Leo Villareal Lights to Span SF’s Bay Bridge


For his latest project, The Bay Lights, artist Leo Villareal will cover the cables of San Francisco’s Bay Bridge with 25,000 glowing LED nodes. Debuting Mar. 5, this nightly display of patterned lights will shimmer from dusk till midnight for the next 2 years.

The New York-based Villareal is known for large-scale light-based works, like Multiverse, a 200-foot-long tunnel of flickering lights created in 2008 and on permanent display in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. But The Bay Lights, with its 1.8-mile-long span, will be Villareal’s most ambitious project to date.

The abstract illuminations of The Bay Lights are controlled by the artist’s custom-made computer software and draw their inspiration from Bay Bridge’s environment. In a press release Villareal said of these surroundings: “We have traffic moving back and forth, we have boats underneath, the oscillations of the waves, the weather, light, and air. I take input from all of those things.”

San Francisco-based organization Illuminate the Arts, founded in 2012, arranged the eight million-dollar, privately funded installation. Their mission, to provide community-activating public art, matches Villareal’s goal for this project. He said in the release: “My hope is that The Bay Lights will unleash all sorts of creativity around the Bay Area, and change the way people feel about what can be done.”

Pier 14, just south of the Ferry Building, provides an ideal vantage point for San Franciscans to watch The Bay Lights. For non-locals, a live, multi-camera streaming video of the The Bay Lights’ launch will be shown on March 5th at 8.30PM at thebaylights.org.