One thing that keeps me coming back to Black Rock City each year is the ART.
It has been said many times that the playa is a blank slate, a tabula rasa, a seemingly infinite empty space that all of us who are the Burning Man community fill up for a week with so much art that it is bursting at the seams, and seeing how the playa challenges artists is a thing of beauty.
Our artists are playa hardened. They are well aware of how a massive, not unexpected dust storm affects agility of machinery and mechanics. They know how a rain storm stops all forward momentum and that a wind gust can topple the mightiest monument. In the environment of Black Rock City, just spending months building an art piece and transporting it is only a small part of the challenges that artists face to fill up that space. They are planning for an art show at the edge of the apocalypse, with insidious alkaline powder invading every electronic device, with huge and heavy sculptural forms being moved across the soft packed playa surface all using an infrastructure they and Burning Man set up for only a few weeks a year.
Our artists are aware of the vastness of the space they are attempting to fill up. I believe they are basically mad to even attempt to do what they do every year and those of us who are not building art out there are so fortunate to be at this point in history; to be a part of this thing we call Burning Man.
Sometimes on playa, we can take the art for granted. You will always stumble into something wonderful on your journeys to and fro and that is indeed planned. But for you art junkies out there who want to see it ALL each year, the ARTery is Black Rock City’s portal for Art Tours, and this year there is a panoply of options to explore.
A web page with all the information you need is in the works, but here are some details for now. You should stop by the ARTery at 6:30 and Esplanade, next to Everywhere, if you are interested in any of these tours. The ARTery’s hours are 9am to 6pm every day (closed for lunch from 1-2pm) and they would love to see you! Keep reading for all you need to know about Art Tours this year.
The ARTery’s art tours will be a bit different this year!
Art Tours are on mutant vehicles, and leave at 11am Tuesday through Friday. Tickets will be available at 9am at the Everywhere Pavilion, on the same day as the tour. New this year: tickets for the art tours will only be given to mobility-challenged folks. The original scope of the daily ARTery tours was always for people who need a ride, since most of us are mobile in whatever way we move about the playa. This was the primary audience at the inception of the tours, but with the popularity of Art Tours, the ARTery blossomed to share the tours with hundreds (if not thousands) more than originally conceived.
Mobility-challenged is defined as:
- People with health issues that affect their ability to get around
- Pregnant women
- Parents with small children
Bringing companions to assist you is ok.
Acquiring large mutant vehicles has been a challenge as the tours grow in popularity, so the ARTery is calling out to all of you with vehicles to contact them and hopefully there will be enough space to accommodate everyone in the future. If you have a large mutant vehicle and would like to join the effort to ferry the citizens of our fine City out to see some art, contact Maria at the ARTery at maria (at) burningman.com
That said, daily ARTery art tours are a great way to follow along on your feet, your bike, an art car or any other means of getting around. Just be at the ARTery at 11am, Tuesday through Friday.
Here are the many tour options we have this year. Tickets are not needed for Docent and Bike tours, just show up at the ARTery and go along with your fellow art lovers for hours of fun.
1. Docent Tours
Throughout the week, docents will be offering in-depth talks about some art projects, the artists and the process of bringing art to Black Rock City. For details on the when and where, stop by the ARTery for information when you arrive.
2. Bike Tours
Guided bike tours start at 10:00am Tuesday through Friday. We also encourage citizens to bike along with the Mutant Vehicles on the 11am ARTery art tours.
3. A “Meet the Artist” tour happens on Thursday, where the creators of certain pieces are interviewed and the tour is broadcast on BMIR for the entire city to enjoy.
4. The 2014 Self-Guided Tour will be available before the event for printing at home. This is a stunning document that covers a lot of the art in Black Rock City and can be downloaded to your devices or printed out. The Self-Guided Tour will also be available to pick up on-playa at the ARTery.
5. We also provide an extensive Art Tour Compendium. Each year we create a 100+ page guide about the art in Black Rock City. This will be available online on burningman.com to download prior to the event. This is a fantastic guide to the art on playa that includes insights you cannot get anywhere else.
6. There is a special “Kids’ Tour” on Wednesday, highlighting pieces for the children to enjoy. Visit the ARTery before Wednesday for more information on this tour.
7. Audio Tour
One of my favorite ways to learn about the art is the Audio Art Tour, put together by Jim Tierney, Kit Kat and Evonne Heyning. Those MP3s will be available soon. Go to the web page, download them, and be on your merry way.
Burning Man has always been driven by participation. The ARTery works tirelessly to get the art our collective artists create set up on the playa and to inform you about the bounty that awaits you in Black Rock City.
With so many opportunities to enjoy the Art on playa, YOU can participate: become a tour guide. You can learn about the art and share what you know with others. 2014 promises to be a banner year for art and each year just keeps getting better. Plan ahead, download the audio and written tours, visit the ARTery and you will find yourself in one of the most spectacular spaces art has ever graced. We can’t wait to see you out there.