Radical self-expression is found all over Nevada.
You may have heard about a festival that takes place each year on a massive playa in northern Nevada. Attended by tens of thousands, the celebration of art and self-expression that is Burning Man is now a part of our cultural lexicon. While tens of thousands flock to the playa to see the incredible art pieces, most people never get to appreciate them. Lose that fear of missing out, because numerous Burning Man works can be seen in open-air galleries around the state.
Big Rig Jig
Tanker trucks drive the art at this 50-foot sculpture located at Fergusons Downtown. Premiering at Burning Man in 2007, the warped, Daliesque installation doubles as a viewing platform. Hop in the lower truck and climb up to a 4-story view of downtown Las Vegas.
After her debut in Black Rock City in 2010, the mesmerizing 40-foot-tall sculpture of a dancing woman found a home at The Park at MGM Resorts in Las Vegas. Dazzling both in daylight and when illuminated at night, the piece was created with two layers of geodesic triangles, covered by a skin of stainless-steel mesh. It is lit by 2,828 individual RGB LED lights.
One of the most-photographed art installations from the playa, the Mantis (a girl, actually) draws crowds to Las Vegas’ Downtown Container Park like a beacon in the night. Each sunset, the 55-foot Mantis puts on quite the spectacle, shooting flames from her antenna accompanied by a personal soundtrack.
Identity Awareness – Family
Originally created in 2017 for Burning Man, a giant metal heart—suitable for climbing on—is supported by a steel family, meant to signify strength and collaboration. The piece now sits in Downtown Victorian Square in Sparks and is part of the Sparks Art Walk.
Space Whale and Believe
Created for the playa in 2016, the steel and stained-glass sculpture of a life-size mother and calf known as “Space Whale” is now the centerpiece of City Plaza in Downtown Reno (see previous page). After dark, the pair are illuminated, casting a surreal glow. While there, don’t miss the “Believe” sign, which was first displayed at Burning Man in 2016 and is now a must-stop spot for selfies.
Reno’s Playa Trail
Embark on a self-guided walking tour through Midtown, the Reno Riverwalk District, and Downtown Reno with the help of Art Spot Reno’s Playa Trail online map. It lists specific sculptures with directions, artist information, and more. While a handful of Burning Man art exhibits can be found around town, some permanent installations and their locations include:
•“Guardian of Eden” at the Nevada Museum of Art
•“Ichthyosaur Puppet” at the Discovery Museum
• “Pan’s Perch” at River School Farm
Reno’s Neon Line District
Spread across 20 city blocks near Downtown Reno, this new project is home to a changing gallery of sculptures that had their debut at Black Rock City. Four sculptures—including the 49-foot tall “Desert Guard” that was at Burning Man in 2018—are currently on display along 4th Street.
Inside the Mind of Da Vinci
Located not far from Nevada’s capitol in Carson City, this 7.5-ton sculpture is a 10-foot-tall by 23-foot-long model of Leonardo da Vinci’s head that debuted on the playa in 2016. Inside the head—made from concrete, recycled glass, and steel—are the sketches and drawings made famous by da Vinci.
Not at the Burn, but Still Cool
Art Island at Area 15
An experiential bazaar located minutes from The Strip, Area 15 hosts larger-than-life art installations, virtual reality experiences, innovative shopping experiences, and special events. Art Island is where you can see such wild art pieces as a 14-foot-tall steel statue of a man and woman embracing and a massive neon-lit owl poised in flight.
Bottlecap Gazebo and Desert Tortoise
The Main Street Art Park in Fernley is home to a couple of unexpected and seriously fun sculptures. The name comes from the thousands of bottle caps that were smashed flat, drilled, and strung together in the form of leaves, creating complex lattices of glimmering colors and patterns. The “Bottlecap Gazebo” was designed to be a social meeting place fostering interaction and connection.
“Desert Tortoise” is a 25-foot-long and 17-foot-tall sculpture crafted from locally sourced boulders and thousands of 4-inch by 4-inch painted ceramic tiles of images which reflect the local culture.
Bicentennial Sculpture Park
This downtown sculpture park along the Truckee River is home to six permanent sculptures. While not originally at Burning Man, their whimsical style makes them a perfect fit. Look for the “Rhinoman” statue and a giant metal horse, and you’ve found the right place.