The Bay Lights Project

The Bay Lights, artist rendering

Internationally renowned artist Leo Villareal has been attending Burning Man continuously since 1994 … in fact, he got his start creating LED and illuminated sculptures for the playa, and is a founder of Disorient. He’s gone on to have his light sculpture and installations presented at museums around the world, including the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Albright Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo. Today, Leo sits on the Burning Man Project Board of Directors and The Black Rock Arts Foundation Advisory Board.

We’re excited to tell you about Leo’s next (and most ambitious) project …

The Bay Bridge, which links San Francisco and Oakland, celebrates its 75th Diamond Anniversary in 2012. To commemorate this auspicious occasion, Leo will create an installation that will turn the bridge into a light sculpture of epic proportions: The Bay Lights Project.

The plan is for Leo and his team to secure arrays of 25,000 energy-efficient white LED lights to the vertical cables of the west span of the bridge, and create elaborate computer-controlled light animations to delight visitors and locals alike.

This amazing sculpture will be in place for two years, including during the America’s Cup yacht races, which are slated to draw an unprecedentedly large international audience to the Bay Area — and we fully support such a grand opportunity to show off San Francisco as a world-class city for the arts.

To learn more and see a video simulation of the project in action, visit To support the project, please visit

Leo Villareal’s Fine Art

Someone HAS to Be That Guy! (A trip to Bat Country)

Photo from MDCarchives; cropped by Beyond My Ken (talk) 05:04, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

After I wrote a blog post called “Is there too much positive energy at Burning Man?” several commenters invited me to come visit their camps and soak up their darkling ambiance.  One of them was Bat Country, a Hunter S. Thompson themed camp.

In fact I actually have visited Bat Country.  Here’s what happened. 

A few years back I was standing in the Will Call line for two hours.  A line like that, you get to know people, and I met a married couple.  The man’s name I can’t remember … it was something playa-generic … but the woman was named “Dirty Sugar.”  You don’t forget a name like that.

They were camping in Bat Country, and invited me over for outdoor movie night on Tuesday:  a double feature of the Johnny Depp version of “Fear and Loathing,” followed by “Gonzo,” a documentary about Thompson’s life and career, would be playing against the wall of an RV.

I said I’d be there.

The night was gorgeous.  I showed up about two thirds of the way through “Fear and Loathing.”  I asked around at the bar, but Dirty Sugar wasn’t there and I didn’t know anybody else.  Suddenly I saw an empty chair sitting just the right distance away from the structure the movie was playing on.

I pounced.  I sat down.  Took a swig of water.  Oh yeah:  this was a great seat.  I’d lucked out.

Ten minutes later, a guy walked out from the structure. He walked over to me.  “Hey,” he said, “would you like some tequila?” (more…)

Fundraising for Artists Workshop

Free Workshop: Fundraising for Artists
Tuesday, December 13th at 6 pm Pacific Standard Time
Burning Man Headquarters, 995 Market St. at 6th St. SF, 8th Floor Conference Room
Please RSVP to if you wish to attend.
Attendance is limited to 55 people in person, with an online option (see last paragraph)

We Wish

The Burning Man Special Events Team is supporting a number of free workshops — led by Burners for Burners — designed to share the skills and expertise of our community in a peer to peer manner. These workshops are intended to further the principles of gifting and radical self-reliance using tools that are readily available. This next workshop in our series is being led by Will Chase, who has extensive experience in social media and fundraising for art projects.

Workshop Description:

Want to create something awe inspiring — on playa or off — and wondering how to cover the costs? If so, this workshop on fundraising might be just for you! If you want to create a medium- or large-scale art project, you’re likely going to need money to realize your vision … and unless you’re independently wealthy, this will require fundraising of some kind. This workshop will cover fundraising strategies, tips and techniques to help maximize your effort whether you’re looking for help from your immediate community or a broader audience of donors. (Note: this workshop will NOT cover grants or grantwriting. It will instead focus more on on-line crowd-sourcing options and similar direct fundraising efforts.)


Join us to participate. Not local? No worries! This workshop will be accessible online – please indicate this when you RSVP so we can email you the invitation to the online meeting. Have a question you want to share? Feel free to email it to before the 13th so we can include it.

A little confidence

Photo by böhringer friedrich

Something about the bright lights of the Christmas season always pushes Burning Man right out of my head. In a bad way.

Something about the way America celebrates Christmas and Thanksgiving – as holidays in which we are told to be thankful for what we have and then commanded to but more stuff – has always contradicted Burning Man’s spirit of non-commodification. Even the act of “giving presents” for the Christman/Hannukah season, at least in my life, has nothing in common with the kind of “gifting” done at Burning Man.

Most years, it’s like the existence of one pushes the other right out of my head. My brain isn’t big enough for both of them.

Not this year, though.

This season Burning Man is very much on all of our minds, and we wonder what Santa and his little elves are turning it into. There’s a new non-profit organization, a new ticketing system, and an as-yet-undisclosed mystery theme. Where in years past it seemed safe to put Burning Man out of our minds for a little while, confident that it would still be there when we got back, this year many of us are refusing to let it out of our sights … constantly checking in to make sure nothing else has changed. (more…)

The Ephemeral Architecture of Burning Man

Long-time Burner Philippe Glade has completed his new book “Black Rock City, NV: The Ephemeral Architecture of Burning Man“. This photographic encyclopedia contains 196 examples of the various forms of rugged, functional and temporary desert architecture to be found at Burning Man.  Philippe has painstakingly documented these structures over the course of 14 years, from 1996 to 2010.  Even if you’re not (but especially if you are) into architecture porn, this book will make a great addition to your Burning Man library.

Visit his blog at This is Black Rock City.