Anatomy of an Honorarium Grant Project

about this photoAfter collecting the wood and storing it at a friend’s farm on Vashon Island, I spent the rest of the summer before the Event assembling the lanterns. On August 22, my assistant and I arrived in the desert. We had originally planned to construct the Hanged One as a portal along the trash fence but when asking a ranger at the event soon found out that the perimeter is used as a fire lane inside the event, and we located about 500 feet inside the event.

I really like this location on the tip end of the event, and I hope that in the coming years I may be able to work with Carl and DPW to create a special venue at true north and the event perimeter for successive gateway-to-the-desert pieces. Carl told me that he is responsible for laying the fence, and he seemed receptive to the idea of working with the highway fence and perhaps a slightly different material to create a circle or semi-circle enclosure at 12:00 and perimeter.

about this photoAlso this year, while working on this piece and attending to it throughout the event, we noticed many art cars barely met the requirements and traveled often into the fence at speeds of 30-60 mph. This might be one concern of siting a piece this far out. As far as collecting trash is concerned, I could easily budget for a section of highway fencing around the inside of the piece that would contribute to the visual integrity of the piece and at the same time collect blown debris.

about this photoThis year I planned to burn the piece and constructed a burn platform out of concrete tiles and steel siding. David Best of the Mausoleum helped me by contributing the four outer pieces. I was fortunate that the tree burned and collapsed directly onto the platform. The platform was covered with granite and basaltic rocks which further insulated the playa from severe heat. We did find that dryness of the playa contributed to the crumbling Of the surface and a thick layer of sand. Also that granite stones under high heat tend to crumble into sand.

I started construction of the tree by attaching smaller branch pieces to larger trunk pieces. I used about 150 feet of connector strip and 10 penny nails for this job.

My assistant Hong Anh began working on the reference sculpture installed in the Maze. Behind her are some of the main tree pieces yet to be raised.

Once the main tree pieces were assembled, she began to finish construction of the lantern frames while I sought out assistants to raise the tree. From 10am until 3pm we spent most of our time working in the patch of shade offered by our truck.

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about this photoThe team of guys working on the Dice were especially helpful on Sunday August 27. It took eight of us working with hammers and lifting each of the six segments to put together the main structure pictured here. Once that was complete I headed back into Reno for more connector strip (the other 75 feet) to anchor all pieces together at the middle and prevent the structure from falling on people in a heavy windstorm. Once completed I found it sturdy enough that I was able to crawl over most of the tree and begin adding more branch pieces to fill out the canopy.

We started hanging the lanterns Monday. I used logs to create benches at the base of the tree and scrapped an earlier idea to build a separate rock garden instead making the tree itself the centerpiece of the garden and positioning a rake and small island of rocks (underneath which the battery was stored) to the outside.

about this photoUpon hanging the lanterns the tree began attracting people at once. The orange and yellow picked up light very nicely at a distance and some people walked to the perimeter almost a mile just to see what was so far out here.