A Church Trap, a Temple for Timothy Leary’s Ashes, and other Unique Burning Man Buildings

The Church Trap was amusing, and possibly a wee bit scary. Scrolls of music are emerging from the windows, roof and steeple.

 

Did you ever try to catch birds as a kid using a box held up by a stick? Being a curious little boy with dreams of being a mountain man, I did. I baited the trap with birdseed stolen from Budgie, our parakeet, and tied a long string to the stick. When some innocent sparrows followed the trail of seeds into the trap, I yanked on the string and the box fell down, capturing the birds. After announcing my great accomplishment to the world, or at least my mother, I let them go— a bit beat up but wiser.

I had totally forgotten the experience until I discovered the Church Trap at Burning Man in 2013. It was set up the same way. A full-sized church had been raised up on one end with a 4×4 stick ‘holding’ it up. A rope was attached to the stick. Scrolls of paper with religious songs printed on them had been attached to an organ within the church. They poked out the windows, roof and steeple, symbolic of music (bait) emerging from the church to attract people passing by.

The church was solidly set in the ground. It was not about to be pulled down. Had it, however, a lot of burners would have been caught. People stopped by for weddings, to play the organ, and to give sermons from the pulpit.

The Church Trap was one of many unique buildings built on the Playa in 2013 to entertain and engage participants. The next year I found myself checking out the Temple of Confession where Susan Sarandon had placed ashes of LSD guru Timothy Leary. I am featuring the temple in my photo essay today along with several other buildings that have captured my interest and/or amused me.

The Temple of Confession was covered in photographs…

They were very creative, but strange, including this three-breasted woman with a dress of skulls.

The Temple of Confession at night.

This rather impressive goat, along with a confessional, a photo of Timothy Leary, and a portion of ashes from his cremation were found inside.

Eyes like this one that included peepholes were also found in the temple. Naturally, I had to look.

This is what I saw. It spoke to the incredible detail, and surprises, built into so much Burning Man art.

This is the Temple of Photos produced for an earlier Burning Man. Both of the temples were burned.

The Prairie Wind Chapel came with a windmill. Like the Church Trap, it had an organ and hosted weddings for people who wanted to get married at Burning Man.

I was attracted to the Mazu Temple because of its dragons and other mythical creatures. Its large lotus was also rather spectacular. A group from Taiwan brought this temple to Burning Man. It was also burned.

A close up of one of the dragons. The lanterns were lit at night and the dragon breathed fire.

This multi-eyed demon was on one of the side pillars of the Mazu Temple.

And how about a real movie theater out in the deep playa. You could even attend movies there and get popcorn, but I think show time started around 1:00 a.m.

Occasionally, several buildings are included together. Wall Street was built at Burning Man right about the time America was suffering the severe economic crisis that had been brought on by corporate and individual greed.

Here’s the Wall Street Bull backed up by the Bank of UnAmerica. 

A graffiti artist urges people to dream on Wall Street’s main building. I am sure, by now, that you realize that the whole complex was doomed to go up in flames.

Speaking of dreams, the Life Cube Project at Burning Man encouraged people to write their dreams and goals on a sheet of paper and insert them into a slot in the building, with the idea that your dreams and goals are a step closer to realization if you commit them to writing.

The back of the Life Cube building was decorated with art.

I’ll use this close-up to conclude today’s post. Do you have a favorite among the buildings I featured today?

NEXT BLOGS:

Monday: I’ll finish up my look at Bandon, Oregon with a trip that Peggy and I made out to the Coquille Lighthouse.

Wednesday: Part II of the backpacking trip that led to Bone’s discovery. Remember, it features a raging river and kamikaze mosquitoes.

Friday: The murals of Burning Man and other paintings that may have you scratching your head.

A Texas Bull Comes Out of the Ground; A Canadian Goose Is Created with 120,000 Pennies… The Art of Burning Man

There are regional groups of Burners around the US and around the world. One year, Burning Man requested that regional groups come up with art projects. Texas produced this magnificent bull.

 

As I’ve noted before, my primary reason for going to Burning Man is the art. The creativity involved goes on and on and can, at times, be mind-boggling. Over the past couple of months, I’ve provided examples, looking first at mutant vehicles and then at large-scale sculptures. Today, I am going to wrap up my posts on sculptures. Next week, I’ll introduce some very unique buildings that seemingly spring up overnight in the Black Rock Desert only to be disassembled or burned down a week later.

The same year that Texas produced the bull, the Northern California regional group produced this lighthouse.

A close up of the stained glass top.

There are dragons at Burning Man! Always. This guy’s tail needed propping up.

I thought this dragon looked friendly…

And this fellow scary. You may remember the quote, “meaner than a junk yard dog.” Well this was a junk yard dragon, made out of 100% pure junk. And check out that shadow!

A closer look at the skin on the dragon’s back. I thought the dog was a fun addition.

Meet Penny, the Canadian Goose. Over 100,000 pennies cover her body.

Is this a small woman or a big chair? It is definitely an Alice in Wonderland kind of thing. (Photo by Horse Bone Tribe member Don Green.)

“I shot an arrow into the air. It fell to earth I know not where.” –Longfellow

I really liked this illusion of cubes climbing into the sky. (Photo by Don Green.)

Tom Lovering caught this beautiful photo of a lotus with the sun behind it.

Large letter messages such as DREAM can be found at Burning Man almost every year.

This sculpture served as a gateway between the Center Camp Cafe and the Playa. A large dust storm stretches across the Playa and will soon invade Black Rock City, possibly causing a white out.

One expects to find ocean creatures scattered around Burning Man. A fence surrounding this octopus included hand cranks you could turn to move the tentacles. Much Burning Man art is designed to be interactive.

It isn’t unusual to find art that focuses on the Man, such as these hands…

And these circles.

A side view of the circles provided a different perspective.

I’ve always liked the grace of this simple sculpture.

The same sculpture from the back. Check out the stick sculpture under the wing.

A closer look. Imagine putting this together.

This prehistoric bird is another example of interactive art. Peggy climbed into its chest and worked pedals that made the wings flap. Slowly.

A large butterfly encouraged climbing!

This wood carving made me think I had arrived at Easter Island. I decided it would look good in black and white.

Lets get down and boogie!

A gypsy wagon is pulled by a rather unique horse.

I’ll close today with these colorful geometric structures.

NEXT BLOGS:

Monday: Bandon… I’ll continue my series on the beautiful Oregon coast.

Wednesday: The interview with Bone. You won’t want to miss it!

Friday: The buildings of Burning Man, including some stunning temples.

Ten Favorite Burning Man Activities… Updated!

The classic female nude has always been a favorite subject of artists. This beautiful woman was over 50 feet tall and was one of a series of three at Burning Man.

The classic female nude has always been a favorite subject of artists. This beautiful woman was over 50 feet tall and was one of a series of three at Burning Man. Art, more than anything else, has been pulling me back to Burning Man since 2004.

With two laptops down and this one heading for the doctor, I have to revise my publishing schedule for the next week. I’m reaching back into my archives and pulling out three former posts that are at least in the spirit of what I have promised. Today is on Burning Man. I’ll follow up with an historical blog on Philadelphia’s Fort Mifflin and then a backpacking tale that includes bears, lots of them.

I may be totally off the Internet for the next week. If I don’t respond immediately, that’s the case. 

It’s time to buy tickets for Burning Man again, which is always a harrowing experience. At least it has been for the past several years. I made my first trip to Burning Man in 2004 and have been back numerous times since. I can’t resist. It is one of the most unique events I have ever attended. Following are some of the reasons why. Today kicks off a Friday series on Burning Man I will be running over the next couple of months during the ticket sale time that feature favorite photos from my archive of thousands. Enjoy!

I should probably name this blog Curt Mekemson’s Ten Favorite Burning Man Activities. When it comes to Burning Man, things get personal. One person’s preferences might very well be another person’s boring, with just the right teen-age emphasis followed by, “Was that guy actually there?”

For example, I don’t like loud music but there are camps at Burning Man with humongous speakers that blast out ear shattering decibels 24/7. Fine, it’s their thing and they have lots of fans, not to mention some of the best DJs in the world. Many Burners list these venues among their top choices. They joyfully dance the night away, literally. I like stopping by but my ears soon send me scooting for quieter locations— like the opposite side of the Playa.

Dancing and music are an integral part of Burning Man. The event attracts some of the top DJs in the world who spin their tunes for free at Burning Man.

Dancing and music are an integral part of Burning Man. The event attracts some of the top DJs in the world who spin their tunes for free at Burning Man. The hanging speakers give an idea of the volume that can be generated.

I don’t run around naked at Burning Man, either. That would be scary— for both me and anybody looking in my direction. But I have no objection to other people being nude. Some Burners are quite attractive while others are at least, uh, colorful. I assume all are enjoying some form of liberation, or at least a bit of exhibitionism.

Outrageous costumes make people watching at Burning Man a number one activity. The guy 'looking the wrong way' helped make this photo. Note the platform shoes on the woman. She wears them well.

Outrageous costumes make people watching at Burning Man a number one activity. The guy ‘looking the wrong way’ helped make this photo. What was he thinking? Note the platform shoes on the woman. She wears them well.

The thing about the Burning Man experience is that it depends on the individual. My recommendation for new participants is to come with an open mind and explore. If you want to get naked, go ahead; but you don’t have to and most don’t. Your experience can be as radical or conservative as you wish to make it.

So, having established my parameters, here is my top-ten list of things to do at Burning Man (assuming one can finagle a ticket). They aren’t in order of preference.

1. Attend the Burn: First, you will want to visit the Man during the week. There are usually a number of activities taking place that reflect the year’s theme. Plus you can often climb up into the base and enjoy some of the best views available of Black Rock City! The burning of the Man on Saturday night is the climax of the week where everything and everyone comes together. Hundreds of fire dancers and drummers kick off the event and are followed by an elaborate ceremony where the Man is set on fire.  Things start with a bang, literally, as rockets explode and light up the sky. The Man then moves toward his ultimate demise, slowly. His last seconds are met by silence from 70,000 people, possibly the only time when Burning Man is quiet, followed by oohs and ahs building to a crescendo as he comes crashing down, completing his annual sacrifice. Don’t worry, like Frosty the Snowman and the Phoenix Bird, he’ll be back. The burn is only part of the show, however. Elaborate costumes, giant mutant vehicles, and total  bedlam compete for attention.

 

For six days the Man serves as a gathering point on the Playa and as a landmark for lost Burners. On Saturday night he burns in what has become one of the world’s best known New Age rituals.

Burning Man's roots go back 27 years to the burning of an 8 foot tall statue on Baker Beach in San Francisco. Today's man stands some 40 feet tall and rests on a 60 foot pedestal. The wooden man and his fiery demise symbolizes the annual event that takes place in the remote Black Rock Desert of Nevada.

Burning Man’s roots go back 31 years to the burning of an 8 foot tall statue on Baker Beach in San Francisco. Today’s man stands some 40 feet tall and rests on a 60 foot pedestal.

My friend Don Green took this photo of the Fun House entrance that was built around the Man in 2015.

My friend Don Green took this photo of the Fun House entrance that was built around the Man in 2015.

The night sky is lit up by fireworks during the burning of the Man at Burning Man 2014.

Suddenly the night sky and the Man are lit up by fireworks. The burn is about to begin.

A close up of the Man burning at Burning Man 2014.

Don Green captured this photo of the Man Burning.

The Burning of the Man on Saturday night gives the event its name.

Huge flames light up the night.

People perch on El Pulpo Mechanico at Burning Man and watch as the Man burns.

People perched on El Pulpo Mechanico at Burning Man and watched as the Man burned. Even the mutant vehicle, El Pulpo Mechanico, seemed entranced.

2. Enjoy the People: I don’t know where one could find a more interesting cast of characters than Burning Man. But then again, there aren’t many places where you are encouraged to be yourself and pursue ‘radical self-expression’ in a region where temperatures top 100 and 60 mph windstorms kick up massive dust storms that create zero visibility. Tribes, events and volunteering create numerous situations where it is easy to meet people and make friends. While Burning Man preaches involvement, you are also totally free to wander around and simply observe.

The folks who come to Burning Man represent a broad spectrum of people representing all ages and occupations— from broke college students to billionaires. this fellow is a veteran Burner who works with the Department of Public Works that helps build Black Rock City.

The folks who come to Burning Man represent a broad spectrum of people from all ages and occupations— from broke college students to billionaires. This fellow is a veteran Burner who works with the Department of Public Works that helps build Black Rock City.

This young couple stood next to me as we watched a burning piano be tossed 50 or so yards up the Playa. Glasses form an important part of Burner's costumes.

This young couple stood next to me as we watched a burning piano be tossed 50 or so yards up the Playa.

Costumes are an integral part of Burning Man and some people such as my friend Ken (aka Scotty) Love to dress up.

Costumes are an integral part of Burning Man and some people such as my friend Ken (aka Scotty) love to dress up. Scotty, BTW, is Ken’s Burning Man name. Almost everyone has one. Mine is Outlaw.

3. Appreciate the Art: Burning Man art comes in all forms, from monumental to small, from sculpture to painting to performance. Most of the major pieces and performances take place on the Playa or along the Esplanade. But there are many smaller pieces (and performances) found throughout the camp and at the Center Camp Cafe. Much of the art is interactive. Be sure to check out the playa sculptures at different times of the day. Many of the pieces are schizophrenic with radically different day and night personalities. And many are making there way into communities around the world.

Burning Man has become a major center for what is happening in today’s art world. Selecting a piece to represent what is happening in the Nevada desert is close to impossible. These two oil tankers welded together and stacked on top of each other, meld environmental concern with art, two of Burning Man’s major themes.

Medusa with her snake hair was one of my favorite sculptures in 2015.

Medusa, with her writhing snake hair, was one of my favorite sculptures in 2015.

Burning Man Fantasy sculpture

Monumental sculptures, many you can climb on, are among the most popular art works at Burning Man.

4. Save Time for the Desert: The Black Rock Desert and surrounding mountains are beautiful. Look around. Once the Playa was part of the huge Lake Lahontan, which was over 500 hundred feet deep. Mammoths wandered the lake’s shore. Early morning and late evening provide the best times for desert viewing. An early morning walk, while Burning Man more or less sleeps, is the best time to appreciate what the desert has to offer. Embrace rather than dread the weather. When else in your life will you experience a massive dust storm or see a desert rainbow?

The evening sun bathes the surrounding mountains at Burning Man in soft light.

The evening sun bathes the surrounding mountains at Burning Man in soft light.

I think Burning Man  fails to emphasize (or assigns to footnote status) one of the event’s most spectacular assets… the beauty of the Black Rock Desert.

A massive dust storm crosses the Playa and hides the camp.

4. Visit the Temple: The folks who build the Temple deserve a huge vote of thanks from all of us. Visiting is both an aesthetic and spiritual experience. To start with, the temples are gorgeous, with each year’s building a unique creation. Thousands of written messages are left on the walls to honor loved ones who have died or to give thanks for blessings. The messages are both sincere and touching. Take along a pen or a marker if you wish to honor or thank someone who has had a significant impact on your life. On Sunday night the temple burns, sending messages skyward in what I can only describe as a sacred experience.

The Temple of Promise at Burning Man 2012.

The Temple of Promise at Burning Man 2015.

The Temple of Grace at Burning Man 2014.

The Temple of Grace at Burning Man 2014.

The Temple burns on Sunday Night. Unlike the Burning of the Man which is a bit on the rowdy side, Burners watch silently and respectfully as the Temple Burns.

The Temple burns on Sunday Night. Unlike the Burning of the Man which is a bit on the rowdy side, Burners watch silently and respectfully as the Temple is consumed by flame.

5. Check out Camp Center Cafe, Often: Whether you want to perform, show off your costume, pick up the latest news, attend a show, enjoy art, have a cup of coffee, meet friends, have your fortune told, apply pasties, watch people or just hang, Camp Center Cafe is the place to go. It’s open 24 hours a day. Something is always going on. I visit two to three times daily. Be sure to watch the costume contest and the talent show.

This robot with his dog and a flower was in front of the Center Camp Cafe. He would raise the flower up to his nose and sniff it.

This robot with his dog and a flower was in front of the Center Camp Cafe. He would raise the flower up to his nose and sniff it. Each year Center Camp Cafe features a major sculpture.

“Yes Master.” Camp Center is a great place to watch people, show off your costume, and live out your fantasies… and it is always entertaining.

A show of some kind of the other is pretty much guaranteed when you visit the Center Camp Cafe. Here couples practice partner yoga. Are the two guys center-right twins?

A show of some kind of the other is pretty much guaranteed when you visit the Center Camp Cafe. Here couples practice partner yoga. Are the two guys on the floor center-right twins?

Center Camp is also a prime location for Burning Man art.

Center Camp is also a prime location for Burning Man art.

6. Stroll or Bike The Esplanade: This is Burning Man’s other major center of action. It provides the border between the Camp and the Playa. It is a theater, circus and walkway all in one. Stop by and watch people pummel each other with foam sticks in the Thunder Dome, enjoy a troop of fire dancers, go roller-skating, play games, try out a balloon ride, hear how loud music can actually get, dance, watch a movie, become lost in a maze, meditate… etc.

Hundreds of people lined up for an opportunity climb into the sky on this balloon ride that was offered on the Esplanade. Entertainment along the Esplanade varies from dancing, to roller skating, to circuses. Once there was even a booth that would spank you, assuming you needed it.

Major tribes with hundreds of members build elaborate camps along the Esplanade.

Major tribes , some with hundreds of members, build elaborate camps along the Esplanade.

A number of impressive buildings including the Sacred Spaces building are found along the Esplanade at Burning Man.

Another example.

7. Check out and/or Ride on Mutant Vehicles: Undecorated vehicles are restricted to camp. If you are going to drive you have to decorate. What’s not to love about a giant, wooly mammoth or a cat car with fur? Mutant Vehicles at Burning Man come in all shapes, forms and sizes. Some people spend weeks/months creating their fantasy transportation systems and even bicycles are elaborately decorated.  Various vehicles become dance floors, spout fire, look ferocious and even appear friendly. A polite request may land you a ride.

The Cat Car is a perennial favorite at Burning Man. This year she had a makeover and was looking quite snazzy.

The Cat Car is a perennial favorite at Burning Man. This year she had a makeover and was looking quite snazzy.

The tusks on they mammoth are what make this art car one of my favorite mutant vehicles at Burning Man. People sit inside the rib cage. The driver climbs into the head.

The tusks on they mammoth are what make this art car one of my favorite mutant vehicles. People sit inside the rib cage. The driver climbs into the head.

Where's Alice?

Where’s Alice?

Never Was Haul resembles a Victorian House that has been converted to a steam engine train.

Never Was Haul resembles a Victorian House that has been converted to a steam engine train.

A rhino even more massive than its counterpart in East Africa.

A rhino even more massive than its counterpart in East Africa.

8. Join a Tribe, or not: Tribes are the major social units at Burning Man and there is a tribe for almost any inclination. Many feature theme camps based on the year’s theme and welcome visitors. You can also form your own. Let’s say you are a purple alien from outer space and can’t find a tribe. Create the Purple Alien from Outer Space Tribe. Odds are there are other purple aliens who will want to join. It’s doubtful that anyone will even recognize that you are an alien. They will just think, “Oh, he’s got a neat costume,” and want to take your picture.

The Peripatetic Bone, held here by Boots and featuring his leather vest, has his own tribe… the Horse-Bone Tribe. He has been visiting Burning Man for years and was even married there to Bonette, a few years ago.

9. Go out into the Night: The Burning Man night is magical. Everyone and thing includes some kind of lighting system including art, people, bikes and mutant vehicles. Most blocks provide entertainment. Is it going to be pole dancing, jazz or vodka creations that capture your imagination? You will think you have entered a different universe.

The front of the Temple at night.

The Temple of Promise at night.

A large group attended an evening discussion on the issue of violence against women.

R-evolutuion lit up at night. Here, a large group attended an evening discussion on the issue of violence against women.

Burning Man dragon created by Flaming Lotus Girls for Burning Man.

A fiery dragon.

Burning Man mutant vehicle. Photo by Curtis Mekemson.

And a mutant vehicle vase.

10. Peruse the Catalogue: You are given a catalogue when you arrive that includes literally hundreds of things you can do at Burning Man ranging from attending a lecture on solar power to having your breasts painted. The various tribes sponsor these events for free as part of Burning Man’s gift-giving culture. You can practice yoga, learn the samba, improve your fire twirling skills, watch a show, and even improve your sex life, regardless of which way you lean. You can also drink. The catalogue lists dozens of bars featuring everything from Bloody Marys to craft beers. One year I found a casket that featured beer spouts.  Drinks are free; bring your own cup. One of the first things I do after setting up camp is to go through the catalogue and check off things I might want to do. Hmmm, I wonder what bondage is like? (Just kidding… but there are opportunities to learn about it, and practice.)

Burning Man may be the greatest show on Earth. Bring along your imagination, sense of humor, and willingness to experience new things.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, are planning on going to Burning Man for your first time, want to learn more about the event, or want to reminisce about past events, I invite you to join me on Fridays for the next couple of months.

The Best of Burning Man: The Top Ten Series (2)… Smaller Sculptures

Going topless isn't uncommon, as demonstrated by this lady sphinx.

I found this lady sphinx quite amusing. In fact, much of the art at Burning Man has an element of humor to it.

 

I am going to be on the road for the next few weeks, so I decided to produce several blogs that might be of interest to my readers but would be easy for me to do: Voila—The Best Of Burning Man series! I’ve now been to Burning Man for ten years starting in 2004 (and will be going again in 2015, assuming I get two tickets and a vehicle pass). Each blog will feature a top ten category such as top ten sculptures, mutant vehicles, etc.

Now, this is important. 1) These are from my perspective. Other people will have different points of view. 2) I never see everything that is available to see at Burning Man. There is simply too much. So it’s quite possible that I have missed some really great things. My apologies. 3) I missed 2011. 4) These photos are not in order of choice. That is beyond me. (Grin)

Basically, this series will include a brief introduction and then my top ten choices. There may be captions on my photos, or not. Finally, while Peggy and I have taken the majority of these photos, I have also included photos from Tom Lovering, Beth Lovering, Don Green, and Ken Lake… all members of our ‘tribe,’ and friends.

Series 2: Sculptures under 20 feet tall

While the large sculptures tend to attract the crowds, smaller works abound at Burning Man. Often, they are exquisite: sometimes they are humorous. These 10 are among my favorites:

"I shot an arrow into the air…"

“I shot an arrow into the air…” A graceful archer aims his arrow at the sky.

I found these cats with their unique look way out on the Playa.

I found these cats with their unique look way out on the Playa.

This dinosaur skeleton was also wandering the Playa.

This dinosaur skeleton was also wandering the Playa.

Love letters in the dust… at Burning Man.

Large letters forming words such as love, mom, and ego make their way to Black Rock City annually.

The Center Camp Cafe is always filled with art, such as this large hand.

The Center Camp Cafe is always filled with art, such as this large hand.

One year a whole family of these fun creatures were out on the Playa.

One year a whole family of these fun creatures were out on the Playa.

These cubes climbing high into the sky weren't actually that high. They were an optical illusion.

These cubes climbing high into the sky weren’t actually that high. They were an optical illusion.

One year, regional groups sponsored art at Burning Man. This impressive bull came out of Texas.

One year, regional groups sponsored art at Burning Man. This impressive bull came out of Texas.

Number 10 was a toss up. I couldn't choose between a fiddling rabbit…

Number 10 was a toss-up. I couldn’t choose between a fiddling rabbit…

…or a Queen Bee with boobs.

…or a Queen Bee with boobs. NEXT POST: Photography, paintings and murals in my Top Ten Series.

Top Five Reasons for Going to Burning Man 2014… by Curtis Mekemson

The Man burns at Burning Man while fireworks shoot across the sky.

The Man burns at Burning Man while meteor-like fireworks shoot across the sky.

I am sitting in my room on the fourteenth floor of the Atlantis Hotel in Reno.  It has a northeast view, which means I am looking toward Black Rock City, some hundred miles away as the crow flies. Snow blankets the distant hills, providing a wintry view of the Nevada desert. It’s the perfect location and day for a Burning Man post.

The view from our window at the Atlantis Hotel in Reno looking northeast. Black Rock City lies beyond the mountains.

The view from our window at the Atlantis Hotel in Reno looking northeast. Black Rock City lies beyond the mountains. A light dusting of snow adds a wintry feeling to the desert.

It’s decision-making time for veteran and newbie burners alike. January and February are the traditional months when Burning Man tickets go on sale– first come, first serve. And they sell fast. If you’ve never been to this wildly unique event in the remote Nevada desert, here are my top five reasons you should add Black Rock City to your bucket list.

I made my first journey to Burning Man in 2003. This photo is taken from 2006 when I posed next to a great ape in an evolution sculpture. Playa dust decorates my hat and T-shirt.

I made my first journey to Burning Man in 2003. This photo was taken by Ken Lake in 2006.  Playa dust decorates my hat and T-shirt. (All photos on this blog are taken by me or by friends.)

1. CREATIVITY: Burning Man is about cutting-edge art, at least for me. It ranges from sublime to whimsical. Examples are everywhere–walk 50 yards in any direction and you will find someone’s personal creation. Much of the art is superb. One measure of the quality is that art made for Burning Man can now be found on display in a number of US cities.

Art at Burning Man can range from the sublime to the...

Art at Burning Man can range from the sublime…

…the not so sublime, as this large Alice in Wonderland rabbit demonstrates. (Photo by Tom Lovering.)

…to the humorous, as this large Alice in Wonderland type rabbit demonstrates. (Photo by Tom Lovering.)

Beautiful women have forever been a prime model for artists. They tend to be monumental in Black Rock City.

Beautiful women have forever served as models for artists. They tend to be monumental in Black Rock City, topping out at over 50 feet.

I am always amused by what is whimsical and slightly quirky. This Burning Man dog seems to fit.

I am always amused by what is whimsical and quirky. This Burning Man dog fits my definition. (Photo by Ken Lake.)

Sphinx sculpture at Burning Man.

As does this suave sphinx.

Many regions around the world have developed thriving Burning Man communities and some have started contributing art to Burning Man. This bull emerging from the Playa was created by the Houston, Texas community of burners.

One of Black Rock City's most memorable sculptures was the Big Rig Jig where two oils tankers were stacked together.

One of Black Rock City’s most memorable sculptures was the Big Rig Jig where two oils tankers were stacked together.

Like statuesque women, dragons are a popular Burning Man art form. This one was capable of breathing fire from its mouth and joints.

Dragons are popular at Burning Man. This one was capable of breathing fire from its mouth and joints.

Beautiful buildings are another art form at Burning Man. Each year a different Temple is created.(Photo by Tom Lovering.)

Beautiful buildings are another art form at Burning Man. Each year a different Temple is created.  (This early morning photo was captured by Tom Lovering.)

This ship was another very impressive structure at Black Rock City.

This large ship was another impressive structure at Black Rock City. The people on deck provide perspective on size.

On a less monumental scale, the Center Camp Cafe at Burning Man is filled with art, such as this turtle.

On a less monumental scale, the Center Camp Cafe at Burning Man is always filled with art, such as this slightly spacey turtle. (Photo by Don Green.)

2. ENTERTAINMENT: When was the last time you were waiting in line at a port-a-potty (maybe you never have), and had a 20-foot tall mastodon pull up and disgorge pirates, aliens, cats, angels and shamans to wait with you? People watching is prime time entertainment at Burning Man, but there is much, much more. Fire dancers, trapeze artists, magicians, actors, jugglers, hula-hoopers, comedians, disk jockeys, and musicians in the hundreds eagerly seek audiences. You can tango, roller skate, bowl, go for a ride on a giant teeter-totter, or join a parade and flaunt whatever you have to flaunt (rabbit ears, for example). Or you can spend your week learning new things. Hundreds of classes ranging from the practical, to the esoteric, to the erotic are available. And to top it all off, there is the burning of the Man, one of the greatest shows on earth. All of this is included with the price of your ticket to Black Rock City.

Mutant vehicle mammoth at Burning Man.

This large mammoth had stopped for a potty break. The halo is a nice touch.

Fire dancer at Burning Man.

A fire dancer performs his art. It takes a brave man to go shirtless while twirling burning objects.

Music is everywhere at Burning Man. Here we have a mobile music player. Who needs an iPod?

Music is everywhere in Black Rock City. Here we have a mobile pianist. Who needs an ipod? Check out the Burning Man symbol on stilt-man’s chest.

Over the week, almost every type of music can be heard at Burning Man. Last year I stopped to listen to a woman singing opera on top of a mutant vehicle. The vehicle shot fire into the air when she hit high notes!

Over the week, almost every type of music can be heard at Burning Man. Last year I stopped to listen to a woman singing opera on top of a mutant vehicle. The vehicle shot fire into the air when she hit high notes!

Burning Man jam session at Temple.

An early morning jam session at the Temple. (Photo by Tom Lovering.)

And on top of a bus."Do you take this man to be your lawfully wedded wife?"

And on top of a bus.

Cyclist knocks down boxes at Burning Man.

Here is a unique form of entertainment involving a cyclist and empty boxes. Crash, restack, crash.

Checking out the hundreds of mutant vehicles at Burning Man is definitely entertainemnt and could take up much of your week.

Checking out the hundreds of mutant vehicles at Burning Man is definitely entertainment and could take up much of your week. I liked the shadow the big guy cast.

Psychedelic box at Burning Man.

Would you be willing to climb into a psychedelic mirror box and have the lid closed? What about if you knew they were going to shake the box?

There is always a sense of being at a three ring circus at Burning Man.

There is always the sense of being at a three ring circus at Burning Man. The entertainment goes on and on – 24/7.

3. MAGIC: Burning Man is interesting, even fascinating during the day. But at night it becomes magical. Fifty thousand people decorate themselves and their bikes with lights and venture out into the dark night. Fire breathing dragons and ghostly desert ships join hundreds of other lit up mutant vehicles in an unending, random parade back and forth across the Playa and along the streets of Black Rock City. Art, too, is lit up, and takes on a totally different personality. The desert night air throbs with music and dancing. Fire dancers appear everywhere, practicing their flaming art singularly or in coordinated groups. Neighborhood bars– there is one on almost every corner– attract regulars and visitors alike with free alcohol, conversation and dancing (Note: you may have to wear pink pajamas, a little black dress or some other getup). A stroll down the mile-plus Esplanade introduces dozens of major entertainment venues. Walk into any one– or all of them– and explore what each has to offer.  The most excitement is generated by the burns;  they light up the night sky and send mutant vehicles, bicyclists and walkers scurrying to catch the latest one. Last year’s major events included a massive burn off of regional art on Thursday, the Man on Saturday, and the Temple on Sunday.

Night brings its own special magic at Burning Man.

Night brings its own special magic at Burning Man. This is another of Burning Man’s annual Temples.

Art is creatively lit and takes on a different personality.

Art is creatively lit and takes on a different personality.

A misty moon added depth to this sculpture.

A misty moon added depth to this sculpture. The Man is off to the right.

Mutant vehicles work their way back and forth across the Playa. Many spout fire.

Mutant vehicles work their way back and forth across the Playa. Many, such as El Pulpo Mechanico, spout fire.

Mutan vehicle vase at Burning Man.

And some inspire by their beauty, such as this vase.

Burning Man mutant vehicle lit up at night.

Another magical mutant vehicle.

The burning of the Man provides Burning Man with its name, but there are many other burns. This was a light house created by burners from the North Coast of California. Last year over 20 regional art pieces were burned simultaneously on Thursday night.

The burning of the Man provides Burning Man with its name, but there are many other burns. This was a light house created by burners from the North Coast of California in 2012. Last year, over 20 regional art pieces located strategically around the Man were burned simultaneously on Thursday night.

The burning of the Temple on Sunday night sends thousands of messages to loved ones wafting into the sky.

The burning of the Temple on Sunday night sends thousands of messages that have been written to loved ones wafting into the sky.

Fireworks provide a sendoff to the burning Man.

Fireworks provide a sendoff to the Man as he begins to burn. Almost everyone in camp attends this event.

Arms raised in salute, Burners bid farewell to the Man as he tumbles into ashes.

Arms raised in salute, Burners bid farewell to the Man as he tumbles into ashes.

4. DESERT: It takes a hardy soul to survive living in the desert. Soaring day time temperatures, freezing cold nights, a desperate lack of water, and raging dust storms are all part of the desert life. But there is also stark beauty and a profound silence (not so much at Black Rock City, but close at 5 AM). The desert is a significant part of the Burning Man experience. Say yes to the heat and cold and beauty and dust and you will have a memory that will last a lifetime and bring you back to the desert time and again.

Dust storm at Burning Man.

Dust storms are a common phenomena of the Black Rock Desert. Accompanying winds can knock down tents. Zero visibility and dust in everything are part of the experience.

But the desert also has great beauty, as this rainbow at Burning Man demonstrates.

But the desert also has great beauty, as this rainbow at Burning Man demonstrates. BTW… things come to a grinding halt during rainstorms. Playa dust turns to glue that sticks to both tires and feet– several inches thick!

Clouds over Black Rock City.

Clouds, following the storm, add their own beauty.

5. COMMUNITY: There are dozens upon dozens of communities at Burning Man based on where you live, who your friends are, and what interests you. The person standing next to you may be a Google founder, Nobel Prize winner, or a Hells Angel. It’s possible she is from nearby Reno, Nevada or far off Auckland, New Zealand.  All age groups and most occupations are represented. Veteran burners mix freely with first timers, known as virgin burners.

What makes Burning Man unique, beyond what I have already listed, is the focus on participation. The event is created by the people who attend. Burners are strongly encouraged to contribute to the community. There are numerous ways to do so. Amuse fellow burners with a great costume or cleverly decorated bike; provide entertainment, food, alcohol, or services; teach people how to meditate, do yoga, or Tango; volunteer to help Burning Man greet people, light lamps or pick up trash– the list goes on and on. All of this is based on Burning Man’s non-commercial, gifting economy. You can neither advertise nor sell things in Black Rock City. With the exception of coffee and tea at the Center Camp Café, ice, and a few necessary RV services, everything is given away for free.

People come from all over the world to participate in Burning Man. Some set up an individual camp while others are members of large theme camps.

People come from all over the world to participate in Burning Man. Some come on their own and set up an individual camp while others are members of large theme camps.

The Sacred Spaces Theme Camp.

The Sacred Spaces Theme Camp.

Wearing a costume is part of the Burning Man experience. A great costume is enjoyed by everyone.

Wearing a costume is part of the Burning Man experience. A great costume is enjoyed by everyone. (Photo by Don Green.)

A well decorated bike is also a way to "gift" other burners.

A well decorated bike is also a way to “gift” other burners.

As is a fierce mutant dragon.

As is bringing a fierce mutant dragon.

Or a ride on a sailing ship. (Photo by Peggy.)

Or offering a ride on a sailing ship. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

The California Library's form of gifting is giving away books, hundreds of them.

The California Library theme camp gives away books, hundreds of them.

This woman had a unique way of gifting. She carried around an ice block and then put her icy hands on your face, which was perfect for a hot desert day. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

This woman had a unique way of gifting. She carried around an ice block and then put her icy hands on your face, which was perfect for a hot desert day. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.) Our tie-dye  T-shirts were close to matching.

Fixing bikes is another important form of gifting at Burning Man. Beth is a master mechanic who owns a bike shop in Davis. My van Quivera provides the backdrop for the photo.

Fixing bikes is another form of gifting at Burning Man. Beth Lovering is a master bike mechanic who owns a bike shop in Davis. My van, Quivera, provides the backdrop for the photo.

Burning Man has numerous opportunities to volunteer, such as being a lamplighter and helping to light the hundreds of lamps that adorn the night.

Burning Man has numerous opportunities to volunteer, such as being a lamplighter and helping to light the hundreds of lamps that adorn the night.

Or greet people when they arrive at Burning Man as these two welcomed Peggy and I.

Or working as greeters and welcoming  people when they arrive at Burning Man.

THE 2014 THEME: Each year Burning Man comes up with a theme that inspires art, costumes and villages. Last year’s theme was Cargo Cults. This year it is Caravansary. It may be the best theme yet. Think of the Silk Road that connected the mysterious Far East with Europe from Roman times into the middle Ages. Picture caravans of camels, Arabian horses and Mongol ponies carrying exotic spices, silk, and other valuable trade goods as well as new ideas through forests, deserts and mountains for thousands of miles– all the while keeping a wary eye out for bandits. Imagine what life was like in the great trading cities of Xanadu and Samarkand, places that literally define exotic. The Silk Road provided an open invitation to adventure and new experiences. I am excited to see what Burning Man’s creative minds can do with the concept.

This is Burning Man's official 'logo' for 2014… an invitation to adventure.

This is Burning Man’s official ‘logo’ for 2014… an invitation to adventure.

CAUTION: Burning Man is not for every one. Partial nudity is common. The F word may be blasted from mega speaker systems. You are expected to be totally self-reliant, that is bring your own food and water, plus what you need to survive a week of desert weather. And, as I mentioned above, the desert can be challenging. People with health problems need to think through the ramifications of a week in the desert with limited services. No pets are allowed. I wouldn’t bring kids. But there are a few children present; there is even a children’s theme camp that is chock full of kid-based activities. (And I did see parents who were doing a great job with their children.)

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: I highly recommend that people who are considering their first trip to Black Rock City do serious research. Odds are you will know veteran burners who can serve as an excellent source of advice. Also check out the Burning Man website. It includes everything you need to know about the event and is mandatory reading. Sign up for Jackrabbit Speaks for ongoing, up-to-the minute-year-round information. Beyond this, there are hundreds of blogs, media articles, and photo sites. Google Burning Man and browse to your heart’s content. Speaking of Google, check out Google Images for Burning Man. Dozens of photographers with links back to sites are included, including mine: Wandering through Time and Place.

One final source: I blogged extensively about last year’s Burning Man. Go here and scroll forward.

Burning Man 2013… Is It on Your Bucket List?

The Burning Man festival, which takes place each year around Labor Day in the remote Black Rock Desert of Northern Nevada, has become a Bucket List event for thousands of people.

The Burning Man festival, which takes place each year around Labor Day in the remote Black Rock Desert of Northern Nevada, has become a Bucket List event for thousands of people.

Peggy and I have our 2013 Burning Man tickets!

I  dutifully checked in a week early, received my authorization code, and then jumped on the Net when Burning Man opened its general sale of 40,000 tickets. I was put in the queue line. I would have my opportunity to shell out $720 for two tickets (two are all you are allowed to buy) when my number came up… if there were any tickets left. Burning Man made it clear; there were no guarantees. Everything was on a “first come first serve” basis.

I was worried. Three days earlier I had upgraded my Hugh’s Satellite Internet Service. (Peggy and I live out in the woods beyond the reach of normal Internet.) Apparently the upgrade impacted my ability to get on AOL where I had stored my authorization code, a fact I learned 10 minutes before the sale started. Forty minutes later I had worked my way around the problem. Was I too late?

Three hours… that’s how long I waited in the queue, and I am not good at waiting. I twiddled my thumbs, read the newspaper (yes, they still exist), and read several chapters in a book by Nicholas Carr on how the Internet is shaping our brains. It’s making us less patient. Finally, I was allowed to buy my tickets. I figured I was probably number 39,998.

My friend Tom Lovering, AKA Adios at Burning Man, who had been warning me for days via phone and Email not to miss the sign-up, failed to get tickets. So it will be Craig’s list for him in August. Several hundred if not thousand people will have discovered by then they can’t go and will need to sell their tickets.

So was it worth the hassle? My response is a definite yes! Burning Man is a Bucket List kind of event. I been going since 2004 and it’s still on my bucket list. Every year is different. Burning Man is so big and so diverse, there are always new things to see and experience. Last year’s program, make that catalog, listed over a thousand different events… all free.

I will be blogging about various aspects of Burning Man every week or so over the next several months leading up to the event. I will also continue my series on Mediterranean Ports I visited a couple of months ago. This summer I will feature the trip up the Alaska Highway through Canada and the Yukon Territory to Alaska that Peggy and I are making. As always, there will be lots of photos.

Burners, as BM participants are called, watch in fascination as the Man burns (shown above) in 2012. A mechanical steam-punk octopus lurks in the background.

Burners, as BM participants are called, watch in fascination as the Man burns in 2012. A mechanical steampunk octopus lurks in the background.

Elaborate costumes are an important part of the Burning Man experience. (Photo by Don Green.)

Elaborate costumes are an important part of the Burning Man experience. (Photo by Don Green.)

Hundreds of Mutant Vehicles, such as this Mammoth, make there way through camp and back and forth across the Playa.

Hundreds of Mutant Vehicles, such as this Mammoth, make their way through camp and back and forth across the Playa. I took this photo from our camp.

Hundreds of works of art are displayed annually at Burning Man. This woman, who was kneeling, stood at least 15 feet tall.

Hundreds of works of art are displayed annually at Burning Man. This woman, who was kneeling, stood at least 15 feet tall.

Art comes in all shapes, colors and sizes. Here, a pair of mantises face off.

Art comes in all shapes and sizes. Here, a pair of colorful mantises face off far out in the Playa.

Much art is made to be interactive. Here, burners were invited to walk through the ant farm tunnels. The farm was at least 50 feet tall. Big Ants.

Much art is made to be interactive. Here, burners were invited to walk through the ant farm tunnels. The farm was at least 50 feet tall. Big Ants.

Regional art has been added to Burning Man over the last three years. This Texas Longhorn came from Texas. (Photo by Tom Lovering)

Regional art has been added to Burning Man over the last three years. This Texas Longhorn came from, no surprise, Texas. (Photo by Tom Lovering)

The Black Rock Desert can be quite beautiful, as this rainbow demonstrates.

The Black Rock Desert can be quite beautiful, as this rainbow demonstrates.

Over the next few months, I'll be blogging about various aspects of Burning Man. Join me.

Over the next few months, I’ll be blogging about various aspects of Burning Man. Join me. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

NEXT BLOG: The beautiful walled city of Dubrovnik on the coast of the Adriatic Sea in Croatia.

Next Burning Man blog: This year’s theme is Cargo Cult. What does it mean? I will use themes from other years as examples.

The Fiery Demise of Regional Art… Burning Man 2012

 

Fire is a powerful force of nature. We are drawn by both its beauty and danger. But it can also be a symbol of impermanence. This photo shows people with a ‘front-row seat’ at Burning Man 2012 watching flames devour one of thirty-plus regional effigies burned simultaneously.

One explanation for burning art at Burning Man is that it reflects the impermanence of everything in life. Things don’t last forever; they decay and fall apart. Fire speeds the process along. You have construction and you have deconstruction. Let go. It’s an Eastern philosophy that has made its way into western thought.

But fire has it’s own attraction. We are drawn to its beauty and danger like moths. Our brains are hard-wired with the fascination of watching things burn.

When I was growing up, my father served as a volunteer fireman. He was an electrician and it was his job to show up first at fires and disconnect the power to burning houses so firemen didn’t have live wires bouncing around. That explained his presence at the fire… but not that of his wife, three kids and cocker spaniel.

Mother never missed a fire in our small town. It didn’t matter if we were in the middle of dinner or it was 3 AM. Pop was out of the house and running for the fire station when the siren went off. Mother was gathering us up and dashing for our well-used car. Tickle the Dog jumped in first.

I’ve often wondered if Pop found our presence embarrassing. I do remember him telling Mother once that he preferred that she not be the first car behind the fire truck, which is where she liked to be.

Mother would have loved the excitement of watching things burn at Black Rock City. I suspect that the majority of Burners are closer to her reaction to fire than they are to the philosophical and psychological implications of deconstruction and Zen.

Still, there is a definite release of emotion at the climax of a fire when the structure finally crashes down, when ultimate deconstruction takes place. It was powerful feeling when I was growing up and it is powerful at Burning Man.

Burning Man 2012 added a new twist to its art of burning (or burning of art). Over thirty effigies built by regions from Lithuania to Maine and placed in a circle around the Man were put to torch simultaneously on Thursday evening. It was a spectacular event. Those responsible for creating the art were responsible for burning it.

Because the burn was spread out over a large section of the playa, spectators had a front row seat as is demonstrated in the photo at the top of this post.

Members of the Horse-Bone Tribe ended up focusing on two of the effigies: Kokopelli and the Lighthouse. Punkin Beth and Adios Tom’s home in Davis California is crammed with Kokopelli art. Peggy and I wander the West photographing Native American rock art including Kokopelli. All of us love the rugged coast of Northern California and its lighthouses.

The following photos feature the burning of the Lighthouse, Kokopelli and other nearby art.

Kokopelli was a trickster and a god of fertility of Native American and First Nation tribes from Canada to Mexico. New Mexico Burners chose him to represent their region at Burning Man 2012. Here he is in her first stage of burning along with 30-plus regional effigies.

In this picture, Kokopelli Rising is close to being totally engulfed in flame but he continues to play his flute, working to entice fair indian maidens.

Baby Brulee, New Orleans’ contribution to regional art at Burning Man 2012, lit up the sky next to Kokopelli.

Baby Brulee in his final stages.

I included this photo of the Queen Bee (Secret of the Bees) created by Utah Burners for Black Rock City in my last blog.

Here, the Queen Bee burns down.

As Kokopelli fell into the flames we turned our attention to the Lighthouse or the Twisted Upright House as the North Bay Burners from California referred to their work of art.

The Lighthouse was designed to burn for a long time and provide a beacon in the Black Rock Desert.

As more and more of the regional effigies completed their burns, Burning Man participants gathered around the Lighthouse. The mutant vehicle known at the Octopus lets out a fiery blast in the background.

The Twisted Upright House was still burning when we finally left. The colored  lights are from two mutant vehicles. The red one displays a long shark’s body.

 

 

 

 

From South Africa to Texas… Burning Man 2012 Regional Art

This bull rising out of the sand is titled ReinCOWnation by the Houston, Texas Burners who created him for Burning Man 2012.

Larry Harvey, the founder of Burning Man, is a visionary with long-term plans. What started as a local burn on the beach in San Francisco in 1986 has grown into a worldwide phenomenon with local Burners from South Africa to Texas reproducing regionally the experiences they have had in the remote Black Rock Desert of Northern Nevada.

This regionalization was demonstrated at Burning Man 2012 when 34 wooden effigies designed and built by local groups were placed in a circle around the Man. They were burned simultaneously on Thursday night in an impressive ceremony of just how far Burning Man’s roots have extended.

I am going to introduce several of the regional art works today and include links to where more information can be found about each piece. In my last blog on Burning Man’s 2012 art, I noted that I was limited to a few representative pieces. This is also true of the regional art. Go to Burning Man’s art core project to learn about the overall effort and other included effigies.

In my next blog, I will cover Thursday’s fiery end of the regional art.

I never realized that queen bees were amply endowed. But apparently they are according to Utah Burners who built this sculpture named the Secret of Bees. (Photo by Tom Lovering)

This was my view of the lady bee. Each year Burning Man selects a theme for the year. In 2012 it was fertility. Most of the regional art is tied to this theme.

Speaking of fertility, South Africa Burners brought Jozi to Burning Man 2012. This sculpture is a replica of an African fertility god.

Native Americans historically turned to Kokopelli for help with fertility. Ancient rock art representations of this trickster god and his large, um appendage, can be found from Canada to Mexico. Versions found in gift shops throughout the West have been sanitized. New Mexico Burners were responsible for bringing Kokopelli Rising to Burning Man. (Photo by Tom Lovering)

The end result of all this emphasis on fertility is of course a baby, or Baby Bon Temps Brulee, as named by New Orleans Burners. It is easy to picture King Baby on top of a Mardi Gras float.

Moving away from the Fertility theme, the Burners of the Great Lakes region created Soul Train for Burning Man. (Photo by Beth Lovering)

Making its way across the Ocean and US, the Viking ship Naglfar sailed into the Black Rock Desert courtesy of Burners from Denmark and Sweden.

Maine Burners appropriately brought “Happy as a Clam” to Black Rock City. In fact many of the regions, like the Danes above, created art that was representative of their area.

If you have ever driven or walked through downtown Reno, you will certainly recognize the inspiration for “Gateway” created by Nevada Burners. Reno has claimed the title “Biggest Little City in the World” for decades.

Dallas Burners brought a sculpture, the Hatchery, to Burning Man 2012 that produced fire art at night. Much of Burning Man art is designed to light up the night.

The Dragon Lotus from Denver.

My favorite among the regional art pieces was the lighthouse created by Burners from Northern California. This work of art was created from driftwood found along the North Coast, one of my favorite playgrounds.

Another view of the lighthouse. North Bay Burners titled their work “The Twisted Upright House.”

A final view featuring the stained glass windows on top. The windows were removed before the lighthouse was burned on Thursday night, an event which I will show in my next blog.

From a Sinking Ship to a Huge EGO… Burning Man 2012 Art

Whimsical always wins me over. This is one cool cat… or is that cat woman. I had to travel far out on the Playa to find the cat sculptures.

Face it; I am frustrated. It is impossible to cover all of the art featured at Burning Man. In fact with over 300 works of art scattered over the seven square miles that constitutes Black Rock City, it was impossible for me to even get around and admire each piece. Maybe if I had devoted 24/7… but Burning man provides many distractions.

All I can offer is a tantalizing sample… and a recommendation: if you enjoy this art and you have never been to Burning Man, put the event on your schedule for the future.

A final note before I jump into photographs: this year featured regional art from groups that are organizing local Burning Man activities from around the US and world. I will cover this art, and its fiery demise, in my next blog.

Another photo of the denizens of the outer Playa at Burning Man. One gets a sense of how far out they are by the lack of people in the background.

Imagine cycling across the desert and seeing in the distance a partially sunken 16th Century Spanish galleon. It’s almost unbelievable but at Burning Man you learn to expect the unusual. Artist Matthew Schultz headed up this project.

What amazed me even more was the attention to detail, right down to the masthead. The story behind the sunken ship is that it crashed into the pier.

Further attention to detail, plus a sense of humor, was found below decks. Note the long fingers and the modern coffee cup.

The pier, without the ship, was a very popular sculpture in 2011.

It is difficult to be an artist, or a writer… or even a blogger for that matter, without a little ego. This is a big one.

Since the artist, Laura Kimpton, and I are both somewhat dyslexic, I thought I would reverse the E.

Replicas of 10,000 trophies went into creating EGO.

Wall Street, photographed here from the Man, was another major installation at Burning Man 2012. Otto Von Danger is the artist.

Buildings were given such names as the Bank of UnAmerica and Chaos Manhattan. The Greek front is a replica of the NYSE.

Like in many urban settings, graffiti was rampant. But we can all dream our financial institutions will become a little less greedy and a little more responsible. Wall Street was burned but not the American flag.

“It takes a village…” (Photo by Tom Lovering)

I found this large Praying Mantis and several buggy companions out on the far Playa. My bike, Horse with No Name, waits patiently. (I trust you will recognize the song “I rode through the desert on a horse with no name.”)

This sculpture by artist Kate Radenbush is called Star Seed. I thought of it as ‘fantasy arising from the dust.’ And why not. Participants are expected to put their own twist on Burning Man art.

I did wonder whether we are seeding the stars or they are seeding us.

If you look closely, you will note that this man’s skin is made completely of watch parts. I also liked the see through quality as you look up at the sky over Black Rock City.

Another of the wonderfully quirky works of art found out on the Playa at Burning Man 2012. (Photo by Tom Lovering.)

One sculpture featured a series of quotes. I found these two by Albert Einstein and Danny Kaye particularly appropriate for closing my blog on Burning Man 2012 art.

From Daliesque to Mandalesque… Burning Man Art

it isn’t unusual to find artists at work during Burning Man. This Burner was creating a painting at Center Camp.

I want to express my appreciation to WordPress for featuring my Burning Man Mutant Vehicle blog on Freshly Pressed. It is truly an honor. 

Art is often the focus of my Burning Man Blogs. This year I have featured sculpture, mutant vehicles and costumes. Paintings of various types are also common in Black Rock City. They range from mural to mystic. My blog today will take a quick look at Burning Man’s non-sculpture art.

Salvador Dali would have stopped to appreciate this work.

I am heading out to Burning Man as this blog is posted. I am excited… almost as excited as I was when I made my first journey in 2004. Burning Man lists 354 art pieces for 2012. Ninety-three are scheduled to go up in flame. There will be much to blog about. Internet service is limited at Burning Man. I will blog from there if possible. Otherwise check back in a week.Thanks for stopping by.

A vacant fence becomes an excuse for mural art at Burning Man. I like the bright colors and the facial expressions on the fish and sea horses.

Luna, AKA Peggy, checks out a giant BUNNY in this mural. Odds are it is connected with the Billion Bunny March which makes its way through Black Rock City.

Eastern mysticism often makes its way into Burning Man art. Several huge paintings were on the inside wall of a 20 foot high tent. They were lit up by the sun much like a stained glass window in a church.

This painting had the feel of a mandala to it. I felt myself being drawn in.

I’ve already featured the photo montages of Montage Camp but I like their work enough to post two more.

What I like so much about the Montage Camp artists in Black Rock City is their ability to capture the feel of Burning Man.

Many art projects in Black Rock City are interactive. I caught Luna checking out her image in a kaleidoscope.

I found these mirrors at Burning Man created a Picasso-like Cubist self-portrait.