From the Sublime to the Weird… Burning Man Murals and Paintings

T-Rex looking for dinner at Burning Man back when the playa was an ocean.

As you might expect, mural art and paintings at Burning Man reflect the event. Much of the art has a mystic feel about it with both Eastern and Western influences. Surrealism also seems to have found a home at Burning Man. Then there is the fun— bordering on strange— art that always appeals to my sense of weird. Following are examples of what I see as I ride my bike or walk around Black Rock City and out in the Playa.

I am going to start with what I call Chakra art that takes its inspiration from Eastern mysticism. A Chakra, simply put, represents seven levels of awareness or spiritual power in the human body that work their way up your spine starting with basic urges and ending with higher consciousness. Meditation is the primary tool that mystics use to reach the higher levels.

Chakra art doesn’t get much clearer than this. Beyond the primary chakra points are a multitude of secondary points. This fellow also comes with an aura.

Maybe you can even get high enough to earn a halo. This one features several languages.

An eagle and a buzzard have arrived here.

This mural portrays a woman meditating. Off to the left is a chakra.

Mandalas are aids in meditation. I feel like this one could take me into infinity.

Of course there is much more to eastern mysticism and myths than meditation and chakras. Traveling farther east to China, we have this magnificent dragon.

What I call Nature art focuses on our deep connection with all life on earth and has a more Western/shamanistic feel to it that is more reflective of what we find in Native American, First Nation, and South American native traditions, as well as other animistic cultures throughout the world.

A shaman sits in a meditative pose while jaguars peer out of the jungle and a snake circles his body. I was amused to see that he is wearing a watch.

This painting also makes me think Shaman.

I am fascinated with the art at Burning Man that combines people and the natural world.

Another example.

How about this for a hair do?

This woman is morphing into an owl, or vis-versa.

Bird eyes.

A touch of green.

The tree of life and death with the left side representing nature and the right side our industrial civilization (sort of like a page out of Dante’s Inferno).

Surrealism is, well, Daliesque.

Mr. Surreal, himself.

A surreal landscape featuring Burning Man founders, I believe, along with several Burning Man icons such as El Pulpo Mechanico looming in the background.

A surreal dragonfly.

And a sort of surreal painting featuring lips, a red candelabra, light fixtures and speakers as UFOs, and apparently people worshipping all of the above.

I will conclude with several paintings/murals that fit my description of fun, funky, and possibly weird.

This mural should easily qualify as weird.

As does this painting of ‘children’ playing.

Peggy stands next to a giant rabbit. One of the events at Burning Man includes a thousand or more people dressing up like rabbits and parading around Black Rock City.

How about ostriches with people heads?

One year Burning Man had a circus theme that led to the creation of all kinds of strange circus art.

My favorite from the circus art.

The fish were fun, especially the one on the right with the teeth.

This was strange…

As was this beetle.

I’ll conclude with another favorite of mine: a 3-D Bossy.

NEXT BLOGS:

Monday: It’s back to the Oregon coast to visit a cave filled with sea lions, plus another lighthouse.

Wednesday: Bone is found and a rattlesnake threatens to bite me on the butt.

Friday: Burners and their costumes at Burning Man.

 

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.

The Beautiful Temples of Black Rock City… A Burning Man Experience

This is the Temple of Promise from Burning Man 2015, a simple and beautiful structure designed to capture the early morning sun.

 

Census figures from Burning Man show that 71% of the participants claim to have no formal religious affiliation. Given this, it might seem strange that a temple is one of the major structures built in Black Rock City each year. But there is another factor at work here; over 50% of Burners claim that they are spiritual. While they may not adhere to any particular religious doctrine, they believe that they are part of a whole that is beyond any individual’s existence. Or, at least, that’s how I interpret being spiritual. It’s how I feel.

Whatever Burners believe, there is no doubt that visiting the temple can be a spiritual experience. In addition to being a place of beauty, as I hope the photos in this post show, the Temple is a place where 10,000’s of messages are left honoring loved ones who have passed on, asking forgiveness and expressing thanks. At the end of the week, the Temple is burned and the messages drift off into the air or, the Heavens if you prefer, giving a sense of peace to those who have left them.

Part of a larger structure, this temple was built in 2007 and was known as the Temple of Forgiveness.

This was the 2008 Temple. (Photo by Ken Lake.)

The curving wood on top of the Fire of Fires Temple reflected flames shooting into the sky. Note the intricate detail on the side panels.

A close up.

The Fire of Fires Temple at night. (Photo by Don Green.)

The Temple of Flux represented the constant change we experience in life. It can be seen as waves or as sand dunes. This photo was taken from the Man. The Center Camp Cafe, the Man, and the Temple are always in a direct line. The buildings on the other side represented a city.

Tom likes to get up early in the morning for his photography. He captured this photo of the Temple of Juno at sunrise. (Photo by Tom Lovering.)

Here’s another. (Photo by Tom Lovering.)

A later photo by me showing detail of the Temple of Juno.

The Temple of Whollyness resembled a Pyramid.

This large stone structure was inside the Temple of Whollyness.

The Temple of Grace was built for the 2014 Burning Man.

I liked this shot I caught of its spire under butter milk skies.

The Temple of Grace at night. (Photo by Don Green.)

Another photo of the Temple of Promise. I had taken Tom’s advice and rolled out early to capture these photos.

As the sun came up, Burners grabbed each other’s hands and formed a large circle around the Temple. The act was totally spontaneous.

A black and white I created.

Inside the Temple.

As I mentioned, thousands of messages are placed on the walls. By Saturday, there is little room to write on left within reach.

I found this message left behind honoring Uno Hogan quite touching. I think you will as well. It is quite typical of messages found in the temple.

And this message humorous but sincerely meant!

The Temples are always burned on Sunday night, the last night at Burning Man, in a solemn and moving ceremony with the thousands of messages sent skyward. This is the Temple of Juno.

A note on the photographers: All photos that I include in the Burning Man blogs are taken by Peggy, me, or members of the Horse Bone Tribe— all close friends who have traveled and adventured with us down through the years.

NEXT BLOGS:

Monday: Back to Bandon on the coast of Oregon.

Wednesday: I begin my story of how Bone was found.

Friday: I continue my exploration of the unique and beautiful structures at Burning Man.

 

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 Major Art Installations from Burning Man’s History

The Big Rig Jig was made up of two oil tanker trucks, taken apart and put back together.

I’ll be journeying to Burning Man alone this year. I obtained my ticket in February. Peggy joined the long queue for tickets on Wednesday, all to no avail. When she was finally moved to the ticket purchase site, the message was that all 30,000 tickets had been sold out. (The other 40,000 tickets are distributed in other ways.) Neither are other members of the Horse Bone Tribe going this year. So, it’s back to me, like it was in 2004, when I went by myself except for my friend Ken Lake. I’ll miss my friends, especially Peggy, but I am okay with going alone. I can easily spend eight days exploring and photographing the art.

Today I am featuring ten of the major art installations I have enjoyed the most over the years. This doesn’t include buildings like the temples, which will have their own posts. Since I missed four years when I was off wandering or had ended up on the wrong end of the Burning Man ticket circus, there are undoubtedly other pieces I would include.  Also, I already included a post on the 40 to 60-foot-tall sculptures of women that are definitely among my favorites.

Another view of the Big Rig Jig. I felt a bit nervous standing underneath it.

Often the major art installations are tied into Burning Man’s Theme for the year. In 2007 the theme was “The Green Man,” which had an environmental emphasis. The Big Rig Jig tied into the impact of oil.

I’ve always considered this intricate white tower beautiful.

A close up of the top.

This massive sailing ship appeared to be sinking into the Playa.

A front view of the sailing ship. I thought that the detail was incredible. The ship was built in Reno.

As is often the case at Burning Man, what was inside the art piece was also fun and interesting. I like the stylish hat.

Dragons are common at Burning Man. This one, protecting its egg, is my favorite.

I don’t think I would be tempted to harm its baby.

Especially at night.

Buck Rogers would have been happy with this rocket ship. Peggy provides perspective.

Medusa with her snaky hair was one of the most unusual sculptures at Burning Man.

Her wiggly hairdo from the back.

And at night.

The inner children of these two estranged adults reach out to each other.

I have always liked this bike sculpture that was located in front of the Center Camp Cafe because of the significance of bikes for transportation at Burning Man.

The top of the heap, so to speak.

This giant couple embraced. The Man looks on from the left.

A close up.

This art was located in the head of one of the sculptures.

At night.  A red, high-heel mutant vehicle is in the foreground. (Photo by Don Green.)

A coyote raises its head to howl. (Photo by Tome Lovering.)

A tail view of the coyote.

I chose the coyote at night for my last photo today. The two bright lights on his head are from headlamps of people climbing the sculpture.

NEXT BLOGS:

Monday: Back to the Oregon coast with a visit to the town of Astoria on the mouth of the Columbia River.

Wednesday: I’ve often mentioned the Horse Bone Tribe and Camp at Burning Man. This is the story of the horse bone, or Bone, as he prefers to be known.

Friday: A continuation of my Burning Man art series with a final look at sculptures.

From a Giant Rabbit to The Old Woman’s Shoe… More Whimsical and Weird Sculptures of Burning Man

This huge rabbit out on the Playa had a message of love, transformation and living in the present. After staring at it for a moment, I thought it might also be a lesson in watching which brownies you eat at Burning Man. (Photo by Tom Lovering.)

I am going to wrap up my posts on whimsical and weird sculptures at Burning Man with something of a hodgepodge today. Bugs Bunny is a good place to start. I had looked at this sculpture from several angles before the rabbit made its sudden and obvious appearance. And I am pretty sure that is what the artist meant to happen. The big Alice in Wonderland type rabbit at the top was much less subtle!

I was thinking that this was a random, modern art kind of wood sculpture as I walked around it at Burning Man…

And then I came to this view and thought immediately of the ‘wascally wabbit,’ Bugs Bunny. For those of you not up on your cartoon history, “wascally wabbit’ is what Elmer Fudd called Bugs,

Our friend Tom Lovering took the photo of the zonked out rabbit at the top of the post. Here Tom is snuggling up to a Playa dinosaur. The look on Dino’s face is what led me to include it here with my whimsical and weird photos. It’s kind of the look of a puppy after it has puddled on your floor.

The dinosaur.

The bone tree has been around Burning Man for as long as I have, I think. At least I can never remember not seeing it since I first started in 2004. It lives at First Camp where most of the original organizers of the event hang out. The combination of skulls and bones place it in my weird category. Liking weird, it has always been a favorite of mine.

The Bone Tree at Burning Man is a regular at the event.

Here’s a close up.

The Bone Tree comes with its own set of wheels so it can move around.

The old woman’s shoe, a fork of cork, an excitable mantis, metal devils, giant specks, and a couple of toothy sculptures finish out my selection for today.

“There was an old woman who lived in a shoe. She had so many children she didn’t no what to do.” I like to add ‘obviously.’ How would you like to have that guy outside your window? I’d be dialing 911!

Another view of the shoe.

I thought these glasses with their blue eyes made an interesting sculpture. The Man can be seen in the distance.

Does this fellow with his fish strike you as weird?

Metal devils seem to be a thing at Burning Man. The teeth are marvelous.

I was always pleased with the way I caught this fellow with his red background, especially the way it shows through his right eye. Evil!

And then there was this scary praying mantis that appeared out of a dust storm.

Its front legs are something else! I don’t think you would want a hug.

Okay, this is fun. It wouldn’t be nearly as much if you didn’t know that the fabulous bathrooms are porta-potties, which can be far from fabulous!

Have you ever seen a cork fork?

How about a fork in the road?

Definitely weird.

This little shark that found a home way out on the Playa just had to make it into this collection. I’ll close with it.

A Big Bosomed Bee, Curious Cats, and Other Whimsical Art of Burning Man

I came across these cats a few years back way out on the Playa, about as far as you can get from Black Rock City and still be in the area fenced off for Burning Man. They definitely meet my description for whimsical.

 

It’s photo Friday for me where I put out a blog that is long on photography and short (or at least shorter) on words. I’ve been concentrating on Burning Man the past several weeks and will continue for a few more. I have my ticket for 2017 so I am excited. Hopefully next week, we will get a ticket for Peggy as well.

 

It isn’t just anywhere you would expect to find a big bosomed bee. But then again, you never know what to expect at Burning Man. Someone must have had a lot of fun crocheting the bra.

 

Having tackled the giant women of Burning Man, I’ve been thinking about what to feature next on Burning Man sculptures. Like mutant vehicles, there are so many it is difficult to choose and even harder to organize. I started by going through my photo library and picking out a few I thought might be of interest. That got me down to 1500. I think you can see my problem. “Okay, Curt, focus!” I admonished as I scrolled through the 1500 photos for the third time.

There are categories, sort of. They are totally arbitrary and from my perspective. But it’s a start. So today, I am going to feature what I find humorous, whimsical and weird, recognizing that the three are often combined in my mind. There are enough here that I will be presenting more over the weekend.

Dogs aren’t allowed at Burning Man, but they made an exception for this fellow in 2006.

My friend Ken decided that the dog was large enough to ride, but was a little confused as to the direction. Meanwhile, the dog’s family looked on, including…

Mr. Big Bottom…

Miss Short Legs…

And Miss Long Legs.

Pucker up…

And meet a suave Sphinx.

Ready for a little monkey business?

Or maybe some big monkey business? All dressed up in his pink tutu, Kong is ready to go out on the town.

Do you want to dance?

The sound man is ready…

With his necklace of speakers.

The hare will fiddle… (Photo by our friend Don Green.)

And the turtle will dance with you. (Photo by Don Green.)

Tomorrow’s Blog: More humorous, whimsical, and weird Burning Man sculptures.

 

Colossal Women… The Sculptures of Burning Man

Sculpture Truth is Beauty by Marco Cochrane at Burning Man 2013

Truth Is Beauty is one of three colossal sculptures created for Burning Man by the Bay Area artist Marco Cochrane. Each of these sculptures captures the beauty of the female form but goes further. Marco’s works are designed to help us see women as total human beings instead of objects. Not to detract from Cochrane’s message, but I decided to kick off today’s post with this photo because I spotted a bit of green along with the truth. Happy St. Pat’s Day.

 

Now that I have finished my series on Burning Man’s creative and sometimes wacky mutant vehicles, I am ready to take on another aspect of the art that seems to bloom and thrive in the Black Rock Desert, sculpture. I am going to start with something big, really big— colossal women. We are talking 40 to 60-foot-tall sculptures here! Three artists have been responsible for creating the giant women of Black Rock City, Marco Cochrane, Karen Cusolito and Dan Das Mann.

Das Mann and Cusolito, working as a team, produced a series of works at Burning Man between 2005 and 2007. Mann’s interest in monumental art started with a degree in Landscape Architecture from Rutgers University. Cusolito’s introduction to the art world followed a more formal path with studying at the Rhode Island School of Design and Massachusetts College of Art.

These photos are from Mann and Cusolito’s 2006 and 2007 art at Burning Man.

My introduction to the art of Karen Cusolito and Dan Das Mann was this tall woman with her arms reaching toward the sky. She was located in front of the Center Camp Cafe which is considered a position of honor for art at Burning Man.

She was accompanied by this woman kneeling in supplication.

Another photo of the two with the Black Rock Desert for background.

This one shows the art’s location in relation to Burning Man’s Center Camp Cafe.

Close up of the ‘skin.’

For 2007, Cusolito and Das Mann created Crude Awakening.

This sculpture caught my attention. Fire shoots out from the hands.

Check out the chain hair.

Marco Cochrane was born in Italy to American parents in 1962 and raised in the Bay Area. According to his website, “he identified with the female struggle with oppression and saw feminine energy and power as critical to the world’s balance.” His art reflects this belief. In 2007 he attended Burning Man and would have seen the sculptures by Das Mann and Cusolito. Eventually, he returned to Burning Man in 2010 with the first of his own colossal sculptures, Bliss Dance. In 2013 he brought Truth Is Beauty to Burning Man and in 2015, R-Evolution. I’ve blogged about each of these creations in the past. Following are a few of our photos.

 

Cochrane’s first work, Bliss Dance, was my favorite. She now resides in Las Vegas just off of the Strip.

I like the playful nature of Bliss Dance.

Marco Cochrane's Bliss Dance at Burning Man.

A close up.

I introduced this post with a night photo of Truth Is Beauty. The sculpture shares this picture with other Burning Man art.

This photo provides a side view. The people give perspective.

A back view. Each of Cochrane’s works are powerful from any angle.

R-Evolution is the third and final of Cochrane’s sculptures at Burning Man. I like how R-Evolution fits in with the mountains here. (Photo by our friend Don Green.)

A night-time view of R-Evolution’s back.

And a front view to complete this post.

NEXT BLOGS

Something Fishy.

The Sierra Trek: We backpack through 106 degree weather, and the Sheriff pays us a visit.

More of Burning Man sculptures.

 

Mutant Vehicles IV… The Creativity and Magic of Burning Man

The thing about mutant vehicles is you never know what people are going to come up with, like this telephone: Off ‘Da Hook! Burning Man is an “Off ‘Da Hook” kind of place.

I could go on and on with mutant vehicles. Their sheer numbers and variety speak to the creativity and magic of Burning Man. But the camps, sculptures, temples, painting, costumes, performance art, the Man, and even bicycles also speak to the creativity, so I need to move on. Mainly, up until now, I have focused on vehicles that tend to stand out and draw crowds. Nothing is better at this than El Pulpo Mecanico.  There are dozens of other vehicles that also deserve attention that I haven’t covered yet, however. (And I wasn’t around in 2016 to see the latest creations!)

One mutant vehicle I haven’t featured yet, Never Was Haul, is right up there with El Pulpo Mecanico and the Rhino Redemption from my perspective. It’s here today, but there are also dragons and bugs and ships and animals and some really weird stuff. Oh my! Enjoy. (Unless noted otherwise, all of the photos are by Peggy and me.)

I selected this photo of Never Was Haul from my longtime friend Tom Lovering because it is one of his all-time favorite mutant vehicles. I would describe it as a combination of a steam train engine and a Victorian house.

Caboose mutant vehicle at Burning Man.

Trains are one of the themes for mutant vehicles. This caboose fits right in.

Steam engine Mutant Vehicle at Burning Man.

As does this steam engine. The grill on the front of this steam engine and Never Was Haul is known as a cattle catcher, BTW. I am not sure that the cow is in any better condition after a collision with a train, but the engine is. They also work for moose and buffalo!

Dragons are also a common theme for Burning Man mutant vehicles. (Photograph by our friend Don Green.)

Scary dragon mutant vehicle at Burning Man.

This is one of the more scary dragons that roam the Playa. Most of these fellows breathe fire as an added attraction.

Green dragon mutant vehicle at Burning Man.

This dragon was ,um, green and horny. His/her dark snout came from breathing fire. It is standing next to an array of solar panels and the Black Rock Desert serves as a backdrop.

This ferocious looking dragon had chains for reins and palm trees for wings. I think it is a creation of the NOLA camp at Burning Man.

Sparkle Pony Mutant Vehicle at Burning Man.

Numerous animals wander the Playa. This is a Sparkle Pony. (Sparkle Pony is the name for Burners who show up at Burning Man and expect to be waited upon.) Our friend Leslie Lake thinks that is a great idea and has adopted Sparkle as her Playa Name.

Rabbit mutant vehicle at Burning Man.

Some of the animals are just plain friendly looking, such as this rabbit.

Dog mutant vehicle at Burning Man.

And this buck toothed dog.

Cheshire Cat mutant vehicle at Burning Man.

The Cheshire Cat is, of course, noted for its huge grin.

Giant bull mutant Vehicle at Burning Man.

My guess is a giant cow. Her eyes flash out beams at night, giving this friendly beast a more scary persona.

Steampunk mechanical horse mutant vehicle at Burning Man.

This mechanical horse with its carriage represents the heavy steampunk presence at Burning Man.

Chicken Pox mutant vehicle at Burning Man.

I finish off my animals with this humorous Chicken Pox.

Sailing ship mutant vehicle at Burning Man.

Once upon a time, this section of the Black Rock Desert was a huge inland sea. So why shouldn’t there be sailing ships at Burning Man?

The yacht Christina, a mutant vehicle at Burning Man.

And yachts. This boat is named Christina and looks quite gorgeous at night.

Crab with shell mutant vehicle at Burning Man.

As might be expected in an ancient sea there are also numerous creatures of the ocean at Burning Man, such as this crab with its colorful shell.

Articulated fish mutant vehicle at Burning Man.

And an articulated fish.

Many of the fish swimming in the Black Rock Desert feature large teeth, such as this Disco-Fish.

Fish eating fish with provocative tongue mutant vehicle at Burning Man.

Big fish trying to swallow equally big fish. What puts this mutant vehicle into my weird category is the tongue, however. Note the stirrups so a Burner can hop on for a ride.

Sea creature mutant vehicle at Burning Man.

I am not sure what this creature is, but I think it belongs in the sea. I’ll go with seahorse.

Praying Mantis mutant vehicle at Burning man.

There are numerous insect mutant vehicles at Burning Man. My favorite is the praying mantis. So I will let it represent the bugs.

VW Bug art car/mutant vehicle at Burning Man.

Speaking of bugs, here is a VW Bug art car.

Walter the mutant vehicle at Burning Man.

And his bigger cousin (much bigger), Walter the VW Van. (Photo by Don Green.)

Mutant vehicle hot rod at Burning Man.

While I am on vehicles, I’ll include this dream of a hot rodder’s hot rod.

Pucker up mutant vehicle at Burning Man.

Often, it’s the faces on the mutant vehicles that capture my attention. Pucker up.

Joker mutant vehicle at Burning Man.

This joker has another memorable face.

I think ‘Kilroy was here’ of Kilroy fame may have been the inspiration for this face with its large tongue.

 

NEXT BLOG: I’ll finally get Sully landed on the Hudson River and off of his plane.

 

 

Steampunk, a Towering Octopus, and a Giant Rhino… The Mutant Vehicles of Burning Man

Burning Man's El Pulpo Mechanico.

The sometimes scary El Pulpo Mechanico in black and white.

Peggy and I were out wandering around Black Rock City when we came across the steampunk mutant vehicles that I am going to feature today: El Pulpo Mechanico and the Beamer Steamer. A flaming duck was also present. The folks that created these vehicles came from Northern California and Southern Oregon— our territory, and at least two of the vehicles had connections with the human-powered Kinetic Sculpture Race that runs between Ferndale, Eureka and Arcata over the Memorial Day Weekend.

El Pulpo Mechanico sprang from the creative mind of Duane Flatmo. His parts were scrounged from the Arcata Scrap and Salvage Yard in Northern California. Jerry Kunkel designed his electronic and flame system. His crawdad attachment was once part of one of the Kinetic Sculpture race vehicles.

El Pulpo always draws a crowd at Burning Man, especially when he is flaming. He can go through 200 gallons of propane in one night.

El Pulpo always draws a crowd at Burning Man, especially when he is flaming. He can go through 200 gallons of propane in one night.

El Pulpo at Black Rock City.

This shot of El Pulpo by our friend Don Green also shows his crawdad front.

Heres a shot of his crawdad front during the day. This creature was once part of a kinetic sculpture that participated in the Kinetic Sculpture Race in Eureka.

Here’s a shot of his crawdad front during the day. This creature was once part of a kinetic sculpture that participated in the Kinetic Sculpture Race in Eureka. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Looking up at El Pulpo provides a view of his barrel tentacles.

Looking up at El Pulpo provides a view of his barrel tentacles.

El Pulpo Mechanico fish at Burning Man.

This primitive fish is also a part of El Pulpo’s decorations.

As is this sea horse!

As is this sea-horse! (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

El Pulpo's head.

El Pulpo’s head.

El Pulpo Mechanico at Burning Man.

A final view.

Bob and Karen Thomson of Southern Oregon had been participating in the Kinetic Sculpture Race for several years when they decided they wanted a vehicle that they didn’t have to power with their own effort and sweat. They created the Beamer Steamer to go to Burning Man.

The Beamer Steamer at Burning Man.

The Beamer Steamer mutant vehicle by Bob and Karen Thomson.

I am not sure of the history of the flaming duck but it can light up the sky at night.

The flaming duck during the day at Burning Man.

The flaming duck during the day at Burning Man. Check out its head.

The flaming duck at Burning Man.

The flaming duck out on the playa at night waiting for the man to burn.

You have to travel south on Highway 101 from Eureka to come to the home of my fourth mutant vehicle today. The Rhino Redemption was created by Kevin Clark and the artistic group that works out of the Reared in Steel building in Petaluma. Kevin was also responsible for the creation of the Medusa Sculpture at Burning Man that I have featured in the past.

This wonderful rhino mutant vehicle has become one of my favorites at Burning Man. I was once charged by one of his counterparts in East Africa and have had a special appreciation for rhinos ever since.

This wonderful rhino mutant vehicle has become one of my favorites at Burning Man. I was once charged by one of his counterparts in East Africa and have had a special appreciation for rhinos ever since.

Rhino Redemption at Burning Man.

A side view of Rhino Redemption. He can accommodate up to 20 people.

Rhino Redemption at Burning Man.

Rhino charging? It’s kind of how I remember it. (grin)

Rhino Redemption in camp at Burning Man.

A final view… (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

NEXT BLOGS:

I’ve decided to take a semi-break for my birthday next week when I will be in Las Vegas. I’ll see you back here on March 6. Well, I may put up a blog or two if things are slow, but I wouldn’t bet on it. (grin)

–Curt