Apogaea 2013

What an amazing year with incredible community, art, and experiential opportunity!  Every year the art grants have increased, but in 2013, it jumped to $30,000!   The Effigy (Blossom) finally burned – and burned beautifully – after waiting from the year prior due to a burn ban.

In 2013:

»View the WhoWhatWhenWhere Guide
»View the 2013 Placement Map

Art, Camps & Things

1st Round Art Grant Projects

The first round grants are usually $300 – $3000+

Alchemical Elevation

“Alchemical Elevation will consist of 4 8′ tall gold and purple podiums, decorated with alchemical symbols topped with 6′ helium-filled weather balloons. The balloons will be tethered to the tastefully backlit podiums with powered 2000lb winches for safety and elevation control. The 4 balloons will each have one of the symbols of the four elements painted on them, and will each contain a wireless LED light that will cause the balloons to glow brightly and change color throughout the night. The LED lights will react to the music of Panopolis, beckoning travelers from near and far to our metropolis of low frequency sound. ”

»Check out the Alchemical Elevation, YouTube Link, and Photo page
»Project Lead: Nathan Lappegaard

Altar of Prometheus

A giant’s face, 8 feet by 5 feet, pushes out of the ground.  Fire erupts from his mouth as he breathes, and molten metal pours like tears from his eyes.  Two altars crown the head, with bookshelves and reading lounges.

»Project Lead: Nathan Harris

Arbor Borialis 2.0

“This project is the culmination of 4 years of hard work and creative drive. Arbor Borealis will be beefed up, larger and more interactive.

The installation will encourage play, relaxation, reflection and exploration. Most importantly our goal is to encourage interaction between participants. As all participants’ verbal, instrumental and spatial disturbances meld together into a beautiful cacophony, our hope is that folks will laugh and find a connection to each other.It will be a more interactive version of our project last year.”

»Check out the video and Arbor Borealis website for more info
»Project Lead: Aaron Wilson

Burn Your Brain

“Explore this giant playa brain by walking underneath it. Many hidden interactive elements are hidden within the brain lobe walls. Can you find them all?

All week, participants can explore the brain, dance to the music, play the instruments inside or let the wind do the playing for you, and enjoy the shade it offers.  On the last day of Apogaea, we will deconstruct the interactive elements inside, leaving the base of brain lobes and lights.  Participants are encouraged to return during that day and express themselves using the markers and chalk provided, or by coming up with their own unique addition to the brain that will travel to Black Rock City in August to burn.”

»Check out the Burn Your Brain Kickstarter Page to learn more!
»Project Lead: Stephanie Adams

Dinos for Life!

For sometime now, it has been publicly known that I love dinosaurs, and over the last few years my dinosaur collection has grown to be quite the spectacle. So in creating Dinos for Life, I not only want to bring my entire dinosaur collection to share with the community but also offer a space where people can come and share their dinosaur costumes, art, food, experiences, or any kind of love for the Jurassic era.

In a gesture to encourage the community’s interaction with Dinos for Life, I plan to create two life sized “party-sauruses” to welcome and intrigue people. These giant party-sauruses will be about 15 ft tall and will be in inflated with a bounce house blower. They will be lit on the inside with string lights.

I would like for people of all ages to interact with the party-sauruses and take pictures with them, hug them, or go past them and explore the rest of Dinos for Life.

»Project Lead: Lauren Newell

DIY Interactive Electronics

“Electric art is has been a growing trend at Apogaea, and many people in our community want to learn to make their own electronic creations.  This will be a workshop that guides participants through building their own small piece of interactive electronic art, and provide them with a path for learning more. The workshop will be accessible for complete newbies, as well as participants with some amount of electronics experience.

A small printed circuit board (PCB) will be designed and tested by me (John English), specifically for this event.   It can be programmed to act like a min-Sound Reactive Flower, so that the LEDs respond to beats and whistles and voice. The core design principal of this board is to use existing and easy to use open-source technology that encourage participants to explore and learn more.

After Apogaea, participants can continue to program and modify the PCBs they’ve built, using the widely available open-source Arduino software. The source code and design files for the board will be available online under and open license.”

»Check out for more information
»Project Lead: John English  (Sound Puddle)


“This will be the ultimate Sparkle Pony! A 5-foot carousel horse transformed into the magical unicorn it was always meant to be. Covered in mirror glass and LED lights for that special experience you have always wanted from a unicorn.  The unicorn will have a custom made saddle produced out of a fabulous fabric.

It will be interactive as people of all ages can climb on it like and finally ride a unicorn like they have always dreamed about. ”

»Project Lead: Brian Meinken

G.N.O.M.E. Project: Gnomes Need Out More Everyday!

“Participants in this family-friendly, Center Camp workshop, will receive a 3” gnome of their very own to paint and take home. Don’t turn the gnomes into MOOP! Take them home with you!”   The grant helped pay for materials to make and paint the gnome molds.  

“Join me at Center Camp Friday morning at 10am-12:30pm and paint yourself a gnome!”

»Project Lead: Jennifer Dale


This installation is a 20 foot luminous jellyfish tree growing out of the ground.  By night  it pulses and ripples with juicy light across and down it’s toroidal skeletal structure then the light cascades down into its tendrils creating a fully immersive experience when you step inside the jellys belly.  Each of the tendrils of the jellyfish are reactive and if you touch the tendrils, they will retract as the tendrils are touched, it creates a sound like an extraterrestrial harp.

The tendrils will also flow in the wind, which will trigger them as well creating a very beautiful and serene windchime effect.   The jellyfish is basically a large  interactive 3-dimensional LED display , and it will be programmed to do all kinds of beautiful and eloquent 3d ripples and waves making it look like the jellyfish is floating and swimming in the ocean.

By stepping inside this living glowing sea creature you are literally transported to another world;  it creates a contained field of light and sound, and will encourage play, exploration, and a sense of childlike wonder.”

»Project Lead: Brian Pinkham

People Catcher

“The People catcher exists as a relaxation and spiritual center, as an unconventional piece of art, and most importantly, to bring out the inner child of those who wish to play on it! We also believe that the People Catcher will be quite romantic at night.

It will look essentially like a giant dream catcher tilted at a 40 degree angle. We also expect to decorate the dreamcatcher with colored rope, feathers created from (to prevent MOOP), and creatively placed EL wire for light during the nighttime.

We want people to climb all over our art until they’re having more fun than they know what to do with.  The People Catcher encourages participation from people of all ages during all times of the day and night. The People Catcher inspires spiritual reflection, as the dreamcatcher is, for many people, a symbol of spirituality, and it also inspires a playful spirit! ”

»Project Lead: Kathleen Kelly

Play Camp

“The camp is designed to have a lot of interaction in the community. I want people to laugh & play with all the toys & games available to them. The front part of the camp where the toys & games are should be accessible to the passerby & encourage interaction. It inspires adults to play like kids, make new friends & participate in group fun activities!  I would also like to do a workshop with the children during apo on sock puppet making, so they get to be creative & have fun!”

»Project Lead: Cassie Byrd

Prima Materia

Prima Materia, a twelve-foot tall sculpture of an ouroboros fabricated of recycled metalwork and light panels, contains a poofer and/or laser array that exits through the mouth designed for Apogaea.

“From The Collected Works of C.G Jung: The alchemists, who in their own way knew more about the nature of the individuation process than we moderns do, expressed this paradox through the symbol of the Ouroboros, the snake that eats its own tail. The Ouroboros has been said to have a meaning of infinity or wholeness. In the age-old image of the Ouroboros lies the thought of devouring oneself and turning oneself into a circulatory process, for it was clear to the more astute alchemists that the prima materia of the art was man himself. The Ouroboros is a dramatic symbol for the integration and assimilation of the opposite, i.e. of the shadow. This ‘feed-back’ process is at the same time a symbol of immortality, since it is said of the Ouroboros that he slays himself and brings himself to life, fertilizes himself and gives birth to himself. He symbolizes the One, who proceeds from the clash of opposites, and he therefore constitutes the secret of the prima materia which […] unquestionably stems from man’s unconscious.”

I hope to capture the essence of these feelings into a sculpture of an ouroboros  […]

With the ability of the festival attendees to use the poofer, and the incorporation of the sculpture in the conclave performance, I hope to give each person a chance to interact with Prima Materia. This breadth of interaction will attempt to inspire participants that the great work of individuation, in which lead is transformed into gold, is a quest that never ends, and, with a bit of luck, encourages dreams of their own.”

»Check out the Prima Materia Facebook page to learn more!
»Project Lead: Veronica Rivard

Sentinels of Panopolis

“The Sentinels of Panopolis is a distributed installation that consists of 6 standing pieces roughly 6′ tall and 4′ wide and a large entrance. 6 of standing pieces create a boundary around a courtyard area, with a center piece of symbolizing fire.

6 Sentinels:  The 6 Sentinels will be created using sheets of plywood cut in to the symbols of Alchemy (fire, water, air, earth, terra, and creation). The paint will be colored matched to a custom programmed lighting system so that each change of color produces a unique design on each Sentinel. 

The Doorway of Life:  The Doorway of Life is a grand entranceway to Panopolis.  The shape of the entrance models the traditional symbols of alchemy, Life and Death. Much like in the real world; you begin your journey by entering life and you end your journey with death.

This installation will be part of another series of installations for our theme camp, Panopolis.  Panopolis is a group effort of many Apogaea veterans such as Whomp Truck and A.S.S.  This installation will be used to create the sense of enclosure when in our camp, to provide a more ‘village’ feel.”

»Fundraiser Event Link
»Project Lead: Benjamin Travis

Space Camp

Space Camp has always provided a bar of some sort.  However, this year we wanted to provide a more interactive and memorable experience.

[We] desire to bring better constructed, longer lasting, and more interactive art pieces to Apogaea.  We are hoping that the time and effort we put into this project will inspire others to create beautiful things.  During the day we will be serving refreshments, cocktails, and snacks and at night is when the bar comes to life.  Showered with laser beams and covered with LEDs, the bar top will impress all.

»Project Lead: Ryan C Smith

String Theory Dome: Alchemist Den

String theory dome will be similar to previous builds. Besides the UV string and fiber optics I will have 1/4′ tubing to be strung up in a new web. Different color florescent water dye will be pumped through the tubing  to make it UV reactive.  Added to the dye will be rheoscopic fluid so one can see fluid moving through the tube.

»See the String Theory YouTube Video
»Project Lead: Alan McBee

The Blossom Effigy Remodel

This is the beautiful Blossom Effigy from 2012 that will be back in full force for 2013.  Somer will be adding flame effects and repairing the existing structure.

»Check out the effigy blog post from 2013!
»What is the Effigy?
»Project Lead: Somer Andom

The Cabana Club @ Apogaea

“The Cabana Club was born on the playa in 2010. After many years of operating as The Black Rock Diner, our group was ready to try something new.  “Why not just make that our shift?” We thought. And, the BRC Cabana Club was born!

We will create a tropical oasis for the community every afternoon along with great music, food, cocktails, performance art & healers. We’ve been told that we’re a favorite destination on the playa and hope to become the same for Apo. Our camp will include structure from the BRC Cabana Club, Mallurd Wedding Camp (Apo 2011) and Elemental Mind (Decompression 2012). We will be open to new and veteran burners.”

We are open from 3-6 PM every day Wed-Sat serving beats, grilled cheese sandwiches, tropical cocktails and performance art to the Apo Community!

»The Cabana Club @ Apogaea Facebook Group
»Project Lead: Sante Suffoletta

The Kentucky Derby

“The Kentucky Derby is an interactive art/activity installation for all ages, which is meant to resemble a smaller version of Churchill Down, the home of the Kentucky Derby.

We have 3 equine, mighty steeds that are 2.5 feet tall hobby horses which can move around a flat surface when the rider posts.  The race track will be the main stage/center point for this event. The track will encircle a lounge area called “The Greens” in which observers can sit and watch the races in a grassy area.  Unless we find space to store the track, the track will be de-assembled and donated to Habitat for Humanity or to Boulder Resource.”

Saturday is Derby Day.   At 12:30pm, we march Apo and sing our own version of “Old Kentucky Home,” then at 1:00 the races begin.  Show off your Big Derby Hats AND don’t forget to bring schwag for betting at our “Derby Betting Tables” – Winner takes all.

Wanted: 9 jockeys for the big race on Saturday. If you are interested in being a jockey, come to the track and ask for a “time trial”.  The 9 fastest riders will advance to the Kentucky Derby.  On Derby Day our jockeys will draw for their position and the name of their steed. There will be 3 heats then the final race for the rose blanket.

»Kentucky Derby Facebook page
»Kentucky Derby Fundraiser Link
»Project Lead: Cynthia G Van Lingen

The Living Room

“We are so excited to prepare for and bring it to Apogaea 2013. We built our camp for the first time, last year, with member contributions alone and while it came together, the art grant [will] allow us to build a much more sturdy and sound structure and enhance the effect of the space with extra decoration, seating, lighting and video art.

Somewhere around/in the Living Room will be 2 simple but smart interactive video art pieces, using old camcorders/TVs. The interior will be fully decorated and we’ll bring a bookshelf full of reading material and games.

We’ll have a small sound system, and generally like to play funk, rock, hiphop and reggae during the day, and house and techno at night.  We’ll again be doing community meals and potlucks during the day, and are planning a kid-friendly daytime activity as well. ”

»The Living Room Facebook Page
»Project Lead: Miles Hurwitz

The Story Portal

The Story Portal aims to connect individuals to the vast world of shared experience through spontaneous and true storytelling. The concept is simple: spin the wheel and tell us a true story about the topic you receive.

»The Story Portal Kickstarter
»Project Lead: Robert Rhu

Unicorn Playhouse!

Why would alchemists aim for boring gold when they can aim for many more valuable things, like friendship, play, fun, amazement, beauty health and relaxation?  Multi-level platforms, swings, hammocks, aerial apparatuses, nets and ropes join with a rainbow of shade, flags and lights to form a magical playhouse for all ages and abilities.

»Unicorn Playhouse Blog
»Project Lead: Ian Bates

 2nd Round Art Grant Projects

2nd round grants are capped at $300 per project

Dr. Paracelsus’ Mystical Invocation

“We plan to suspend the art from a wire hung between two trees.  This year the art will be much bigger spanning 100′ wide and going to 45′ high.  The circle symbol in the middle is an alchemist’s symbol for the earth element.  Ancient legend indicates armies of Gnomes insure the stability of Earth. As their name suggests, Gnomes are the ones with the power knowledge of the Earth. As such, ancient mystics called upon Gnomes as an invocation of the properties of Earth in ritual.

Dr. Paracelsus is considered “”Prince of the Alchemists”” and was the first person to write about gnomes.

The light art installation will be interactive in that clapping will turn some of the lights on or off.  Also, pieces of the installation can be spun or moved to create a different effect.

The goal is that the installation will always be changing throughout the festival so that it will never look the same.  ”

»Project Lead: Kevin Johnson

ERUPTION: The Second Cumming

“Camp eruption was at Apogaea in 2011 and in 2012 we were repeatedly asked by attendees to bring the camp back. Eruption is a 20 foot volcano with a DJ stage built into the center. We also have a stripper pole that was very popular in 2011. We will be giving away keg beer in the evenings.

Camp Eruption will include a mutant vehicle known as the Purple Parasite. It can carry up to eight passengers and has been to Apogaea every year since 2010. Designed to approximately represent a purple and yellow mutant parasite, EL wire decorates the overhead antennae and sculpted sheet metal modifies the nose of the vehicle to resemble a space age mechanical parasite. The Purple Parasite also serves as the support vehicle for the Purple Palace at Burning Man.”

»Project Lead: Kira Sadler

Eye of Solaris

Using a clear shower curtain and some wood framing, the sun is focused through a pool of water to cook breakfast, pop popcorn, burn paper offerings, create wood burnt art pieces, heat stones, melt metals, warm water for showers, and generally amaze people.  The structure will be decorated with fire and water-themed accouterments and colors, and provide shade on two sides.  This is a daytime Interaction designed to add to the “somewhat limited” daytime activities at Apo.

»Project Lead: Robert Meredith


The Grumpolith team is really excited. Our project (almost) reached full funding on our Indiegogo campaign, but we have enough to make it happen big! We are looking forward to the Internet Meme Parade and the make-your-own Grumpy Cat Mask workshop on Thursday. 2 Girls 1 Camp will also be distributing cups at our Happy Hour events on Friday and Saturday. We hope to bring much degrumpification to Apogaea.

»Grumpolith Facebook Page
»Project Lead: Erin O’Brien

Hidden Retreat

“Hidden Retreat is a quiet place to get away from the techno music, wild parties and craziness of the rest of Apogaea. Choose from one of three peaceful spaces located in the trees, all within close proximity of each other. Comfy blankets and pillows beckoning you to take off your shoes, sit down, relax and breathe. There, beautiful fabrics, garlands, crystals and wind chimes floating from trees will entertain your eyes and ears (if you aren’t napping already). At night the trees and ground are lit up with soft lights. This will be a secret space to nap, relax, journal, create, have conversations, do yoga, meditate, or hold a ceremony.

We will work with the Apo registration team to identify workshops and classes that may be a good fit for the space. We anticipate that meditation, yoga and small group massage gatherings may be good matches for the energy of the Hidden Retreat.”

»Hidden Retreat Fundraiser Page
»Project Lead: Kim Fiore

High Fructose Porn Syrup Live Printing

“We will design four posters and screen print one per night at Apogaea. We will print on small squares of cloth, creating portable patches of artwork to be given with love. We plan on printing in various camps each night at Apogaea and designing our posters with each camp in mind.

We intend these prints to be small but valuable gifts to the community that gave us so much last year, and promises to again this year. We will have optional safety pins so that the textiles can be used immediately as patches or flags.”

»Learn more at
»Project Lead: Maximilian Shiffman

Hoop It Forward

Black tubing hula hoops pre-made.  Multicolor tapes.  Funky beats playing while people are decorating hoops

»Friday,  July 7, Noon – 2pm at the F%*#ing Unicorn Camp
»Project Lead: TR

Kid’s Alchemy Workshop

“Using the proper mixing and quantity of white glue, sodium borate, water and food coloring, slime magically emerges! This recipe is non-toxic, but it’s also not meant to be edible. Baggies will be provided to store slime when it’s not in use and to keep it from becoming MOOP.

This is 100% participatory.  Actual recipe: 1st bowl, mix ¼ cup glue ¼ cup water + food coloring, 2nd bowl mix ¼ cup water + ½ tsp. borax (mix for 1.5 – 2 minutes). Pour glue mix into borax mix, stir until completely polymerized. This is the suggested recipe for Apo: no moop/grey water. Alternate options only if a participant is alchemically curious and wants to see what else might happen if… Otherwise, we plan on the advised recipe for all participants. ”

»Project Lead: Yana Nightingale

Lady Baby Cave

The concept we are working with, is a cave with one  side that will be open and visible.  The whole installation will be made out of recycled plastic bags.   This is a very non-moopy recycled installation. The floor, walls, and ceiling are going to be illuminated with color.  In the walls there are windows, or negative space, that will be filled with “String Theory Dome” string.  In the cave, there will be stalactites and stalagmites made out of clear plastic throughout the space. They will have flexible LED lights, which will be woven in them, and  hooked up to a controller with sound sensitive capabilities. Therefore, these formations will have an interactive quality.  In addition there will also be a hammock constructed from plastic bags that can be hung up outside the installation for people to play, relax, and swing!

The goal of this space is to be comfortable, entertaining, fun, and interactive. The light table and sand will be set up as a glow-in-the-dark Zen sand garden which will also be interactive. During the day this space can be used as a place of meditation, relaxation, and yoga! During the night it will transform into an entertaining space where people can interact with the “formations” using sound, or with the tactile texture of the bags/sand and party!

»Project Lead: Mary K. McDonald

Laughs at Your Back

“From a conversation many years ago with our beloved Maquette, it was observed that there are many distinctive laughs within our community (including hers, lol), and that it would be fun to make a cuddle pile of all these laughs that one could fall into and be surrounded by those happy sounds of those we love and appreciate. After all these years, I’d like to bring that “”wouldn’t it be cool”” idea to fruition, creating a community-binding alchemy of magic and love from the happy sounds of recognizable laughter.

This grant is for creating 20+ individual hand-sewn pillows that each contain a sound module with a 10-20 second recording of a distinctive laugh belonging to a member of our community. Putting them all together in a cuddle / chill space, and one can fall into a chorus of laughter as a celebration of our unique community.

During the event, an interactive station will be set up for people to “”guess”” who the pillow laughs belong to, with a final reveal on the Sunday of the event. “”Winners”” will get a gift- perhaps even a pillow of their very own!!

It will be softly lit for a relaxing and rejuvenating environment that can be dropped into 24hrs a day by all ages of participants.”

»Project Lead: Robyn Broyden

The Cloud II

“I’m going to build a second inflatable. It’ll be like the first, but hopefully bigger or shaped like an actual cloud. (Last year it was more of a silver pillow…). Kids loved it and will love it more…”

»Project Lead: Heidi Neubauer-Winterburn

The Small World Turtle

“My project is a smallish sculpture of a turtle carrying a bowl on his back.  In the bowl is a pond with a central island.  On the island, a bonsai tree.  The turtle itself stands on a stump of a larger tree.

It is an illustration of the world turtle concept, tweaked, and made to stand for our modern world.  There are a number of worlds encapsulated by the sculpture that you’ll discover as you observe it.  The whole project a metaphor for our interlocking states of being.  Our circles of friends encompassed by a community, gathered within a city- on and on.

The turtle will be placed on a central stump, surrounding it, I will place several other stumps to invite contemplation.   I envision it as a treasure in the trees, something you stumble upon and then treasure as one of your favorite experiences.”

»Project Lead:  Tom Varani

Tramp Camp

Tramp Camp is a very interactive awesome theme camp where people of all ages can let there inner child come out!  This theme camp / Art installation is a 14 foot dia. jumpable trampoline thats extended 8 feet tall.  It also acts as a giant tent as people can gather underneath and be amused with 3D glasses, blacklights and colorful collaborative art drawing boards.  We would like to see Tramp Camp along one of the main roads close to the center of excitement!

»Project Lead: Dan Mathisen

VagaLumes, The Wandering Lights

This project is meant primarily as an evening art installation.  It consists of 75 fireflies constructed out of recycled, and scrap material wired with blinking LED’s.  The fireflies will be best viewed from the comfort of the swing provided.  The fireflies will hang from the trees as well as be captured in large jars.  They are incredibly interesting to look at as they are all individual and unique sculptures.  Their lights will all be timed to blink intermittently capturing the essence and feeling of true fireflies.

Every evening at dusk we will host firefly happy hour where participants will be encouraged to adopt a firefly and modify/ take it with them.

»Project Lead: Andrea Pliner

Vandalize VAN gogh

“Betty exists to bring color and happiness to the world! Whether she’s being bedazzled at a burn or turning heads roaming around Denver, you can’t help but smile when you see her rainbow. As a canvas, she provides a forum for free expression and the chance to wildy spray paint a default world icon like a crazy vandal.

It will look like… well like a bunch of people going crazy with paint all over a van! Tarps down so we leave no trace, a table with paints, masks, gloves, stencils and other supplies, ambient music for inspiration, and an ice tea station to cool off between painting sessions.

It’s all about interaction and participation! Children and adults are welcome. We’ll operate the painting during the day, and have Betty lit up at night for admiring the day’s work . It inspires complete freedom of expression and the chance to be a graffiti artist for a day—for experienced artists as well as novices.”

»Check out Vandalize VAN gogh pictures
»Project Lead: Cora Palmer

Whale-y the Whale

“I will be wearing blue body paint, holding a megaphone, and wearing an old, blue sleeping bag that will be show my face and allow my arms to be exposed. I will also have a cardboard tail and flippers. There will be a sign on my back reading “Ask a whale…” With the megaphone, I will be making whale noises, which I have been told I’m very good at doing.”

»Project Lead: Guy Mason