photo by Liz Hafalia, SF Chronicle
At least we know there’s one BMP Director who gets it. Leo Villareal has been a Burner since 1994, and is the founder of Disorient. If there is a “spectrum of camps” like BMOrg says, then Disorient is clearly on the good end of the spectrum. They provide a major sound stage with many DJs, as well as several areas of their camp that are open to all Burners. They bring multiple art cars, which give rides to the public; and they gift an Art Car Wash every year which every art car can participate in. Everyone who camps with Disorient is expected to volunteer some of their time at the burn in multiple shifts, to give back to the community. While they charge dues, it is in the hundreds of dollars, not tens of thousands, and no-one in the camp is trying to make a profit. Those who stay longer to break down and pack up get a discount on their dues, but even those hard workers still pay to be a part of a camp.
Leo is also an accomplished artist. He’s the first Burning Man artist to have an exhibition of his interactive works at a major art museum (the San Jose Museum of Art).
Villareal has permanent installations at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York, as well as in the private collections of contemporary art collectors CJ Follini. His work has also been on display at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., Madison Square Park in New York City, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, the PS 1 Contemporary Art Center in Long Island City, New York and at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Oh, and if you’ve been anywhere near San Francisco in the last couple of years, you’ve probably seen one other little piece he’s done: an $8 million commission he got to build the largest electronic sculpture in the world, The Bay Lights.
image: James Ewing/Illuminate The Arts
The Bay Lights were only ever intended to be temporary, and have already lasted longer than the original plan. They have become a beloved feature of the San Francsico skyline, and have had a measured boost on the city’s tourism and the trade of businesses along the Embarcadero waterfront.
Good news, Burners! The Bay Lights could be here to stay. Thanks to the generosity of a number of donors, if the project can raise another $293,000 before the end of the year, Caltrans has agreed to pick up the maintenance tab and keep the installation on the Bay Bridge – permanently.
Illuminate The Arts CEO Ben Davis says:
Dear Bay Lights Lovers,
There’s good news and even better news.
The Good News: If we raise four million dollars in gifts and pledges by the end of this year, we keep The Bay Lights forever.
This is a one-time raise of $4m, made possible by Illuminate The Arts’ break-through agreement with Bay Bridge officials. With that money, ITA will install a new set of LEDs – expressly engineered to withstand the harsh environment of the San Francisco Bay.
We would then gift these new lights to the Bay Area Toll Authority and Caltrans, in exchange for their on-going stewardship. The Bay Lights would become a permanent fixture of the Bay Bridge, just as the 50th Anniversary necklace lights did in 1989.
This means, Leo Villareal’s temporary masterpiece will become a permanent work of public art, establishing a global icon that lets the Bay Area shine around the world in perpetuity.
The Even Better News: Thanks to a $2 million challenge grant from Bay Area philanthropist Tad Taube, every new dollar raised will be matched until the $4 million goal is reached. Tad’s inspiring gift has already helped spur another $1.7m in private gifts. That means we have only $293,000 left to raise.
If you love The Bay Lights, now is the time act.
MAKE A TAX-FREE DONATION NOW
Here are some other recent media highlights:
- Featured in the San Francisco Chronicle yesterday, ‘”Bay Lights” get offer of permanence from bridge officials” Read Here
- San Jose Mercury News features “Bay Bridge light sculpture to shine on with big donation” Read Here
- San Francisco Chronicle Editorial, “Keep the Bay Bridge lights Shining” Read Here
Thank you for your continued brilliance,
Founder and CEO, Illuminate the Arts
Tad Taube is an 83-year old former USAF officer, who escaped the Nazis and became a real estate and tech magnate and major philanthropist. He is connected to the Koret sportswear empire that was sold to Levi Strauss, and runs charitable foundations worth more than $500 million that gave away $26 million in 2012. He’s challenged the community to match his gift to the Bay Lights, many other donors have stepped up, and we’re almost there.
Every little bit helps – a mere $4 from everyone who went to Burning Man this year, would be enough to keep the Bay Lights going forever.
Click here to donate.
Why doesn’t the Burning Man Project step up too, and provide a financial contribution to support the biggest and most famous piece of Burner Art being shared with the world forever? Seems like giving $10,000 to this would be more directly relevant to their mission of spreading Burner culture than $10,000 to the Exploratorium.
If Burners want to donate to help promote the art and culture of Burning Man worldwide, making this amazing installation permanent seems like incredible bang for our buck. It’s permanent, internationally renowned, and has already been enjoyed by more than 25 million people. The Bay Lights puts a permanent Burner stamp on the city’s skyline.
The documentary Impossible Light, about the dream that led to the Bay Lights’ Creation, makes a nice Christmas stocking stuffer for your Burner friends.
[Update 12/17/14 10:00pm]
The Bay Lights has met its funding goal, and will be staying permanently:
There will be permanent, artistic lights at the end of the tunnel — the westbound tunnel of the Bay Bridge leading into San Francisco, that is — come 2016.
After a two-month campaign, the nonprofit Illuminate the Arts announced Wednesday that it had raised the needed $4 million to reinstall the “Bay Lights” as a permanent fixture on the western end of the bridge.
Billed as the world’s largest light sculpture, the display of 25,000 LED lights turns the 1.8-mile San Francisco portion of the span into a nightly show of constantly changing abstract images.
It was first announced as a temporary two-year installation to be taken down in March 2015. Now, after some cable maintenance and repainting, it’s to be replaced with a sturdier set of lights that will begin glowing in time for Super Bowl 50, scheduled for February 2016 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.
“This is a great moment for public art and a great gift of the holiday season for the people of the Bay Area,” said Ben Davis, founder of Illuminate the Arts.