The Generator, A Community Art and Builder’s Space

The Generator with LOVE by Jeff Schomberg and Laura Kimpton being moved
The Generator with LOVE by Jeff Schomberg and Laura Kimpton being moved
Gene kids2
Youngsters making things

There is a new art kid on the block! The Generator is a non-profit, inclusive, community art and builder’s space in greater Reno, Nevada (actually in Sparks). It’s open to anyone who wants to make art and be part of a creative community, and they run on their version of Burning Man’s Ten Principles.

I went for a tour a few weeks ago, and I was amazed. There is every sort of tool, and many different kinds of artists: painters, sculptors, woodworkers, Burning Man Honorarium artists, brand new artists of every sort, and children learning art. And the best part is there is no cost to anyone who wants to participate in making any kind of art.

This is what they have to say about themselves:

Welcome to The Generator! We’re an inclusive art space for anyone who wants to make art and be part of a creative community.

The Generator is an oasis of decommodification. We don’t buy. We don’t sell. We dream. We convene. We create. We make. We’re inspired by the magic and inspiration we see in all its enormity at Burning Man each summer, and we want to keep it alive all year. We combine forces and share resources in the name of creative growth and community involvement for all. We have light industrial equipment and tools, artist mentorship resources, 3 phase power, and 35,000 square feet of workspace. We share our collective know-how and we hope to learn from yours. We’re here to encourage professional artists and beginners alike to make art and to learn from each other as a creative community.

We operate under the same community ethic outlined in Burning Man’s Ten Principles. You can read The Generator’s version HERE.

Bill Fixing the Drill Press
Bill Fixing the Drill Press

Okay, so that is who they are. What do they do? They do everything! Here are a few of the workshops they’ve held recently: Swamp Cooler Class, Paper Making Workshop, Don’t Cut Your Fingers Off Workshop, Composting and Worms Workshop, Upholstery Class, Lasers for Beginners, Kids art classes, Drill Press Class, MIG Welding Class, Metal Shop Basics, Laser Cutting, How to Prepare Your Photos, T-shirt Deconstruction Class, and Bookbinding Class, and who knows what I’ve missed.

They also have art events. Some recent ones include “What Dreams May Come,” an immersive painting and performance experience with RyanO Ostler and Matthew Schultz. And “A Walk Through Lucidity,” an exploration: “Come explore art like you never have. Nine artists will take you on a journey through their creativity. Come explore with us as we look into the creative process of each artist by turning the participants into the art.”

When I paid my visit to The Generator, I saw kids helping build art, plants growing, big art and little art. Some of the big art is being built for Burning Man 2014.

Shaping the face on Embrace
Shaping the face on Embrace

Favorites were the ever-popular Embrace, a Burning Man 2014 Honorarium installation, a 72-foot-tall wooden cathedral-like sculpture of two human figures, designed to be a celebration of all of our relationships. Embrace is so big that it has outgrown the inside of the Generator and is now being built in the parking lot. They are building every day, and it is truly a collaborative effort. Everyone is welcome to come and work. The team will find tasks that fit the volunteer’s skill set. Sounds like Radical Inclusion to us.

Another favorite is the Library of Babel. Also a Burning Man 2014 Honorarium installation. It is a structure built to interpret and expand upon Jorge Luis Borges’ ‘The Library of Babel.’ It will be a writing space at Burning Man where ideas big and small can be captured. They are making sheets of paper that are about 4′ by 6′, then binding them into smaller pages to create books. How cool is that?

My friend April went on a tour of The Generator a few weeks after I did, and this is what she had to say about it:

It was inspiring to see all the creativity and collaboration going on at The Generator. I think we saw nearly every space being used! There were folks working in the blazing hot sun to build Embrace, others in the cool air conditioned sewing and computer rooms, and others in the main space, building theme camp pieces and working on a vehicle. I’ll definitely make time to stop by again, if for no other reason than to breathe in all of that great energy.

About the author: Affinity


Affinity, a Burner since 2000, was legally married on the Playa in 2001, was wedding coordinator and then training coordinator at Burning Man, before becoming the Black Rock Arts Foundation (BRAF) Social Media Coordinator and an Advisory Board Member. An attorney, she served on the Board of Directors of the Western Pension and Benefits Conference. She interned with the Human Awareness Institute for 10 years. She writes about how art is envisioned, produced, created, installed and its afterlife.