Know your neighbor
Generator plan docked; Irony full sail
On Wednesay the Reno City Council considered a proposal to allow the Generator to lease a plot of land for $1 a year for a new facility and sculpture park.
One art piece that would likely find a home there is Pier 2, the three-story replica of a shipwrecked Spanish galleon built for Burning Man in 2012 by Generator Executive Director Matt Schultz and an army of volunteers.
The council shelved the proposal for the time being, and it sounds like another round of negotiations is in store.
The Reno Gazette Journal's Anjeanette Damon posted a detailed account of the discussion and Tweeted a play-by-play as the meeting unfolded, so the only work left for me is to point out one rich coincidence:
Among several reasons the proposal remains unapproved is that neighboring land owner Mike Stewart has requested partial access to the plot so he can access the warehouse he owns on the adjacent lot. The details of that arrangement have yet to be determined.
So, what's ironic about that? The Mike Stewart who may well end up being neighbors with Pier 2, a beloved reconstruction of a Spanish galleon made for Burners to play on, is the same Mike Stewart who faced trial in 2012 for the burning of La Contessa, which was — yep — a beloved reconstruction of a Spanish galleon made for Burners to play on.
Before you go throwing stones at Stewart, however, take note: When the San Francisco Bay Guardian called the incident an "arson attack" in July 2012, the case was just then going to court. In August 2012, Stewart was exonerated.
There is no evidence that he intends to turn Pier 2 into "Pyre 2" — or to otherwise harm to his potential future neighbors or their artwork. Some things really are just coincidence.
UPDATE, Jan. 30: Stewart's property is listed for sale.
FULL DISCLOSURE: It's a small town, and I'm active in the art scene. I'll always level with you, readers, about any potential conflict of interest or appearance thereof. Here's my vantage point on this topic: I'm a resident artist at the Generator, and I'm married to a board member.
UPDATE, Feb. 3: I watched this video of the Jan. 28 city council meeting and noticed one more detail:
Matt Harris spoke against the proposed lease, saying "My main concern is the property deserves a competitive bid process." He added that "transparency for our government" is also in order.
Harris identified himself as a commercial realtor but didn’t mention that he is the listing agent for Mike Stewart's property.