Golden Gate's grey stepsister dresses up in lights

Wed Mar 6, 2013 4:00pm EST
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By Ronnie Cohen

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge moved out of the shadow of its more famous sibling, the Golden Gate, to dazzle on Tuesday night when a high-tech artist turned it into a sculpture of moving lights.

Some 25,000 LED lights transformed the 1.8-mile long, 500-foot (152-meter) tall bridge into something of a giant lava lamp. Controlled by a computer, the white lights flickered on and off randomly in never-repeating patterns.

New York artist Leo Villareal, 46, stood in the wind and rain on a pier facing the bridge and hit a key on a laptop to switch on what he called his fantasy project.

"I'm pinching myself," he said.

Organizers of the privately funded project say it turned the Bay Bridge into the world's biggest illuminated sculpture.

"This is monumental public art," Villareal told Reuters earlier in the day. "It's abstract. Everyone will see something different in it."

"I thought it looked like waves," said jeweler Sandra Sevil, 27, who said she had come from Peru to view the installation, called "Bay Lights".

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said around 50 million people are expected to visit the Bay Area over the next two years to witness the $8 million privately funded project on the western side of the bridge connecting Oakland to San Francisco.   Continued...

A lighted art display is shown on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in San Francisco, California March 5, 2013. The Bay Bridge - no. 2 to its famous neighbor, Golden Gate - was decorated with some 25,000 lights by artist Leo Villareal, making a massive illuminated sculpture. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith