**Guest Post by the team at The Bay Lights Project
When The Bay Lights debuts on March 5th at 9:00 pm, the world’s largest LED light sculpture will transform the western span of the San Francisco Bay Bridge into a monumental illuminated canvas for all the world to see. The Grand Lighting opening events promise to lure Bay Area locals and international visitors to public places, restaurants, cafés and other vantage points along the Marin and San Francisco waterfronts, on hilltops and in every single neighborhood with a view of the Bay Bridge. Several of the taller businesses in Union Square are sure to have fabulous views.
Witness the birth of the largest light sculpture in existence
Excitement is mounting! Grand Lighting events include a Live Stream Webcast starting at 8:30 p.m., plus complimentary hot chocolate and churros on Pier 7 and a number of special cruises and other major gatherings. Of course, anyone who has a view of the northern side of the Bay Bridge West Span will most likely be hosting viewing parties for family and friends.
The Bay Lights is the largest project yet by internationally renowned artist Leo Villareal —perhaps best known for his permanent installation, Multiverse, at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The $8 million privately funded piece, which will shine nightly from dusk until 2:00 am for the next two years, responds to environmental stimuli such as the underlying water, the overriding traffic and the surrounding weather. “I think viewers really identify a lot of things that you would see in nature, so I start attributing different qualities to the piece,” Villareal says. “Just as you start to get an idea of what it is, it starts to shift and change—everything is evolving, but there is no beginning, middle, or end.”
Over a mile and a half long, The Bay Lights is eight times the scale of the Eiffel Tower’s 100th Anniversary lighting; this ever-changing curtain of light represents far more than the logistical achievement of stringing 25,000 LED nodes along nearly five miles’ worth of vertical suspension cables. By conservative estimates, $97 million dollars will be added to the local economy, and The Bay Lights will be seen by over 50 million people in the Bay Area alone, with billions more seeing it in the media and online.
The Bay Lights is made possible through the generosity of its patrons, partners and a groundswell of community support, including the Gift of Light program that lets you choose and name one or more of the 25,000 LED lights in The Bay Lights “virtual sculpture” to celebrate a favorite person, group or cause. When you name a light to give, keep or dedicate at gift.thebaylights.org, your Gift of Light donation supports THE BAY LIGHTS and illuminates the arts for years to come.
About the Artist
Born in New Mexico and educated at Yale and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Leo Villareal now lives in New York City, where he creates artworks using light-emitting diodes and his own proprietary software. The first light sculpture he created was based on a strobe beacon he built in 1997 to mark his Burning Man camp. Since then, he has completed site-specific commissions for P.S.1/MoMA; the Brooklyn Academy of Music; the National Gallery of Art; and the 30-foot-tall Buckyball on display this past winter at Manhattan’s Madison Square Park and many others.
About The Bay Lights
The Bay Lights is a project of Illuminate the Arts (ITA), an organization based in San Francisco that’s dedicated to the creation and presentation of community-activating public art. Ben Davis, founder of the branding agency Words Pictures Ideas, is the chairman of ITA; Amy Critchett is the executive producer of The Bay Lights and ITA’s executive director. The Bay Lights is supported by individual patrons, pro bono counsel Morrison & Foerster, and corporate sponsor Commune Hotels & Resorts. The official fiscal sponsor is ZERO1: The Art and Technology Network. Dedicated solar panels installed in Davis, CA, by CleanPath will offset all energy used in The Bay Lights. For more information visit www.thebaylights.org.