Karl the Fog
WELCOME was unveiled in 2022 and we went even bigger in 2023. The installation inspired an entire Summer of Awe series in 2023, with WELCOME being the inaugural event. We were joined by Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi, Senator Scott Weiner and Mayor London Breed, who all delivered an address during the official Grand Lighting Ceremony of WELCOME in 2023.
The installation debuted in 2022 to great fanfare, setting off celebrations up and down the length of Market Street. With a 49-foot width and a length exceeding four miles, the six beams (purple, blue, green, yellow, orange, red) constituted the world’s largest Pride flag. 2023 Plans called for 12 lasers, creating even more vibrancy throughout the 4.1 mile span to the top of Twin Peaks.
A pre-lighting event was also planned at the base of the installation at Harry Bridges Plaza (near the Ferry Building). DJ’s, circus performers, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, 10 Dykes on Bikes rumbling along The Embarcadero to deliver a magnificent “Rainbow Torch” for the lighting, and a human Pride flag made up of at least 120 people, are all part of the event. Once darkness falls, the Speaker Emerita and the Mayor fired up the laser space cannons one by one to complete the installation.
We stand on the shoulders of all the artists who came before us – to share the message of inclusion and celebrate the rainbow flag which belongs to everyone!
- Gilbert Baker – Baker first created the Rainbow Flag with a collective in 1978. He chose to keep the symbol accessible to all by refusing to trademark it, seeing it as a symbol that was to be enjoyed for the entire LGBT community. In 1979, Baker began work at Paramount Flag Company in San Francisco, Baker designed displays for Dianne Feinstein, the Premier of China, the presidents of France, Venezuela, and the Philippines, the King of Spain, and many others. Today this is the most common variant of the rainbow flag, with the red stripe on top, as in a natural rainbow. The various colors came to reflect both the immense diversity and the unity of the LGBTQ community.
- Sea-to-Sea Rainbow – In 2003 Gilbert Baker, creator of the original rainbow flag that remains the international symbol of the LGBTQ community, worked with a volunteer team to construct a 1.25-mile long rainbow flag in Key West that is believed to be the world’s longest. Pride 2023’s undisputed highlight is to be a three-night laser light show that recreates the flag above Key West’s Duval Street, with its colors once again stretching the nearly 1.25-mile length of the renowned thoroughfare. Visitors can walk “under the rainbow” to express their support for diversity, equality and acceptance.
- Yvette Mattern – The Global Rainbow installation beams seven rays of high specification laser light, representing the spectrum of the seven colors of the rainbow. The artist had been inspired by seeing an unusual rainbow in a beautiful spot at ‘Walden Pond’ in Massachusetts. Global Rainbow has been presented over ten times since 2009.
- Laserworld AG – For the 20th anniversary of Rainbow International GmbH in 2012, Laserworld set up an outdoor laser light show displaying a total of seven single laser beams set in rainbow colors, which were projected over the city of Aalen, Germany for one week. The colorful rainbow display symbolized Rainbow International’s franchise success over the past several years.
To all Light Artists who are pioneers of the industry, such as Leo Villareal, Olafur Eliason, Mary Corse, Anthony McCall, Keith Sonnier, and many more, Illuminate thanks you for the inspiration you create daily and the art you share with the world.
Harry Bridges Plaza