10.21.2015

The Bay Lights Grand Re-lighting Ceremony Planned for January 30, 2016

Iconic light sculpture will return for Super Bowl 50 and beyond

San Francisco (October 22, 2015)— Re-installation of the monumental LED sculpture, The Bay Lights, began this week on the western span of the San Francisco Bay Bridge. Crews are connecting the strands of new, more resilient LEDs to the cables each night. Thanks to generous private donors and an agreement between the non-profit Illuminate the Arts and Bay Bridge officials, the artwork will be re-lit on January 30, 2016 in time to shine for Super Bowl 50 and beyond—at least the next 10 years.

Created by artist Leo Villareal, The Bay Lights became a beloved global icon during its initial two-year installation. A must-see attraction for visitors and locals alike, the sculpture drew international praise and had significant economic impact on the region.

The original permit that Illuminate (formerly Illuminate the Arts) received for The Bay Lights expired on March 6, 2015 and the sculpture was removed to allow Caltrans to perform maintenance on the cables. The non-profit arts organization successfully raised $4 million in private funds in November and December 2014 to pay for new equipment and re-installation of the artwork.

“Two years is a good, long run for a piece of public art,” said artist Leo Villareal. “I am personally very satisfied with the experience and embrace the temporary aspects of the artwork. At the same time, I am humbled and honored that the people of the Bay Area have overwhelmingly expressed their interest in having the light sculpture remain and become part of their daily lives. There is no higher compliment you can pay a work of art than wanting to spend time with it.”

Bay Area philanthropist Tad Taube helped Illuminate reach its fundraising goal by stepping forward with a challenge grant of $2 million. This pivotal gift inspired matching gifts, increased visibility of the need for support and created real momentum.

“The Bay Lights enriches San Francisco’s beauty and majesty, as well as that of our extraordinary San Francisco Bay,” said Tad Taube, chairman of Taube Philanthropies. “I am proud of and grateful to our fellow citizens for joining us in ensuring this magnificent work of art remains a part of our city.”

After the re-lighting, the artwork will be gifted to the State of California for ongoing stewardship. Following the precedent of the necklace lights that were added to the suspension cables in 1986 and became a fixture of the Bay Bridge in 1989, The Bay Lights will become a permanent part of the western span, maintained by Caltrans. Leo Villareal’s masterwork of public art will lift the gaze and spirits of Bay Area residents and visitors for generations to come.

“The Bay Lights would not exist without the ever-expanding constellation of believers that made it possible,” said Illuminate Chief Visionary Officer Ben Davis. “We are profoundly grateful for the support of so many people, including our generous private patrons, our hardworking technical team, and the dedicated people at Caltrans, the City and County of San Francisco, and the Bay Area Toll Authority. The Bay Lights is an act of community love. Together we have elevated public art to a higher consciousness.”

For more information about The Bay Lights, visit www.illuminate.org.