
Fresh Fruit Medley, Chick pea puree roasted garlic hummus with crackers, baguette with olive tapenade. Desserts include limoncello mascarpone cake, chocolate cake, crème brûlée cheesecake, carrot cake with caramel and cream cheese frosting, coconut rice pudding with farmers market fresh berries (vegan).

Learn more about Sensorio at sensoriopaso.com. For group visitor information, email groups@sensoriopaso.com or call (805) 226-4287.