Big Art for Small Towns Opening Reception – August 7

Bottlecap Gazebo
Bottlecap Gazebo

Black Rock Arts Foundation (BRAF), Burning Man Project and the City of Fernley will unveil three art pieces in Main Street Park on Thursday August 7, including Desert Tortoise, a new, permanent piece by local artist Pan Pantoja using mosaics created by local students and community members.

The opening reception is from 6-8 p.m. at the park at 610 Main Street in Fernley and will include live music, speakers and arts activities for children and adults.

The park and artwork are the latest effort by BRAF and Burning Man Project as part of their Big Art For Small Towns program, funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

“Several thousand participants pass through Fernley each year on their way to Burning Man and we felt compelled to share the cultural and economic benefits with the surrounding communities,” said BRAF Executive Director Tomas McCabe. “We’re tremendously grateful for the community’s enthusiastic participation and contributions to the project, without which it couldn’t have happened.”

Desert Tortoise
Desert Tortoise

Desert Tortoise is a 25-foot long and 17-foot tall tall sculpture crafted from boulders from a local quarry and thousands of 4”x4” painted ceramic tiles of images which reflect the culture of Fernley and the surrounding area. Pantoja worked with students from every school in Fernley and community members who took part in a community painting night.

The tortoise fosters community,” Pantoja said. “The tiles were a way to include participation from the majority of the residents and their children.” Rockspinner 6 is a nine-ton stone slab by artist Zach Coffin that rotates on an axis such that a single person can set the piece in motion.

“I design my pieces to encourage people to interact with them – and experience the surprise that something so massive can move so effortlessly,” Coffin said. “It’s a great feeling to know the people of Fernley will have a chance to experience it.”

Bottlecap Gazebo, by artists Max Poynton and Andrew Grinberg. The gazebo was designed to be a social meeting place fostering interaction and connection. The name comes from the thousands of recycled bottle caps that were individually smashed flat and drilled and strung together with wire in the form of leaves, creating complex lattices of glimmering colors and patterns.

The Big Art for Small Towns project is a collaboration between Black Rock Arts Foundation, the Burning Man Project, and the City of Fernley. The founders of BRAF and the Burning Man Project have a personal investment in giving back to the Burning Man event’s neighboring communities.

With its intent to support creative placemaking projects that transform communities into lively, beautiful, and sustainable places with the arts at their core, the National Endowment for the Arts’ Our Town grant was an ideal match for the vision of this project.

About Black Rock Arts Foundation The mission of the Black Rock Arts Foundation is to support and promote community, interactive art and civic participation. BRAF was founded by several of the partners who founded and produce Burning Man, an annual arts festival in the Nevada desert. BRAF was established to bring this idea of creating and coexisting with art to the rest of the world, with the vision that community-driven, inclusive, and interactive art is vital to a thriving culture. The foundation received its 501(c)3 status in November of 2001. For more information visit

About Burning Man Project The mission of the Burning Man Project is to facilitate and extend the culture that has issued from the Burning Man event into a larger world. This culture forms an integrated pattern of values, experience, and behavior: a coherent and widely applicable way of life. The survival and elaboration of this culture depend upon a cultivated capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations.

The primary purpose of Burning Man Project is to uphold and manifest the values described in the Ten Principles of Burning Man. Burning Man Project provides infrastructural tools and frameworks that will allow people to apply the Ten Principles in many communities and spheres of endeavor. For more information visit

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