The ARTery: Your Art Headquarters on Playa

Volunteers in the ARTery, 2023 (Photo by David Hill)

The ARTery is the headquarters of the Burning Man Art Department on playa, located at 6:30 and Esplanade in Black Rock City. It functions as a hub for information about art, as well as a check-in and resource center for artists, helping to  facilitate the placement and installation of their art on the playa during the Burning Man event.

The Burning Man Art Department

Before arriving on playa at the ARTery in August, there’s a lot of year-round activity within the Burning Man Art Department. We launch the annual Temple grant and Honoraria grant programs, complete a detailed review of all submissions, and select the grantees for the year.  We receive artists’ art installation questionnaires, closely reviewing them, asking questions, giving advice and sometimes even documenting their art project development. We also pre-place art; that is, we decide, with an artist’s input, where their installation will be located on playa.

What We Do

  • Review artists’ art installation questionnaires and help them through the subsequent planning process
  • Provide support and guidance to artists on how to best build, install, burn and clean up their creative visions
  • Keep records on the art that has been and will be, so participants can be inspired again and again
  • Celebrate and promote community and art

What We Don’t Do

  • We don’t tell artists what they should create
  • We don’t rate or rank or commission artworks

From the time artists register until we get to Black Rock City, we work with them to ensure some essential steps, including having adequate light on their artwork at night, helping them understand the precautions they must take to create safe fire art, and determining a cleanup plan to Leave No Trace (LNT).Some artists like to be placed in the bustling inner playa, while others prefer the serenity of the deep playa. Some people aren’t familiar with the issues of safe night lighting or protecting their art against damage and vandalism. The Art Department team will guide them through these choices and explain why guidelines are in place so they work better for all participants in Black Rock City.

Once an artist has come to the ARTery and checks in, we escort them to their installation location. The Art Department coordinates with other Burning Man departments, including the Department of Public Works (DPW) and the Heavy Equipment and Transportation team (HEaT), to assist with artists’ needs. At the end of the event, we inspect artists’ build sites for Matter Out of Place (MOOP) and burn scars… but otherwise we try not to bother them except to say THANKS and WOW!

Services for Participants

The ARTery space on the Esplanade is constantly filled with artists and other visitors. Some simply enjoy the lively atmosphere and chill out in our shade. Other folks want to learn more about the art installations and explore the opportunities for Art Discovery. For this purpose, the ARTery has a large map of the open playa that shows where art installations are located. You can also find information about burning artworks at the Fire Art Safety Team (FAST) desk. ARTerian volunteers offer a number of guided tours of the art installations and we also have printed self-guided tour maps that you can take with you. And, if you’re eager to hear more about this year’s art straight from the artists’ mouths, you can check out our Art Speaks programming where you can hear their engaging stories and ask questions.  

Volunteer with the Art Department

Interested in joining us? Learn more here.