Things ran very smoothly for the ARTery in 2008. There were close to 300 art installations on playa, down slightly from 2007. White outs, particularly on Monday and Saturday, challenged even the most experienced artists in setting up their installations, and some even had trouble locating their spot on the playa. Despite these challenges, most of the artists were installed by end of day Tuesday.

ARTery headquarters was moved to the Esplanade this year, between the 6:00 and 6:30 radial streets, tucked between the Man Museum and the Fire Conclave. It was a great new location, which allowed both the ARTerians and artists to look out at the art on the playa, and watch Black Rock City fill up with art. The location also made it much easier for artists to come and check in, as it offers ample space across from the ARTery base for vehicles to park without the fear of running over participants, as was the case in the old ARTery location.

The ARTery continued its efforts to cross-train volunteers. Many who were interested in learning more about Field Ops (placing artwork on the open playa) were encouraged to work with GPS units and mapping. The Greeters continued to grow their influence and benevolence, welcoming everyone who came into the ARTery with a big smile and some water, if needed, and pointing people in the right direction for what they were seeking.

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The art tours were once again incredibly popular. The tours left earlier than in previous years (11 am), and people swarmed the ARTery base to learn more, and participate in them. The large number of people that come into the ARTery for art tours impacts the daily operations of checking in and helping artists, and in 2009, we are looking at ways to mitigate that impact. Unfortunately, many mutant vehicles scheduled to drive for the tours were unable to participate due to mechanical breakdowns. And with the large number of participants vying for seats on a limited number of vehicles, the ARTery is going to look into securing large, reliable cars for the tours. A huge thanks goes out to those vehicles that did conduct tours, in particular the Purple Palace, the Nautilus, and Lepidodgera.

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The paper self-guided tours and audio tours were popular once again, the bicycle art tours were also back in 2008, bigger and better, with dozens of people participating in the five tours. These are so useful that the ARTery will investigate how to increase this effort without overtaxing the ARTery staff.

Artist Resource Meetings

2008 was the second year we held artist resource meetings, and they continue to improve. As part of the two meetings, held in advance of the event at Burning Man HQ in San Francisco, the honorarium artists learned about what to expect at the event, including the placement process, managing volunteers, implementing an effective leave no trace plan, etc. Many of the veteran artists shared insights and strategies that have helped them recruit (and retain) volunteers, deal with unexpected complications that occur on the trip to the playa, and more. We are looking to expand these meetings to include non-funded artists, so they too can benefit from the wealth of collective knowledge from both the organization and other artists.

Man Watch

2008 saw the birth of a couple new teams – the Man Watch and Eyes on Art.

The Man Watch was implemented with the goal of augmenting the efforts of the Black Rock Rangers and the Safety Council around the Man base. After 2007’s devastating early burn of the Man, the Art Team recognized that it is important for those who help build the Man and the Man base contribute to its safety. Members of the Man team, the Man base team, the Performance Safety Team and other volunteers helped guard the structure around the clock, from when the gates officially opened at 12:01 am Monday to when the base was closed in preparation for the burn. After having spent weeks in the desert building the Man and the base, it was difficult for some to take on this extra duty, but the safety needs of the structure were acknowledged to be more important than many other activities. A huge thanks to those who stayed up late and got up before dawn to help protect the Man! For 2009 we are going recruit additional “Man watchers” from other teams within the organization.

Eyes on Art

Eyes on Art is the group responsible for surveying art installations across the open playa and identifying potential safety issues ranging from unlit construction sites to stages and tall structures without adequate rails, etc. Members of this team spent each night of the event checking different areas and installations for problems. And thanks to a participant’s generous gift, the team was able to provide solar-powered lights for several unlit projects. This was the first year for the team, and they did a fantastic job making several projects safer. We look forward to further developing their focus and efforts in 2009.

Submitted by,
Beth Scarboroug