Video: New Burning Man Art Fired Up in Hayes Valley

Charles Gadeken’s dazzling LED wonder SQUARED has ignited, and is open to the public beginning Friday night.

The latest work of giant, beautiful public art at Hayes Valley’s Patricia’s Green is now installed, as Charles Gadeken’s 50-foot-tall, 786-white-cube SQUARED has been painstakingly constructed in recent days. But last night the fences surrounding the work were taken down, the lights are all tested, and the video below shows the first time SQUARED was turned on at Patricia’s Green.


The official SQUARED Opening Night Reception is not until Saturday, May 5 (“We’re going to have an eight-piece string quartet, classical music,” Gadeken tells SF Weekly. “Popcorn and cotton candy and lemonade.”) But the work gets a sort of soft opening on Friday, April 20 to illuminate your 4/20 while Gadeken perfects what he calls the lights’ “visual playlists” in advance of May’s opening reception.

The lighting is not ideal in the video above — for best results, visit after sundown — but you can see how the colors juxtapose, and at some special events viewers will be able to control the lights themselves. “We’re going to have interactivity for a lot of the different public events,” Gadeken tells us. “We’re just going to come down with an iPad and let people play with the tree. “

“We’re also going to announce on Twitter the weekends that have the interactivity so people can play with it at different times,” he says. (Keep on eye on the Gadeken Art Instagram feed too, which has some amazing behind-the-scenes images of how the squares all came together.)

SQUARED is often called ‘Burning Man art,’ but that’s only partially true. “It was built originally for Coachella, people keep getting that one wrong,” Gadeken tells SF Weekly. “There were two of them, it was called 2SQUARED. After Coachella [2014], one of them went to Burning Man. Then it went to Virginia at the Hermitage Museum, and now it’s here.”  

Gadeken’s work is a Burning Man staple, but his 2016 installation TABULA in Palo Alto is a permanent Bay Area installation with a 14-foot-by-165-foot video wall that does visual  interpretations of seismic data from the U.S. Geological Survey.

SQUARED will remain standing and juxtaposing colors nightly in Hayes Valley until May 2019, the culmination of support from the S.F. Arts Commission, Rec and Parks, and a huge volunteer effort. 

“There’s probably over a hundred folks over the years who have volunteered or worked on SQUARED in some capacity,” Gadeken says. “It’s a wonderful way to build community and make friendships. It’s something to do that’s more fun than going to the bars. Come to my shop and build art.”

The artist and legions of volunteers behind SQUARED encourage you to take all the photos and videos you want, and to tag them on social media with #SquaredSF.


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