I have long driven by the sheds off Copeland Street and wondered what went in there. Occasionally, I would see the Goodwill trailer accepting donations or a man selling used stuff from his storage unit.
But for the past year, one of these corrugated metal warehouses has been converted into a paint-and-glue splattered artist studio, where Petaluma photographer Michael Garlington has been elbow-deep into his newest project.
There, the 35-year-old artist, known for his macabre and surreal black and white photographs as well as the funky photo van he drives around town, is building three 20-foot tall sculptures that together spell the word “EGO.”
In August, the installation pieces—adorned with plaster babies, birds, saints, books and horses and spray painted gold—will make the 320 mile journey to Burning Man, the counter culture festival in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.
Then at the end of the eight-day event, the gilded structure will be burned, a spectacular and fiery symbol of the impermanence of life.
“The word ego means something different to everybody,” says Garlington, when asked about the idea behind the piece. “And the cool thing about this is even after it’s burned, it will leave behind relics for people to pick up and take away with them.”
The concept behind EGO comes from Laura Kimpton, a Nicasio artist and heiress to the Kimpton hotel and restaurant chain. Kimpton has built numerous large installations for Burning Man in the past as well as multi-media pieces made of the debris of everyday life—like a bird covered in buttons and toys or a forest of metallic trees shooting out flames.
So after Kimpton gave Garlington the idea and commissioned the project earlier this year, Garlington went to work, creating plaster replicas and attaching them onto the towering sculpture while fellow artist Jonny Hirschmugl built the skeleton of the piece, using recycled plywood and other materials to build a canvas.
If you want to check out EGO, you don’t necessarily have to travel to Burning Man (tickets are sold out anyway, sorry!). Garlington and Hirschmugl will be opening up their warehouse to the public during the Rivertown Revival Festival, held on Saturday, July 21.
Know someone interesting who deserves our attention? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.