An empty lot on the corner of Sierra Street and the Truckee River in downtown Reno has been converted into a coppice of sculptures that originally were exhibited at Burning Man 2007. Eight trees made from recycled materials stand in front of a 66-by-60-foot cloud mural wall just west of the Riverside artists lofts. On the playa last year, they were among the 20 trees that circled the Man.
The temporary interactive art garden called The Mangrove will stand until Dec. 12.
The exhibition plants the works of five sculptors — works designed for the expanse of the Black Rock Desert -- into a city environment.
Stacey Spain, public art specialist for the city of Reno, said it works. The Black Rock Arts Foundation won an arts and culture event grant from the city to display Mangrove.
A taste of the Man
The art fulfills the city's green initiative and also provides a taste of Burning Man to people who haven't gone, she said.
"This brings something back from Burning Man to show folks who may not have gone that it is not so much counterculture, it is just culture," Spain said. "To have these recycled trees right next to the river where we have the lovely green belt and we have the urban environment mixed with the pastoral environment of the trees, it's such a great confluence of ideas."
The major challenge in public art is finding the right piece for the right place, and Spain said she worked very hard to find the best placement for the grove.
"This is it," she said. "This was choice one. This is the spot."
The Green Grove
Ryan Jackson is well aware of the irony that he moved from Reno to San Francisco about a year ago to become recognized as a professional artist and is having his first major piece shown in The Mangrove.
"It's kind of a dream come true," said Jackson, who grew up in Carson Valley. "I'm at the river walk in Reno. I'm really excited. I never thought it would happen, let alone this quick in my art career. I'm a nervous wreck."
The twisted trunk and branches of his sculpture, which is called Pan's Perch, are pieces of steel collected while working in an exhaust shop. Hanging from the branches are lotus flowers with L.E.D. lights that change from blue to red to green to yellow.
"At nighttime, it puts out quite a nice a little ambiance," he said. "It almost breathes as the colors change on it."
The Mangrove is helping to breathe life into a city of "concrete mountains," said Crimson Rose, managing art director for Burning Man.
The sculptures also rejuvenate materials that were headed for the trash.
Kitty Gordon of San Rafael, Calif., said she and friends and family collected bottle caps for about five years for her Bottle Cap Tree.
"It was a long time coming, this piece," she said. "I knew there was something I wanted to do with them and started this slow accumulation."
Although Gordon constructed her piece specifically for Burning Man, she said it's "very satisfying to have the public to see art at Burning Man is not just for Burning Man."
"It has a bigger purpose that way," she said.
Reno Arts and Culture Manager Christine Fey said the art at the weeklong festival, which attracted 49,000 people to the desert this year, translates so well to an urban environment because it was designed for urban transformation.
"I don't see them so much creating something indigenous to the playa but bringing their contribution to creating a city," she said. "So, I've not been surprised that it would translate pretty well to an urban environment. They donate their creativity to help build that city."
Kay Morrison is part of a team from Seattle called Iron Monkeys that has four 15-foot steel trees called Tree Spire Project in The Mangrove. The trees are encased by benches, enticing the public to sit under geometric shapes covered with fabric that are lit inside and spin with the breeze.
"I'm a firm believer in the fact that the kind of art that's made for Burning Man is not something that should be kept at Burning Man," she said. "It's sad to see so much of it taken back down to scrap, or burned or put in a warehouse to get old."
One of the trees will become a permanent installation in Reno. Fey said she expects it to be placed in Newlands Park on California Avenue.
Reno is the ideal place to begin collaboration with the artists affiliated with Black Rock Arts Foundation, Morrison said.
"I think it's a really great place to start here because of the proximity to Burning Man and because Nevada has put up with tens of thousands of burners coming through over and over and over again," she said. "We've got something interesting to look at, you've got a great place to put it, so let's build revenue and let's build awareness of art and let's build awareness of downtown civic centers. And let's do this together with the partnerships that we can create. I think it's fantastic."