(Express)

At Burning Man, the week-long countercultural festival held every summer in the Nevada desert, 70,000 revelers are either making art or traversing the event’s 5 square miles to check it out. They ride funkily decorated bicycles to eclectic sculptures and large-scale art installations that revolve around themes like “radical ritual.” “Being outside, and being able to move around from piece to piece, is part of the experience,” says Nora Atkinson, who curated the Renwick Gallery’s “No Spectators” exhibits. “You see these things in the distance and then you head toward them, and by the time you’ve reached them, you’ve already been engaging with these works, which is so different than a gallery experience where you just walk in.” The Renwick hopes to replicate that experience with “No Spectators.” In addition to the exhibit inside, Atkinson and the museum have partnered with the Golden Triangle Business Improvement District to display six art installations from past Burning Man festivals in parks and neighborhoods in the District’s Golden Triangle area. “No Spectators: Beyond the Renwick” lasts through December. Here’s what you’ll see if you skip the line for the museum and stick around outside. (Click the map above for a closer look at locations)


“Golden Spike” (Ellen Collier/Express)

1. ‘Golden Spike’ by HYBYCOZO
Connecticut Avenue median at Connecticut Avenue and K Street NW
Yelena Filipchuk and Serge Beaulieu, the duo known as HYBYCOZO, are the only artists featured in both the indoor and outdoor components of the Renwick’s Burning Man exhibit. “Golden Spike” is a glowing, three-dimensional shape with the kind of laser-cut designs “iconic to Burning Man,” Atkinson says. It pays homage to the first official act of each Burning Man festival: driving a spike into the desert floor. “After dusk, it’s like this piece is constantly changing with the light,” Atkinson says. “All of the cutouts become positive space and the rest become negative space, and I really like the way it has this constant shifting presence. It’s rich.”


“Maya’s Mind” (Marvin Joseph / The Washington Post)

2. ‘Maya’s Mind’ by Mischell Riley
17th Street NW between H and I streets
The real-life Maya Angelou was an inarguably tall 6 feet. At Burning Man, she looms even taller. Riley’s sculpture features a 20-foot bust of Angelou atop a stack of books that doubles as a staircase visitors can climb. There’s also an audio recording that recites excerpts of her poem “Still I Rise.” The 6,000-pound work debuted at Burning Man last year. Riley, one of the best-known artists at the festival, plans to create a series of monuments that celebrate women like Jane Goodall and Amelia Earhart.


“Future’s Past” (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

3. ‘Future’s Past’ by Kate Raudenbush
Southeast corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and I Street NW
The 23-foot-tall laser-cut steel sculpture, created in 2010, is a monument to technological progress, self-taught sculpture artist Raudenbush has said — a modern ruin, of sorts. “It’s an aesthetic you see a lot at Burning Man,” Atkinson says. “Future’s Past” shows an ancient Bodhi tree growing out of a black pyramid; inside the temple, an hourglass symbolizes the collapse our reliance on technology might ultimately cause.


“Ursa Major” (Ellen Collier / Express)

4. ‘Ursa Major’ by Mr. and Mrs. Ferguson
19th Street NW between I and K streets
Behold: a 14-foot grizzly bear whose sparkling fur is made out of 170,000 pennies. The sculpture was created by a husband-and-wife team who met and later married at Burning Man. “I’ve never seen a more friendly bear,” Atkinson says. “They use the pennies as a really tactile sensation — they become this wonderful pettable fur, and when you stand underneath, it’s just towering over you. It makes you look up at the stars, which I think is really beautiful.”


“XOXO” (Ellen Collier / Express)

5. ‘XOXO’ by Laura Kimpton with Jeff Schomberg
Northwest corner of 18th and I streets NW
The steel sculpture that twinkles with LED lights — a love letter to Black Rock Desert — was a favorite photo op at last year’s Burning Man, says Atkinson, who attended the festival for the first time in 2017. Tiny bird-shaped cutouts line each X and O, an extra dimension noticeable only from up close. “Laura uses such simple words in her work, but they almost always have multiple connotations and meanings you can draw from them,” Atkinson says. “They’re visually stunning but they also make us stop and think.”


Untitled by Jack Champion (Ellen Collier / Express)

6. Untitled by Jack Champion
Edward R. Murrow Park at Pennsylvania Avenue and 18th Street NW
Champion’s pair of oversized bronze crows were part of a larger flock called “Murder” that appeared at Burning Man in 2016. Each bird is assembled from 40 pieces of cast bronze, and Champion’s inspiration came in part from an encounter he had with crows at a previous Burning Man. “When you’re out in the desert, your eyes are fooled by the scale of the place, so when you ride up to [the sculpture] you’re expecting these little birds and they turn out to be huge — larger than a person’s size,” Atkinson says. “They’re really playful.”