Burning Man is coming up Aug. 28-Sept. 5, and artists working to finalize their projects. Here’s a sampling of the many projects being built in Reno and Sparks this summer.
For more on 2022 Burning Man art from our region—and from around the globe—visit Burning Man’s 2022 Art Installations page at burningman.org/event/2022-art-installations.
Peter Hazel, “Glass Shark”: Even since Peter Hazel switched careers—from granite and tile contractor to sculptor—the commissions from cities and private collectors have been rolling in faster each year. Close to home, the city of Reno commissioned his glass and mosaic “Dragonfly” in Virginia Lake. This summer, he’ll send a few powder-coated steel trees affixed with glass butterflies to Plains, Ga., where its new home will be the Jimmy Carter National Historical Park. Napa County and Incline Village pieces are coming up next.
Meanwhile, Hazel and his team are right on track with their latest Burning Man piece, a 25-foot glass and steel shark, riding 20 feet in the air on a steel wave. Right now, the sculpture exists as a piece of shark-shaped foam and steel bands. Once the build team applies an outer layer of cement and custom-made glass pieces, curved to fit the shark’s contours exactly, they’ll remove the foam and light the shark from within using LED strips. Per the request of a child who visited the studio this summer, the shark’s name is Jerry.
Instagram @peterhazelart; Facebook Peter Hazel Art; Support www.gofundme.com/f/jerry-the-glass-shark-to-burning-man-2022.
Bibi Bliekendaal, “The Tinkle Drum”: One day, Bibi Bliekendaal, a New Zealander of Dutch heritage, heard a solo cellist playing in a park in Amsterdam. “That just got her mind going about solo music and getting people to play music,” said Andy Justice, a fellow Kiwi who’s on her build team. “And then she came up the idea of the music box in a hamster wheel.”
Long story short, the human-sized wooden hamster wheel came to fruition, was constructed in Sparks, and is now packed on a truck ready to travel to the desert. This past weekend, Justice, along with Yarin Snapir, who’s from Israel, were sweeping up the last traces of their construction debris at The Generator. The piece is called “The Tinkle Drum.” The metal nodes that are typically part of a music box drum are made of nitrous oxide cannisters and can be unscrewed and re-screwed to and from sockets to make the drum play different tunes. Justice said that “The Tinkle Drum” playlist is themed around peace. Listen up for John Lennon’s “Imagine” and Cat Stevens’ “Peace Train.”
Barry Crawford, “Ratchetfish”: Barry Crawford has been building mechanical creatures for Maker Faires, Burning Man and other festivals for years. Viewers can turn a crank to maneuver the articulated metal tentacles of his giant squid or the front legs of his “Rearing Horse,” which is on semi-permanent display on Reno’s West Fourth Street. His latest creation is “Ratchetfish,” made almost exclusively of fabricated metal parts—plus an off-the-shelf vegetable steamer basket, which is a great material for when you need a giant eyeball that dilates and un-dilates. “It’s got sort of the whole-body swimming motion,” Crawford said. “Different fins, moving different ways.” And the post that it’s mounted on will allow it to swim in a circle.
Tom Boughner, “Consumption”: One day, Tom Boughner, a Reed High School art teacher, was at the dump. “There was just a field of used appliances out there,” said collaborator Richard Schreinert. Boughner was distressed by the notion of how much waste results from planned obsolescence and our frenzy to upgrade to the latest appliance models—hence his 2022 playa art piece, “Consumption.” When finished, it will be a 45-foot high dollar sign made of washing machines and other appliances welded together, with used ski lift towers from an Arizona scrapyard as a support structure. “Around the base of the guywires, we’re going to have little art pieces and informational pieces,” explained Schreinert, who is the project lead. They’ll include messaging about how waste disproportionately affects poorer communities, for example, and tips on how used appliance innards can be recycled into planters and burn barrels.
Benjamin Langholz, “Beam”: Benjamin Langholz is a Californian who lives in Berlin and is assembling his playa piece, “Beam,” at The Generator. The material is two steel I-beams totaling 150 feet in length and 20,000 pounds. They’ll be sloped at angles gentle enough to walk on and reach a 15-foot peak. While the clean, straight, minimalist lines promise an elegant visual effect against the backdrop of the craggy Black Rock Range, to Langholz, the piece is more about the experience than the look.
“(It allows) you to walk up to this moment of presence with each step being a little more risk and responsibility than the step before,” he said. “And then, as you get higher and higher up, hopefully you come to this moment of intensified consciousness.”
At a cultural moment that embraces hair-trigger litigiousness, Langholz wants you to make your own decisions about your safety rather than have an institution make them for you. His reason: “I think art is about taking experiences in your life that have made you feel something—I don’t mean just like an emotional feeling; I mean like a physical feeling—and then transmitting that as high-resolution, as humanly possible, to another human being, in my case, through a sculpture.”