The Murals of Burning Man 2015… From Dali to Pigs that Fly

Destined to last a week, Burning Man murals provide mural artists with and opportunity to display their work, and for Burners to enjoy the murals.

Destined to last a week, Burning Man murals provide mural artists with an opportunity to display their work, and for Burners to enjoy the murals.

Somewhere around 30,000 BC, a group of guys and possibly gals, decided to try their hand at creating murals deep in the caves of southern France. Apparently folks liked what they saw. The art form caught on. The ancient Egyptians placed murals in their tombs; they were found in Pompeii before Mt. Vesuvius blew her top; and Michelangelo undoubtedly got a kink in his neck from daubing away at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Peggy and I have even found some very interesting UFO-like murals left behind by early Native Americans.

We found this Roman mural in a museum in Naples.

We found this Roman mural in a museum in Naples.

Today murals have become ubiquitous, if I may use that two-bit word, i.e. they are everywhere. Small towns use them to attract visitors and relate their history. Urban areas have found them great for freshening up blighted areas. And the best of graffiti artists are now paid big bucks to wield spray cans they once used for free— two steps ahead of the police.

Murals have a way of slipping into my blogs when I come across them. I appreciate the efforts of both major cities and small towns to support artists. I recently featured murals I found in Puerto Vallarta. Two other examples include one from the small coastal town of Bolinas and one featuring People’s Park in Berkeley.

Mural Peggy and I found in Puerto Vallarta. We enjoyed its sent of humor.

Mural Peggy and I found in Puerto Vallarta. We enjoyed its sense of humor.

Mural of early Bolinas, California. Photo taken by Curtis Mekemson.

A mural depicting how Bolinas would have looked in the 50s. Not much has changed. As for the guy in a brown suit carrying a blue surfboard… artistic license?

Murals have been used to reflect local history and political protest.

Murals have often been used to reflect local history and political protest.

Alien looking forms in an early Native American mural (pictograph) from Sego Canyon in eastern Utah north of I-70.

Alien looking forms in an early Native American mural (pictograph) from Sego Canyon in eastern Utah north of I-70. I am going with UFO visitors.

Given the creative bent of Burning Man, it isn’t at all surprising to find that mural art thrives there. Each year, the Burning Man Organization, BMO, makes a long fence around the back side of the Center Camp Café available to artists. Other murals can be found throughout Black Rock City. I make a point of including works that strike my fancy in my annual Burning Man blogs. This year my choices ranged from Salvador Dali to pigs that fly— and other strange stuff. (Grin) Pigs that fly, BTW, have been a favorite of mine ever since I memorized this poem from Lewis Carol as an impressionable teenager:

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
”To talk of many things:
 Of shoes, and ships, and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
And whether pigs have wings.”

Peggy’s mom, who is a retired high school English teacher and is now 95, doesn’t remember much, but she remembers this verse. We often recite it together.

Three angelic flying pigs.

Three angelic flying pigs. I think the nose masks are there to deal with the dust storms of Burning Man.

A not so angelic Salvador Dali.

A not so angelic Salvador Dali and his message.

Arriving early at Burning Man in 2015, I was able to watch a number of mural artists at work.

Arriving early at Burning Man in 2015, I was able to watch a number of mural artists at work.

Note the number of paints.

Colorful mural, colorful clothes.

A view of one of the walls featuring a number of artists.

A view of one of the walls featuring a number of artists.

These clowns fit into the Burning Man theme of Carnival.

These clowns fit into the Burning Man theme of Carnival.

A bear riding a unicycle while juggling flaming bottles— another carnival theme.

A bear riding a unicycle while juggling flaming bottles— another carnival theme. Apparently the world burns as well, while the middle bottle urges people to have a nice day.

Want strange, this one qualifies.

Want strange, this ‘BMO insider’ mural qualifies. Check out the statue of Bliss dancing with Homer Simpson on the hat. El Pulpo Mechanico lurks in the background.

Handsome bugs. Number 4, not seen, BTW, was a mirror.

Handsome bugs. Fig 4, not seen here, was a mirror. Burners were invited to join the collection.

Let's have a party.

Let’s have a party. The two in front are playing their noses like flutes. And then there is the nose harp…

Unfinished but interesting.

Unfinished but interesting.

A study in black and white. Check out the details.

A study in black and white. Check out the details.

Incentive?

Incentive or trap?

The peaceable kingdom? Or not?

I’ll conclude with this version of what I view as the peaceable kingdom. Whether the artist saw it that way…

NEXT BLOG: A strange cathedral, Susan Sarandon, and the ashes of Timothy Leary.

46 comments on “The Murals of Burning Man 2015… From Dali to Pigs that Fly

    • Thanks for the link, Andrew. I followed it and read your blog. I’ve always thought it would be a great experience to go into the cave. I’ve spent a lot of time wandering around the southwestern US exploring petroglyph sights and am a fan of so-called ‘primitive’ art. To me, it is anything but, and represents a completely different world than the one we know.
      As for Dali, I don’t anyone ever accused him of lacking in ego. Seems a bit like “the Donald,” as in Trump. –Curt

    • They range from serious to fun to outrageous, Carrie. Sometimes you feel like you have followed the white rabbit down his hole. They are always one of my first stops at Burning Man. I also enjoy watching their creation, art in progress. –Curt

    • I think it is a good reflection of Bolinas humor, GP. It is a very interesting town. The locals tore down on the road signs that pointed to the community off Highway 1 for years. Finally, the California Department of Transportation stopped putting up signs. 🙂 –Curt

  1. I really like the insects, the suited dude with the board, and the juggling bear (although the rest of that mural’s not so appealing.) I just was thinking about the towns were I’ve found interesting murals: Harrisonville, Missouri; Bay City, Texas; Rolling Fork, Mississippi (Muddy Waters). It’s a fact that the artistic quality isn’t always the highest, but that doesn’t bother me. I love that people are creating, and expressing pride. We could use a little more of that.

    • Oh, Linda, I so much agree with you. I want to stand up and cheer when I come to a small town (or elsewhere) that has invested energy and resources into creating murals. It shows a certain pride in the community and a hope for the future. Another example in Paducah, Kentucky. The best I’ve ever seen, and I mention it to Sue Slight above, is the small community of Chemainus on Vancouver Island. –Curt

    • Definitely some fun and often bizarre stuff, Alison! Imagine playing your nose like a flute. 🙂 Artists are free to reflect whatever is running around in their psyche. I have some more fun/strange stuff tomorrow connected with the Totem of Confession. –Curt

    • Murial? Is that French, AC? One thing that I have found over the past several years that murals are both increasing in quantity and improving in quality. The quality of the murals at Burning Man is especially impressive to me given that they have a week’s lifespan. –Curt

    • Thanks Melanie. No, I haven’t been to the Dali museum in Florida but you are the second person to recommend it. I will definitely put it on my route the next time I make it to Florida. –Curt

  2. Ok, so first of all, I also posted about Sego Canyon ( https://crystaltrulove.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/sego-canyon-petroglyphs-pictographs/ ) and I find it rather amusing that both of us thought “aliens” when we saw some of those pictographs.

    Second, heads up. Over at Ram On, a commentor told Bruce that the way to bring in hits to a blog post was to use one of several tags, including “hot man.” Bruce couldn’t think of when “hot man” would ever be appropriate for his own posts, but I suggested that it might work on yours, when you are talking about Burning Man. 😉

    Third. I love murals! And I think it is awesome the way you took us way back in time and then pulled us forward together, so that we could view today’s murals on context. For a minute there, I think you were James Michener. The murals are all so good, and even better is the idea that they are all at one place in one small piece of time. I have thought to myself countless times when reading your blog posts that Burning Man wouldn’t be for me (I’m easily over-stimulated and the results aren’t pretty), but this is the first post that made me think I could find my peace there if I could stand in front of art like this and contemplate.

    • Hi Crystal, I checked out your blog on Sego Canyon. Isn’t that place amazing. Peggy and I have been to numerous rock art sites and I have never found a dull one. But Sego was different than most.
      Hmmm, hot men at Burning Man. Of course there are, as well as women. Some of the best looking guys are gay. Not surprising. I am laughing, but I think I will avoid the hot guy card like I’ve avoided the hot woman card…
      Over stimulated, eh.
      There is a great deal of art that you would love, Crystal. The murals are only the beginning. 🙂 –Curt

      • ha ha,to be clear, I meant stimulation as in sights and sounds and colors! It seems to me like the amount of stuff going on at Burning Man would send me running for my tent to hide. But perhaps not. And as for the tag, well, if there’s a man that’s burning, well that’s a hot man. 😉

        (I think I accidentally sent wwaaayyy too many double entendres in my last comment. Hee)

      • I was wondering Crystal. Just kidding. Burning Man can addle your mind. Of course you meant the Burning Man. It was the plural that caught me off guard. As for stimulation, there is no end to it. And I am sure minds are stimulated in all directions. 🙂 –Curt

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