Renwick Rocks!

No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man

Exhibition at Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery is ongoing through January 21, 2019. For more info: exhibitions/burning-man

Ren Truth is Beauty Marco Cochrabe

“Truth is Beauty”  by Marco Conchrane

Pushing the outer limits of their own space, the Renwick Gallery brings the boundless creativity of Burning Man from Black Rock, Nevada, to the conservative confines of Washington, DC.

Since the first sybaritic spectacle in 1986, the dry lakebed outside Reno has been home to phantasmagoric sculptures, whimsical mechanical devices, and radical art. Minus the sex, drugs, and rock and roll, the Renwick indulges our curiosity in this countercultural contemporary art scene both in the museum and out into the neighborhood. Pick up a map at the museum to find six street art installations nearby, including the giant Grizzly Bear (photo below) made of pennies.

Based on poses from singer dancer Deja Solis, Marco Conchrane’s “Truth is Beauty” female form (above) defies its grand steel construction with otherworldly expressive freedom and lightness of being. Its message Conchrane explains in the wall text is “feminine energy and power” when women are safe and free from violence.

From light installations, interactive and monumental sculptures to otherworldly costumes and jewelry, the exhibit documents the history and spirit of the revelries at Burning Man, its creators, artists, and Burners (aka attendees). It’s the interaction of art, nature, and technology, and the next best thing to being in Black Rock.


Married at Burning Man in 2011, Lisa and Robert Ferguson collaborate on whimsical creations. Their “Ursa Major,” a Grizzly Bear made of 170,000 pennies derives from the eponymous constellation and invites viewers to gaze up at wonders of the night sky. 


Ren Dragon

Tin Pan Dragon

Ren Dragon Head

Tin Pan Dragon detail

Duane Flatmo developed his fantastical, amusing Tin Pan dragon out of recycled found objects. Close inspection of the former life of the components that compose the dragon will amuse kids and adults.

Step onto the footpads of interactive, magical mushrooms (images below) to witness their awesome opening and growth. No, you’re not hallucinating. These kinetic shrums are the collective genius of Foldhaus, a group of designers and engineers from San Francisco.

More fun awaits in every room. Bring the kids.


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