New Artworks from Burning Man Installed in Downtown San José

The San José Office of Cultural Affairs and Burning Man Project celebrate the installation of the next artworks in the successful Playa to Paseo partnership.

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Following on the heels of the wildly successful light-art installation Sonic Runway by Rob Jensen and Warren Trezevant, the City of San José Office of Cultural Affairs and Burning Man Project are pleased to announce Ursa Mater by Mr. and Mrs. Ferguson, and Tara Mechani by Dana Albany as the next artworks in the Playa to Paseo program. Over the next three years, the Playa to Paseo partnership between the City of San José and Burning Man Project will site temporary artworks throughout San José as an invitation to play, engage, and participate in art-making city-wide.

In selecting artwork for the Playa to Paseo initiative, special attention is paid to highlighting artworks that represent the diversity of artworks at the annual Burning Man event, from the highenergy Sonic Runway to the whimsical Ursa Mater to the contemplative Tara Mechani. The next artworks in the series, Tara Mechani and Ursa Mater were highlights of the 2017 Burning Man event and the project partners are thrilled to bring them to downtown San José for the enjoyment of local audiences. Both works will be on display in San José through the spring.

“Ursa Mater,” by the Alameda-based art team Mr and Mrs Ferguson

Ursa Mater by Mr. and Mrs. Ferguson, is a 14-foot sculpture of a mother bear and her two cubs covered entirely in pennies. Ursa Mater is the 2nd penny bear created by the artist duo and the largest, covered in more than 205,000 pennies. The artists were assisted in the artwork’s creation by a team of 12 friends. Lisa Ferguson, who lived in Canada before meeting her husband Robert at Burning Man, was inspired to create artwork out of pennies when the Canadian government began phasing out the coin 2013. The penny’s durability appealed to Lisa, as did its metaphorical connection to her journey. Ursa Mater, like other artworks in the penny series is made of Canadian and U.S. coins. The predecessor to Ursa Mater, the penny covered grizzly bear Ursa Major will be on view starting March 30 at the Smithsonian as part of the exhibition, No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man. San José will be able to experience Ursa Mater in Paseo de San Antonio at Market Street by the Fairmont Hotel through the end of May.

Tara Mechani by Dana Albany is a figurative sculpture that entwines aspects of the ancient female Buddha, Tara, with characteristics of a futuristic female robot. Playing with the contemporary fascination with technology, the artwork infuses the mechanical with the compassion and empathy of the ancient deity. Tara Mechani challenges us to embrace the future without losing sight of past beauty and ancient wisdom. The sculpture’s art deco aesthetic is inspired by the robot Maria from the classic silent film Metropolis. Standing 17 feet high, Tara Mechani is created from non-traditional materials including recycled machine parts and has a custom chandelier lighting her chest and heart. Tara Mechani will be on view in Plaza de César Chavez Park through June 9, 2018.

“We are thrilled to present Ursa Mater and Tara Mechani to San José. It is our hope that residents and visitors will be inspired,” said Kerry Adams-Hapner, Director of the San José Office of Cultural Affairs.

Artist Bios
Dana Albany
Dana Albany is a multi-disciplinary artist who enjoys working with all mediums from metal to wood, glass to tile, salvaged to recycled materials, plastic to paper. Her distinctive body of work ranges from large installations to the very minute. She has created several installations for Burning Man and has also created and assisted in many public art installations in San Francisco, Sacramento, and Seattle.

Mr. and Mrs. Ferguson
Lisa and Robert Ferguson met at Burning Man in 2008, forming a lifetime commitment of the heart and collaborative partnership on large-scale art projects. Neither Lisa, a filmmaker, nor Robert, a welder, is a trained sculptor, but together they are able to execute large scale works inspired by the DIY ethos of Burning Man. The couple was married at Burning Man in 2011 and have been creating artwork with pennies since 2013. They are honored to have their latest piece Ursa Mater exhibited here in San José for the public to enjoy.

About Playa to Paseo
The partnership with the City of San José is intended to call forth to the San José artist community and invite participation in imagining the way that temporary art can invigorate public spaces across San José’s 180-square-mile landscape.

About Burning Man Project
Burning Man Project, a nonprofit organization, produces the annual Burning Man event in Black Rock City, and works year-round to extend and facilitate the culture that has grown from the event into the larger world. Burning Man Project provides inspiration, connection, education, and grants to a creative ecosystem of builders, makers, artists, and community leaders. Its work spans six interconnected program areas: Art, Education, Civic Involvement, Culture, Philosophical Center, and Social Enterprise. An ever-growing global network supports and furthers these efforts in 44 U.S. states and 37 countries around the world.

About the City of San José Office of Cultural Affairs
The City of San José recognizes that the arts and culture are essential elements in the character and quality of life in a vibrant community and seeks to ensure that San José is an effective hub of a wide array of arts and cultural opportunities throughout Silicon Valley. The Office of Cultural Affairs, a division of Economic Development in the City Manager’s Office, is the lead City of San José agency for stewarding a vibrant arts sector. It achieves this mission through public art and placemaking, arts funding, special event coordination, creative entrepreneur work-force development, cultural facility stewardship, and, among other items, cultural policy. Visit

About the City of San José
San José, Capital of Silicon Valley, is the largest city in Northern California and the 10th largest city in the nation, with an ethnically diverse population of more than one million. San José was founded in 1777, once served as the state capital of California, and encompasses 180 square miles. The City’s website is

West Coast Commercial Real Estate News