Illuminate the Arts, the organization that raised the funds to install The Bay Lights, held an event Wednesday night to mark the launch of a new fundraising drive with Crowdtilt, with a goal of keeping Leo Villareal's magical LED installation on the Bay Bridge for another 12 years. They've also recently passed a hurdle with a second "transformational" work of light-based, electronic public art, which would be installed along the entire length of Market Street from the Embarcadero to Van Ness.
The initial goal for the Bay Lights is to raise $1.2 million through small donations in the next 45 days. So far, with nearly 4,000 individual donations, they've already raised $187,000 in the first two days of the campaign. Crowdtilt approached Illuminate the Arts hoping to spearhead the campaign, given how high-profile and popular the artwork has been. As Crowdtilt's James Beshara tells SFist, "Even my Uber driver said, when I told him where I was going and what the event was about, 'Hey I'll give $500 to that.'"
The campaign is seeking donations as small as $10, but there are nice perks for larger gifts, including a working, six-foot-wide scale model of the Bay Lights (one bridge tower's worth) for gifts of $50,000. In total, to keep the piece up until 2026, they're looking to raise another $12 million the majority of which will go toward a wholesale reinstallation of the entire piece in 2015, with more robust LED fixtures, after a scheduled repainting of the bridge takes place next spring by CalTrans.
Meanwhile, Illuminate the Arts is working on a second, very cool light-installation project that would dramatically transform the Market Street corridor. It's called "LightRail," and it would feature a series of colored LEDs all along the electrified Muni wires over Market Street, from One Market up to Van Ness. The lights would move to reflect the motion of BART trains below ground, with different colors denoting different train lines, creating an above-ground visualization of the trains' comings and goings through downtown. (See the video below for an illustration.) This is unconfirmed, but Muni probably didn't want their train movements shown above ground, because it would be way less magical to see a bunch of LEDs stuck in place for 20 minutes at a time.
LightRail is a collaborative work by artists George Zisiadis and Stefano Corazza and it would be executed by the same team that installed the Bay Lights. As the Examiner reports, they've just cleared one hurdle in the execution process, which was signoff by the Historic Preservation Commission. There was concern they would need to install 83 utility boxes on historic light polls along the street, but engineers have devised a way to put the equipment into existing utility boxes along the street, and only drill small holes into the tops of the poles.
Ben Davis, director of Illuminate the Arts, speaks of the project as an extension of the Bay Lights, in a way, bringing light-based art from the Bay right into the heart of the city. Also, it would, "reflect above our head what's happening beneath our feet in the transit system, both celebrating the urban environment but really more beautifully using light and energy and movement to seamlessly connect community up and down the length of Market."
The project is being privately funded, and it's not clear when it may be installed, after clearing further agency hurdles. It would be the world's first subway-responsive light sculpture.