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Lecture & Screening:
Artist David Best

Wednesday, April 6 | 6:30-8PM
Art Car Museum
140 Heights Blvd, Houston, TX 77007



For the first time in years, Best returns to Houston to talk about his collaborative and non-hierarchical approach to art and the community efforts he’s facilitated over the decades. The program includes a screening of a ten minute film produced by KQED that documents the transformation of a 1973 Cadillac into a 40-foot rocket car that carried Best’s team to the 2003 Burning Man Festival.

Sculptor David Best (b. 1945) is internationally renowned for his monumental constructions made from discarded punched-wood panels which are then ignited and consumed by flames in a spectacle of light and heat during the annual Burning Man festivals. Best received a B.F.A. from the College of Marin and an M.F.A. in sculpture from the San Francisco Art Institute, His early work in painting, ceramics, and collage have been shown at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Oakland Museum, the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, and at the San Jose Museum of Art. Best met pioneering “glue" artists Larry Fuente and Dickens Bascome in the mid-1970s and made his first rolling sculpture for the SFMoMA’s soapbox derby race. A succession of elaborately-detailed art cars followed, many created with the help of hundreds of community members. Best first came to the attention of Houston audiences in 1984 when Ann Harithas included him in her landmark exhibition, “Collision: Independent Visions” at the University of Houston’s Lawndale Annex.  He is, however, best-known as the Temple Builder at Burning Man.

Since 2000, David Best has designed and coordinated the construction of numerous Burning Man temples. Established as sacred spaces of reflection and prayer, all of these have been massive, incredibly intricate, wooden structures. During the week of Burning Man, the Temples are adorned by participants with memorials and inscriptions. The structure is burned in a cathartic ritual to inspire healing and community. Since 2005, Best has also built similarly ephemeral temples in public spaces outside of Burning Man, within the United States and abroad, particularly in places affected by conflict and natural disaster. Committed to the values of inclusion and participation, Best creates opportunities for anyone who wants to take part in his projects, augmenting a core group of volunteers known as the Temple Crew with members of each community where he works. The temples are unaffiliated with any religion, free, and open to the public. The guiding principle is to provide a place to pay respect and offer acceptance. “I want people to take their pain and transform it,” Best once remarked. “I want people who don’t think they are able to do art, to do art."


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