2013 Burning Man Arts Report

Grants To Artists Program

Since its inception in 2002, BRAF’s Grants to Artists program has offered small grants, often in the form of seed funding, to artists and collectives across the country and around the world. BRAF has grown this program from $11,000 in awards in 2002 to $50,000 in awards in 2013. Today, BRAF has awarded over 100 grants to projects worldwide.

Watch our new video about our Grants to Artists program, produced by BRAF Board Member, Warren Trezevant.

BRAF’s 2013 grantees hailed from the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, Vietnam, and from Brooklyn, New York; New Orleans, Louisiana; Boston, Massachusetts; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Oakland and Los Angeles, California.

2013 Grantee Bamboofonomat. Photo courtesy of the artists.
2013 Grantee Bamboofonomat. Photo courtesy of the artists.

Our Grantees represent diversity, both in their chosen media and strategies of bringing art into their communities. The concepts and implementation of the projects contrast greatly, employing both high and low- tech media, inviting both expressive freedom and refinement of craft, arising from both established partnerships and grassroots efforts, reaching both small-town and metropolitan communities. Each project responds to a community’s culture, needs, and environment in an innovative and unique way.

Read more about our 2013 grantee projects on the program’s webpage.

2013 Grantee Bartlett Events
The Opening Reception for 2013 Grantee Bartlett Events


(Above) 2013 Grantee Metamorphosis by Alex Andre Thevenot at the Columbus Museum of Art (CMA.)


The Bike Bridge

April of this year saw the installation and unveiling of The Bike Bridge. During one of Oakland’s First Friday events several hundred BRAF supporters and fans of the Oakland arts scene gathered to celebrate this remarkable achievement of collaboration and community engagement.

The Bike Bridge was a collaboration with 12 young women from Oakland schools, artist Michael Christian (well known for his large scale metal works displayed at Burning Man,) and with partner organization The Crucible. Together, the young artists and Christian designed and constructed the piece using primarily reclaimed bicycle parts. The results are fantastic!

It was for this project that BRAF received our first grant, in the amount of $10,000, from the National Endowment for the Arts. We’d like to extend additional thanks to our partner organization, The Crucible, to the Bill Graham Foundation, the Darby Foundation, to Melissa Baron, Greg Galanos and Carole L’Abbe, and Bobby Sarnoff, to all of the backers of the project’s successful Kickstarter Campaign and, most of all, to the young artists for their creative vision and hard work!

The public enjoys the Bike Bridge at the Uptown Art Park Opening Event on Friday, April 5, 2013. Photo by George Post.
The public enjoys the Bike Bridge at the Uptown Art Park Opening Event on Friday, April 5, 2013. Photo by George Post.

The Bike Bridge is the subject of a new short documentary by filmmaker Pierre Forcioli-Conti.

The Bike Bridge by Pierre Forcioli-Conti (One ant red) on Vimeo


The Youth Education Spaceship (Y.E.S.)

BRAF was proud to join our partners, Maker Faire, Exploratorium, and the Crucible in supporting the Burning Man Project’s Youth Education Spaceshipor Y.E.S., debuted at Maker Faire this year. Lead artist Dana Albany worked with local San Francisco children to build the sculpture using mostly reclaimed materials.

Children from the Tenderloin, Bayview/Hunter’s Point Boys & Girls Club of San Francisco were given the opportunity to help create a spacecraft under the guidance of many artists skilled in several disciplines. Over the course of three months, the children made model spaceships and created mosaic stars and imaginary planets out of recycled glass, mirror, tiles, and repurposed objects collected at Recology and Building Resources. Their work adorns the exterior of the spacecraft. At the Crucible, the kids learned how to make fused glass tiles and the art of glass sand-casting, which has been installed in the interior. During the formation of the spacecraft they were engaged in discussions about recycling, creative reuse, environmentalism, solar energy, LED lighting, photography, soundscape creation, robotics, space travel and astronomy.

So far, the Y.E.S. has made appearances at San Francisco’s Exploratorium and at Maker Faire in San Mateo, in California, in May, 2013, and the Learning Village in Las Vegas, Nevada in November, 2013. It will continue to tour schools, art and science centers, museums and playgrounds, serving as a future model of a mobile classroom for science and art education.

Y.E.S at Maker Faire 2013
Y.E.S at Maker Faire 2013. Photo by George Post.


Twilight at the Presidio

In October, BRAF partnered with San Francisco’s Presidio Trust and with Off the Grid street food vendors to co-produce a series of casual, friendly and free community gatherings we called Twilight at the Presidio. Each Wednesday night in the month of October, 2013, community members were invited to relax under the stars, lounging next to toasty fire pits, or under the cover of lantern-lit cabanas. Off the Grid street food vendors served up tapas-style dishes and cocktails while acoustic musicians set the soundtrack to this cozy, campfire evening.

Twilight at the Presidio. San Francisco, CA. 2013.
Twilight at the Presidio. San Francisco, CA. 2013.

BRAF curated fire art sculptures for the evening, sharing our community’s artists with a new audience. Participating artists included Kristin Humphreys of Vulken fire dance group, Christopher Schardt, John DeVenezia and Charlie Gadeken.

These leisurely events were extremely well received and BRAF looks forward to participating in more in the future.

A visitor directs the action of Christopher Schardt's fire sculpture, Pyroticulation, at BRAF's Twilight at the Presidio event, October, 2013.
A visitor directs the action of Christopher Schardt’s fire sculpture, Pyroticulation, at BRAF’s Twilight at the Presidio event, October, 2013.


Homoroborous at the Exploratorium

BRAF was honored to have the opportunity to once again support Peter Hudson’s beloved work, Homouroboros, in an installation on Pier 15 in San Francisco. The Black Rock Arts Foundation exhibited Homouroboros in San Jose in 2008 and we are thrilled to present, to the Bay Area public, another chance to interact with it. The piece is located in front of the new facility of BRAF’s partner organization the Exploratorium. This exhibition of this iconic piece of Burning Man art is free and open to the public, without museum admission, from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. every day. Homouroboros was installed on October 24th, 2013 and will remain up through January 6th, 2014.

Peter Hudson's Homoroborous at The Exploratorium, December, 2013. Photo courtesy of George Post.
Peter Hudson’s Homoroborous at The Exploratorium, December, 2013. Photo courtesy of George Post.


Aurora the Willow

In 2011, Aurora the Willow made its debut at Burning Man. The festival’s 60,000 attendees were enchanted by Aurora’s fairytale whimsy, dazzling lights, and serene yet majestic presence. The piece found its way into the hearts of many, including those of local Palo Alto, California, children Sam (age eleven) and Julia (age nine) Hirschman, and Aurora’s journey to their hometown was set in motion. With the help of their father, Harry Hirschman, they launched a campaign to bring the sculpture to their city.

Aurora, named and inspired by artist Charles Gadeken’s young daughter, is a 35’ tall sparkling, opalescent metal sculpture of a weeping willow tree. Its 40’ canopy is composed of 4,200 hand-­beaten copper leaves and is illuminated by over 40,000 LED lights. These lights cycle through an algorithm of colors that correspond to the seasons.

The Hirschman family reached out to Gadeken, and to BRAF, and together we launched a fundraising campaign, a Kickstarter campaign, hosted fundraising events and installed the piece at Maker Faire, in May, 2013, where participants had the opportunity to create additional leaves for the tree.

Aurora at Maker Faire 2013.
Aurora at Maker Faire 2013. Photo by George Post.

The Hirschmans tirelessly pursued their vision, and won the approval of Palo Alto’s Art Commission, who committed to host the sculpture’s public installation in King Plaza, in front of Palo Alto City Hall, where Aurora was installed in November, 2013, and will remain for at least one year, pending funding. But the aspirations of these young art enthusiasts would not have been realized if not for the contributions of BRAF supporters. Aurora’s installation in Palo Alto is a demonstration of collaboration, community and creative vision.

The project quickly attracted the enthusiasm of other local children, who identify themselves proudly as the “Aurora Kids.” This passionate group of youth initiated several outreach campaigns and have proposed interactive programming that will be pursued, funding permitting. 

2013 Civic Arts project Aurora, by Charles Gadeken, in Palo Alto, Ca.
2013 Civic Arts project Aurora, by Charles Gadeken, in Palo Alto, Ca.