Rocket Ship Ready to Blast Off

By Joe Rosato Jr.
|  Wednesday, Jul 28, 2010  |  Updated 9:01 PM PDT
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Mega Ship Sets Sail

Joe Rosato Jr.

Artist Alan Rorie grinds away at parts of the Rocket ship which will be installed on San Francisco's Embarcadero on August 3rd.

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"It's a fully functional rocketship," Alan Rorie says, without a hint of sacrasm inside the industrial mayhem of a West Oakland warehouse.  

 This cacophany of tools and parts is the homebase where Rorie and his art collective are putting final touches on the 40-foot art piece they call the Raygun Gothic Rocket.

 "To us these are big toys. Big erector sets. And then we get to go out and put em together," Rorie said.

 The massive silvery rocket first turned heads at the annual BurningMan arts festival in the Nevada desert. Now Rorie and the art collective known as "5 Ton Crane" are installing the piece on San Francisco's Embarcadero where it will remain for the next 14 months.

 The massive vessel is straight out of a Jules Verne novel -- a nod to the genre of science fiction that gave way to the steam punk movement.

 "Everyone that worked on the rocket is in some way a huge science fiction geek, and a science fan," Rorie admits.

 Rorie himself is a former research scientist who says he grew tired of having little physical evidence of his long hours in the lab. Now his search for a creative outlet has lead to a silvery vessel that looks ready to blast off any second.

 Rorie reveals a mischevious grin when describing the rocket ship's famous "launch" at BurningMan in which he claims the ship actually rose two inches off the ground in a blast of pyrotechnics. Although the claims are somewhat dubious, he says what's important is that the rocket serve as an inspiration for his fellow dreamers.

 "I hope people look at this and say wow," he said. "A bunch of people got together and built this."

 The rocket will take-up the empty spot on the Embarcadero the large spider sculpture once occupied. The Port of San Francisco and Black Rock Arts Foundation, BurningMan's public arts wing arranged for the Rocket to move in. The team will install the piece during the night on August 3rd, with a dedication party set for August 6th.

 A kiosk Rorie calls the Rocket Stop will give visitors information on the piece as well as "flight times" and "routes."  But whether the rocket is indeed "full functional" as Rorie describes, is simply up to the skills of the dreamers who visit it.     

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