Local artist, crew are working on quite the timepiece

Art project headed to Burning Man
By: Chelsea Foster, Colfax Record Corresondent
-A +A
Colfax is coming alive with fire, steel and artistic expression on Sunday, June 5. The Fire & Steel Party will be hosted by Jim Bowers, artist and longtime resident of Colfax, as a fundraiser for the One Mile Clock Project. Bowers and a team of scientists and other artists are undertaking a monumental project by building the world’s largest functioning clock. The One Mile Clock will come together at the Burning Man festival at the end of August at Black Rock Desert in Nevada. Bowers said it will break the Guinness Book of World Records for the world’s largest timepiece. Bowers, a multimedia artist and longtime Burning Man attendee, has a history of creating large, collaborative works of art for the festival. “I came up with the idea for this clock about three or four years ago. The city where Burning Man is held is circular to begin with, and the streets have numbers on them. To turn the city into a clock, I really just have to create the hands and put them into motion,” Bowers explained. The clock will consist of 12 towers, each one measuring 22 feet high and six feet cubed at the base. A 40-foot radio tower with three high-powered lasers will create the ticking hands of the clock. Each tower will be decorated by artists from around the world, some of them local to Colfax, others from as far away as Africa. “I like to collaborate, work with other people. Everybody – I don’t care who it is ¬ has a spark of genius in them. You just have to tap into it,” Bowers said. Over 60 volunteers are working on the project, including software engineer Tim Black, laser researcher and physicist Russell Wilcox, inventor Brad Lindsey, and laser researcher, nuclear physicist and solar technology researcher Dan Pritchett. This “dream team” of scientists collaborating with artists and construction experts makes for a high-tech, imaginative display. Arlen Bodily, a contractor from Colfax, is the Tower Director in charge of all the design and development for the clock towers. He is enthusiastic about the results of the project and thinks it will be a hit at Burning Man. “There’s so much to see at Burning Man. It’s huge, because it’s just so huge. It’s easy to miss things. You always come away from it, and a friend mentions something really cool they saw but you missed. And you wish you had seen it,” Bodily said. “But everybody will see this. You can’t miss it. It’s one of the only projects that everyone is guaranteed to see, and it will be pretty spectacular.” As monumental as this project will be, it still needs funding to succeed. The Fire & Steel Party is being billed as an appropriately artistic and fun way to garner interest and funds for the project as well as bring some liveliness to Colfax. For a $20 donation at Basement Wines in downtown Colfax, guests will receive admission to the event, along with appetizers and two glasses of wine or beer. The Art Park on South Main Street will be transformed into a festival for the event, complete with live music at 6 p.m., fire spinners and other fire effects, a DJ from 8 to 10 p.m., vendors of locally made jewelry, and various food and drink booths. A prototype of the clock will also be on display at the park, so everyone can see the clock in action on a smaller scale. The classic cars and art cars that represent the steel aspect of the party are also sure to draw a crowd. Stephanie Huckins, a substitute teacher’s assistant who lives in Auburn but grew up in Colfax, is coordinating the Fire & Steel event. Huckins said art cars like the Berserker, Incognito and the Now-A-Saurus will likely be one of the standout attractions for guests. These modified vehicles have crazy features and effects that many will have never seen before. “The Now-A-Saurus shoots fire 15 feet in the air. It’s one of the more unique vehicles, even at Burning Man where there are a ton of these mutant vehicles. It won Editor’s Choice at the Burning Man Maker’s Fair this year,” Huckins said. Dressing up is encouraged, and there will be a playa-wear fashion show, featuring Burning Man attire. Bowers describes the best playa-wear as being very expressive. “There’s a lot of faux fur, hot pink, foot-tall platform boots, leather and lace. Sometimes it’s tribal, lots of feathers in the hair,” Bowers said. There will also be a silent auction at Basement Wines featuring art by Bowers and other local artists. “This is a great community event. We want to pull people in who love art, and Colfax is such a great place to have a festival. We want to bring some different art and flair into Colfax,” Huckins said. The emphasis of the Fire & Steel party is on the arts, but there are other fun activities and attractions designed to appeal to all ages. Children are welcome, though anyone under age 21 will be restricted to the outdoor area, where most of the activities take place. “This is not just an art festival,” Bowers said. “It’s a party for radical self-expression. All kinds of creativity goes into this, and it isn’t just for Burning Man attendees. I want regular families and the suit-and-tie guys to come and just have a blast.”