Tree Spire

The Black Rock Arts Foundation is proud to support a permanent installation of Tree Spire.

Tree Spire, by the Iron Monkeys
Whitaker Park, Reno, Nevada
October 2009
15′ H x 7’ W
Wood, steel

About the Project

First funded by Burning Man and exhibited in Black Rock City 2007, Tree Spire was the first project created by the Seattle art collective, the Iron Monkeys. Their four fifteen-foot tall trees were originally part of The Mangrove, a group of sculptural trees fashioned from recycled materials that surrounded Burning Man’s icon, The Man. These artificial trees were not burned; they survived to see the blue of other skies.

After the 2008 Burning Man event, The Mangrove was recreated on the south bank of the Truckee River in downtown Reno, on the corner of Sierra Street and Island Avenue. Eight of the tree sculptures, made by five different artist collectives, were displayed, with Tree Spire in the center of the collection.

Tree Spire at Whitaker Park, Reno, Nevada.

Encasing the base of the trunk of Tree Spire, the viewer will find inviting woodwork and steel benches. Tree Spire invites participants to take a moment (or ten) out of their day or night to have a seat under a tree and appreciate their surroundings. The artist’s use of traditional blacksmithing forms such as scrolls in the smaller branches pays homage to the trade of blacksmithing, to which the piece owes much of it’s structural integrity.

About the Artists

The Iron Monkeys are a Seattle-based metalworking collective, working under the gentle guidance and watchful eye of Tabasco Mills, owner of Seattle’s, The Blacksmith Shop.

The collective works together to design and create large-scale sculptural pieces, often combining both functional and decorative elements. Their work has been on display temporarily in Black Rock City at the Burning Man event, The Reno Mangrove, Burien Interim Arts Space, and permanently at Rainier Vista’s Central Park in South Seattle, Washington and Whitaker Park, in northwest Reno, Nevada.

The Iron Monkeys, BRAF Advisory Board Member Maria Partridge, and BRAF Board Member Crimson Rose at the Tree Spire at Whitaker Park, Reno, Nevada.


The Black Rock Arts Foundation was awarded a Public Art Challenge Grant in 2008 towards the permanent installation of Tree Spire in a city park. The grant was matched by donations from Ward 5, Old Northwest Neighborhood Advisory Board and City Councilman, David Aiazzi to place the sculpture in Whitaker Park. Additional funding came from The Robert Z. Hawkins Foundation, Reno Burners LLC and the Black Rock Arts Foundation.

The Black Rock Arts Foundation and a Project Grant from the City of Reno’s Art and Culture Commission funded this installation.We thank the following people, businesses and organizations for their generous support of Tree Spire:

  • City of Reno: Christine Fey, Stacey Spain, Councilman David Aiazzi, City of Reno Parks & Recreation
  • Black Rock Arts Foundation: Crimson Rose, Maria Partridge
  • Reno Volunteers: Richard Johnson, Bill Schultz, Erika Wesnousky, Dave Kaul, Berry Scott
  • Ward 5, Old Northwest Neighborhood Advisory Board
  • Robert Z. Hawkins Foundation
  • Reno Burners LLC
  • Fernley Electric
  • Ahearn Equipment, Inc.
  • Clean Energy Center
  • Telesto Nevada Inc.
  • United Ready Mix
  • Black Rock City, LLC – Burning Man

And to the artists that made it happen, Tabasco Mills, T-Bone, Dave and the Iron Monkeys.