Burning Man piece installed in Tahoe City

“Ursa Mater” Robert & Lisa Ferguson | Heritage Plaza, Tahoe City

Tahoe Public Art is unveiling its first installation of the Tahoe Public Art Trail, “Ursa Mater,” in Heritage Plaza in Tahoe City on Aug. 2 from noon to 2 p.m. “Ursa Mater” is part of a series of public art exhibits that will be displayed around the Tahoe Basin in public, private and resort locations throughout the year.

WATCH how the artwork is created

“Ursa Mater” is a 12-foot high structure featuring a mother bear and two cubs, made of 200,000 discontinued Canadian pennies and newly minted U.S. pennies that give the bears a furry copper look. Created by Robert and Lisa Ferguson, “Ursa Mater” made its debut at Burning Man and was temporarily featured in downtown San Jose.

“Ursa Mater” is the first of 12 sites that Tahoe Public Art has secured around the lake for the Art Trail. The organization chose Heritage Plaza in Tahoe City as its next location because it was an underutilized space. The piece will be exhibit through July 2019.

“We look forward to activating Heritage Plaza as an ongoing site on the Tahoe Public Art Trail, with a series of artist talks and environmental education series in the outdoor amphitheater right next to the art installation site,” says Tahoe Public Arts executive director Mia Hanak.

TPA plans on adding to the Art Trail with an installation at the Sherwood chairlift at Alpine Meadows ski area this winter. The nonprofit is also talking to California Tahoe Conservancy about introducing temporary art structures from South Lake Tahoe to Carnelian Bay in the following year.

Tahoe Regional Planning Agency will only allow temporary installations around the Tahoe Basin, so pieces on the Art Trail will only be up for six to 12 months at a time.

“It makes the Art Trail more dynamic by rotating art between the different sites that we have secured,” Hanak says. “It’s like an outdoor museum with constantly new curated art.”

One of the planned Art Trail pieces includes “Laka’Lelup,” a floating art installation with interactive technologies that has been in the works for two years.” Laka’Lelup” is scheduled to tour all four shores of Lake Tahoe from July through September 2019.

“I’m very passionate about the ‘Laka’Lelup’ installation due to the collaboration with all of the local organizations and the visual data that it includes,” says Hanak.

Another one of her favorite installations is the Tahoe Timescape project by conceptual artist and experimental philosopher Jonathon Keats.

Keats is planning to capture the next 1,000 years of what the Tahoe Basin will look like through a single photograph using millennium pinhole capture cameras. In a process called Deep Time photography that was first introduced in the 18th Century, the project aims to capture environmental change from fixed vantage points around the Basin from 2018 to 3018.

Keats will be leading a workshop with SNC art students this fall and will conduct two artist’s talks in conjunction with a conceptual Tahoe Timescape art exhibit to be displayed inside SNC’s Prim Library this fall. He will be prompting the students and the public to ask themselves what the Tahoe Basin will look like in the next 50, 100 and 1,000 years.

“Will there be water in the lake? What will the trees look like?” Hanak asks.

The four millennium cameras around the Basin can be located using the Citizen Science Tahoe app.

“I’m excited about it because it encourages people to go out and take a hike and envision what they think Tahoe will look like over time. It will be interesting to see the interpretation of the future of Lake Tahoe,” Hanak says.

TPA will launch an open call for artists in September with site-specific details regarding the Art Trail. It has received 50 responses so far for consideration of upcoming exhibits.

Preliminary TPA Public Art Trail locations include Tahoe City, Lake Forest, Tahoe Vista, Kings Beach, Incline Village, Sand Harbor, Skunk Harbor, Zephyr Cove, South Lake Tahoe, Meeks Bay and Homewood. | tahoepublicart.com