Since 1986, when the first Burning Man took place on Baker Beach in San Francisco, the event has grown.

Now its six board members wrestle with a crisis surrounding ticket availability.

They also weigh the need for crowd safety against the demand for the creative freedom that has always sustained the project.

Three individuals are given particular focus: Jon La Grace, a Burning Man organizer who years ago left his wife and job after an epiphany at the desert revel and came out of the closet; Katy Boynton, a welder raising funds for and building "Heartfullness," a heart-shaped metal contraption 12 feet high; and Otto Von Danger, a disillusioned former Marine, who leads a team in constructing "Burn Wall Street," a mock version of the financial district that he intends to immolate in protest of the housing crisis.

The portraits here offer West Coast idealism and conviction coupled with an extravagant aesthetic vision.

Since we can't all attend Burning Man, we can be thankful for "Spark," which is probably the next best thing.