The IlluminArts Walk – December 5

EL-wire people, 2010 (photo by Neil Girling)
EL-wire people, 2010 (photo by Neil Girling)

Hey! If you’re in the Bay Area, come participate in The IlluminArts Walk! (Or if you’re not, perhaps organize your own illuminated walk, and send us your pictures to attach to this blog post!) The IlluminArts walk is in conjunction with San Francisco Travel’s “Illuminate SF”.

When: December 5, 2013, 5:30pm – 8:30pm
Where: North Beach to Embarcadero/Pier 15 Exploratorium via Filbert Steps
What: The IlluminArts Walk: an evening of participatory pageantry!
Why: Let’s shine a light on art and participation in our community.
Who: Black Rock Arts Foundation and Illuminate The Arts in harmony with the Exploratorium and San Francisco Travel

As early winter dusk descends upon our City on December 5th, Black Rock Arts Foundation (BRAF) and Illuminate the Arts invites residents and visitors of San Francisco to don lighted gear and illuminated wearable art, and engage in an evening of participatory pageantry. The IlluminArts Walk is a strolling light installation at the human scale – where participants become art by illuminating their most fun evening finery and walk from North Beach to the Embarcadero. The route explores three works of illuminated art, traverses two neighborhoods, and brings new energy to our sidewalks and Telegraph Hill, all while enjoying gorgeous vistas of The Bay Lights. This event has been created in support of San Francisco Travel’s inaugural “Illuminate SF”, a new seasonal program which offers the entire city of San Francisco as a gallery of light-filled art, illuminating the dark winter evenings. (more…)

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

Mobule Needs You

In the spirit of the revolutionary interactive art of [BM] and [BRAF], we invite YOU to come out to celebrate and pARTicipate in the Mobule experience! Get involved with this great Black Rock Arts Foundation grantee project and help make it happen! It will be in New York, Black Rock City, San Francisco and Los Angeles, SOON. You know you want to, so make it happen!

Mobule is a kinetic, multi-media, mobile, interactive street art performance that connects people from different cities. Check out theses videos about Mobule on the project’s website:

The artist, Ludale, needs 3 partners for each performance. It’s really easy to help! All you do is:

– Invite people to participate in an interactive game (invite them to try on the ‘space helmet’ and control the Mobule. Who doesn’t want to wear a space helmet?!?)
– Interview people
– Help video the interviews
– Help pack up the Mobule after the show

Don’t one of those roles sound just like something you could do?

Here are the dates the Mobule needs help. All performances are 9:00 pm – 11:00 pm:

Monday, August 15th
Tuesday August 16th
Brooklyn Bridge park – New York.

Friday, August 19th
Pier 14, Near the Raygun Gothic Rocketship, by the Ferry building – San Francisco.

Saturday 20th, August 20th
Mission Delores Park – San Francisco.

August, 29th – September 4th
Center Camp – Black Rock City.

Friday, September 9th and Saturday 10th
Santa Monica Pier – Los Angeles.

Artist Ludale and the Mobule also need places to stay during their travels, and need a ride to and from Burning Man any day between 8/23 and 8/28!

Can you help? Email if you can!

ArtPadSF: A Private Preview and Benefit for the Black Rock Arts Foundation

Private Preview: A Benefit for the The Black Rock Arts Foundation

May 18, 2011
7:00 pm – Midnight
The Phoenix Hotel
601 Eddy St., San Francisco


Celebrate the extraordinary contemporary artists and galleries that enrich the Bay Area and beyond, and enjoy an exclusive evening of performances, live music, the Premiere Lounge, and much more at this opening night party for ArtPadSF!

Join the producers, galleries, and artists of the first annual ArtPadSF at the legendary Phoenix Hotel for an exclusive evening of emerging contemporary art, commissioned performances, and liberal libations.

Proceeds from ArtPadSF’s Opening Night celebration will benefit The [braf]’s public art and grant programs, focused on inspiring art, community and civic participation worldwide.

ArtPadSF Ticket Packages:

Premiere Lounge and Poolside Soiree
$125 online presale; $150 at the door
7:00 pm – Midnight

Includes an evening of featured and roaming performances, DJs, heavy passed hors d’oeuvres, and hosted bar and exclusive access to the lounge from 7:00 – 9:00 pm. Also includes passes to the weekend’s other ArtPad events!

Poolside Soiree Only
$50 online presale; $75 at the door
7:00 pm – Midnight

Includes an evening of featured and roaming performances, DJs, light passed hors d’oeuvres, and one complimentary cocktail beverage.


Don’t miss this hip, homegrown alternative to the mainstream art scene. Get the first look at Chambers Restaurant and Lounge, San Francisco’s newest dining and entertainment destination. Be the first to experience ArtPadSF and to interact with participating artists and galleries from around the nation in this intimate setting.

Bay Area artists set the stage for this exciting new event with site specific and multimedia performances, interactive art, live music and DJs with original scores and mixes created especially for the occasion.

Featuring Performances by:

* Infectious dance beats by DJ Jive (Heart Deco) and Smoove
* Wearable art and performances by Bad Unkl SistaMiranda Caroligne, and Daphne Ruff
* Site specific dance performance by Capacitor
* A rather unconventional operatic performance by soprano Diva Marisa Lenhardt
* A processional performance by Loyd Family Players, mixing street theater, samba, hip-hop, funk, heavy metal, dancehall & reggae.
* Debut work by local composer and musician, EO
* San Francisco’s live electric cello + vocal looping mavericks, LOOP!STATION (

ArtPadSF is a provocative, new, 21st century boutique art fair that focuses on emerging and contemporary art from the Bay Area and beyond. ArtPad SF invites San Francisco’s world-renowned museums, galleries, arts institutions, and artists to transform the newly renovated Phoenix Hotel into an alternative venue for art.

Market Street Blooms Opening Reception

The Black Rock Arts Foundation has been working on many new partnerships and projects and we want you to help us celebrate them!  After all, it’s our community that makes it all possible.

The Black Rock Arts Foundation is honored to be part of the effort to revitalize the Central Market area in San Francisco in collaboration with the San Francisco Arts Commission, and we love sharing and supporting  Karen Cusolito’s sculptures.

photo: Mark Hammon

Central Market will come alive for the Art in Storefronts launch celebration!  The festivities include receptions at three neighborhood galleries, the debut of two temporary public art sculptures by Karen Cusolito, live music lining Central Market, and Off the Grid food trucks. The community celebration will kick off with the unveiling of six storefront installations and five murals designed by San Francisco artists.

Join the Black Rock Arts Foundation and the San Francisco Arts Commission for this FREE Market Street Blooms Opening Recption.

Music, speeches and mural unveiling:

May 13,  5:00 pm
998 Market St. San Francisco


Public Art in a Fluid Space

[Leslie Pritchett was the first Executive Director of the Black Rock Arts Foundation. She now runs Leslie Pritchett Public Art Consulting, is a board member at The Crucible, and spearheads the Tiny House Project. This post is part of the Metropol Blog Series.]

If you think about it, Burning Man itself is a temporary work of public art designed by and for its participants. The ways in which Burning Man invites, inspires and fosters organic generation of participatory artwork is fascinating on many levels, and warrants comparison with how temporary public art projects come to life in other places … most specifically, San Francisco.

Parking Meter, 2002
Parking Meter, 2002

Public art at Burning Man follows a pattern commonly referred to as “self similarity”, which is to say it exhibits similar properties when viewed from both macro and micro perspectives. At a larger scale, the annual creation of the cityscape has a shape as a collective creative effort. As we take a closer look, zooming in through the layers of massive collaborative art endeavors until we arrive at a tiny, ephemeral work generated by someone on a whim on Tuesday afternoon, we see that each of these works requires a complex social consensus to bring it to fruition.

That consensus is that it is wholly worthwhile to serve and be served by our collective creative spirits. No one is trying to meet the unique needs of individual participants. No one is trying to create a piece that will change the shape of the public space it occupies for generations. No one is trying to create a permanent mark on the landscape. No one is trying to please everyone. Therefore, everyone accepts what they encounter as an ephemeral gift to be enjoyed, shared, digested or simply ignored. This particular kind of freedom for both artists and participants creates a wellspring of shared enthusiasm that has its own internal logic, and creates beautiful patterns.

Michael Christian's "Flock" at San Francisco City Hall (Photo by Scott Beale, Laughing Squid)
Michael Christian’s “Flock” at San Francisco City Hall (Photo by Scott Beale)

By contrast, in order for a work of art to be exhibited in San Francisco, even temporarily, it must be deemed to meet the needs of many different constituent groups. Public art projects are subject to public review and parochial opinion. At least one commission will have to like it. It will be weighed, measured, evaluated and questioned. It will have to squeeze through a narrow opening. An impressive amount of paperwork will have to be generated and signed, including provisions that say, for instance, “‘Sex’ shall mean the character of being male or female” and “liquidated damages of up to $5,000 can be assessed for each entry-level job improperly withheld from the (public art project) hiring process” and that the public art project agrees to abide by the “MacBride Principles” pertaining to the hopeful resolution of employment inequities in Northern Ireland.

Bryan Tedrick's "Portal of Evolution", 2009
Bryan Tedrick’s “Portal of Evolution”, 2009

The freedom afforded at Burning Man to express oneself openly, fully and completely, illustrates the collective creativity possible when the social contract is rewritten to be broad, expansive and inclusive. And yet, it is an interesting exercise to see if we can transplant some of the fractal creativity that is Burning Man art onto other urban landscapes. If only a few shoots take hold, it will be interesting to see what grows.

Resolution at the Exploratorium After Dark

Exploratorium After Dark
Exploratorium After Dark

Tomorrow the Exploratorium in San Francisco will be hosting their first Thursday of every month series called The Exploratorium After Dark. This month’s theme is “Resolution” as in New Year’s Resolutions, however this resolution will follow along a more scientific definition, that being the “ability of our sensory ability to resolve two (or more) things as distinct from one another.”

There are over seventeen Art and science installations demonstrating a myriad of optical and tactile phenomena, including Mark Lottor’s Cubatron that graced Black Rock City this past year. If you’ve seen the Cubatron from across the playa and attempted to place it somewhere within your field of vision as you moved towards it, you understand how this optical resolution thing can work.

Melissa Alexander who organizes “After Dark” regularly participates in Burning Man and told me that the Exploratorium has a history of showing works by local artists of all kinds and there are quite a few pieces they’ve shown that were first seen on playa. The artists’ work from Burning Man tends to resonate with the kinds of work the Exploratorium has supported historically. There are some interesting parallels between the Exploratorium and Burning Man. At one time the Exploratorium was one of the few places in San Francisco that supported the kinds of artists who tend to work interactively and with technology, and the people interested in the Art and exhibits featured there are typically participants who are from a diverse cross section of the population.

The event is tomorrow so get there early to get in. The exhibits typically run from 6:30 to 9:30 and this is a one day event. The Exploratorium is at the Palace of Fine Arts, 3601 Lyon Street San Francisco.

Thursday, January 7, 2010
6:00–10:00 p.m.
Bar opens at 6:00 p.m.

Sharpen your senses at Exploratorium After Dark.

From sharpness to saltiness, distinguishable differences are the basis of perception. Discover the role resolution plays in how we see, hear, taste, and feel, and how our minds synthesize sensations into an understanding of the world.

Play with perception through special exhibits, build a pinhole camera, or behold your tiny surroundings in the Tiltshift-o-scope. Experiment with illusions, monkey with magnification, and size up your taste buds with a supertaster test. Explore the exquisite optics of Yumito Awano’s drinking straw sculptures and see days slip by in Ken Murphy’s A History of the Sky. Throughout the evening, thousands of LEDs will light up Mark Lottor’s Cubatron with spectacularly dynamic patterns.

for more information go to

Hope to see you there!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Merry Christmas and a hearty HO HO HO to you.

Just a weekend or so ago I was privy to seeing Santas in places I’d never seen them before as SantaCon met in packs about our fair town to drink strong concoctions from bottles of Pine Sol, whiskey dripping from their long white beards and down the front of their red frocks. I commingled with that strange red and white furry frill coat brigade who revel in the weird and are hell bent on spreading holiday spirit to every passerby.

There is nothing like hundreds of Santas walking along the sidewalks to get the car horns honking.

Santas on the March
Santas on the March

From all over the City Santas arrived at their undisclosed location by word of mouth, Tweets and Laughing Squid, Mr. Beale’s most excellent online resource. My peculiar jolly contingent met at Civic Center in the vomiting frozen mist amongst those sterile leafless trees. That day, Santa was jolly and sultry, swarthy, sexy and otherwise altered or soon to be, as we milled about all wet and festive, waiting for critical mass and once attained, our pod began moving against the falling rain with Santas dancing to “Thriller” and Santas of a huge multitude of candy cane stripes and sizes, several green Elves, the occasional random reindeer with jingle bells on her antlers and otherwise oddly Holiday adorned Santas to make our way up into Polk Gulch where the real party started.

When you have that many Santas in one place, you are a force to be reckoned with.

“Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer and Vixen,
On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Donder and Blitzen”

Bars filled up with the red and white at 1:00 in the afternoon, much to the delight of bartenders. Santas chanted and waved at the befuddled folks in cars who honked their horns as they passed. We offered cigarettes and drinks to homeless Santas.

Polk Street Bar full of Santas
Polk Street Bar full of Santas

Santas prowling and howling, lustily guffawing in grand Santa packs around San Francisco on this most festive of holidays and it was a jolly old scene.