Phoenicopterus Rex and Several Other Fun but Weird Sculptures… Burning Man 2017: Part 9

Giant Flamingo wearing boa at Burning Man 2017

Burning Man does whimsical well, as illustrated by this giant flamingo with its large purple boa.

 

Surrounded by a white picket fence and standing on fake grass, the 40-foot-tall Phoenicopterus Rex brought to Burning Man by Josh Zubcoff from San Francisco could be seen from almost anywhere on the Playa. Phoenicopterus, BTW, is the scientific name for flamingo, and in this case, a heck of a big bird. Peggy and I have met many of its smaller cousins in the South, both the beautiful wild kind you find standing around on one leg in swamps, and the more domesticated plastic kind you find adorning patches of grass on many a home. Our daughter, Natasha, loved these birds and decorated her room with them briefly as a teenager. I don’t remember whether that was before or after her Goth stage when she painted her walls black. I gave the room wide berth then, realizing that I might be painted as well.

Photo of Flamingos by Curtis Mekemson.

A pair of the real birds in Florida.

Part of the popularity of theses amazing birds is their ability to perform contortionists acts. Number 48 was a master. How’s that for taking a nap?

A pair of small plastic flamingos came by to visit Phoenicopterus Rex, who was back-lit by the sun but still very pink. I thought the top hats were a nice addition.

Nighttime giant flamingo at Burning Man 2017

Phoenicopterus Rex lit up at night.

The Flamingo was just one of several appropriately weird sculptures with a sense of humor found at Burning Man in 2017. I’ve included several for your entertainment, today.

Tyrannosaurus Rex at Burning Man 2017

It seems appropriate that we should go from a giant flamingo to a tiny dinosaur. This not too scary Tyrannosaurus Rex, was part of the Free Range Animal Automata Menagerie created by Edward Crell from Sonoma, California.

Dusty hippo at Burning Man 2017

The menagerie also included a blue hippo, which reminded me of a mailbox…

Fish catching cat at Burning Man 2017

And a cat that was busy fishing. The automata part in the menagerie’s title came from the fact that each of the sculptures had a rope attached that you could pull to make the animals do things. In this case, kitty’s paw went down to catch the fish.

Keyed up shark at Burning Man 2017

Here’s a fish that kitty best leave alone. Sharks are bad enough when they are calm. This guy was keyed up.

Eye of Keyed Up Shark at Burning Man 2017

Wes Waltenspeil of Reno, Nevada created the shark. Here’s a close up of its eye.

Gummy Bear pyramid at Burning Man 2017

You might wonder why this colorful pyramid created by Dicapria ( a one-name person) out of Long Beach California made my list of weird art…

Panels from Gummy Bear pyramid at Burning Man 2017

It was certainly colorful…

Gummy Bear pyramid close up at Burning Man 2017

But take a closer look. The 12-foot tall pyramid was made up of a hundred thousand Gummy Bears. I might say ‘chew on that thought’ except the Gummy Bears were made out of acrylic and metal.

Giant crane named Coco at Burning Man 2017

In returning to the Big Bird theme, this 150 foot wide 45 foot tall giant crane named Coco was built by the Crimson Collective out of Los Angeles and done in origami style. In addition to its visual impact, it provided welcome shade on the Playa.

Flying unicorn at Burning Man 2017

I’d call this fellow Pegasus except for its fairy-wand, unicorn-type horn. It was an impressive beast. I don’t know who the artist is.

Nighttime flying horse at Burning Man 2017

Here’s the Pegasus Unicorn at night. Check out the totally out of control curly-haired tail.

Chicken and egg sculpture at Burning Man 2017

‘It’s a chicken and egg situation’ according to Andrea Greenlees of Surbiton, UK, who created this sculpture. I’m not sure it answered the age old question of which came first. Burners were invited to climb up the ladder and enter the old girl through her tail-end and frolic among the eggs, however. Maybe the experience provided them with inspiration to answer the question.

Blow up alien at Burning Man 2017

It wouldn’t be Burning Man without a few aliens wandering around, even blow-up aliens.

Back of blow up alien at Burning Man 2017

The back of the alien at night.

Roswell alien at Burning Man 2017

And finally, proof positive of the dead aliens that were found after the UFO crash in Roswell! It’s likely that this fellow was on loan from Area 51.

 

NEXT BLOG: I intend to look at some of the art pieces that were built with the 2017 theme, Radical Ritual, in mind. Peggy and I are traveling again, this time to Connecticut to visit with our son and his family, however, so blog work will depend on available time.

I’ve Been Through the Desert on a Horse with No Name… Burning Man 2017: Part 2

A bike is critical to traveling around the Playa and through Black Rock City. Distances are substantial, as this photo demonstrates. I took this photo from the Man. Looking the other direction would provide a similar scene.

 

When I made my second trip to Burning Man in 2005, my friend Ken Lake brought along stick horses— the type that are popular with five-year-olds— to put on our bikes. They served as decorations and a way of quickly telling our bikes apart from the tens of thousands of others that reside in Black Rock City. If you pinched their ears, they went clippity clop, clippity clop, neigh, snort. Naturally, we had to name them.  Horse with No Name popped into my mind. I would be riding through the desert on my horse-bike, and I’ve always liked the song written by Dewey Bunnell. There’s more. Bunnell was inspired to create the haunting music by memories of his childhood travels through Arizona and New Mexico, a Salvador Dali painting of the desert, and a strange horse depicted by M.C. Escher. The fact that I am a fan of the Southwest, surreal art, and Escher was frosting on the cake.

Ken Lake, on the left, showed up with stick horses in 2005. Here, he and Don Green try out our new horses before attaching them to our bikes.

Horse with No Name is something of a contrarian and likes to see what is being him.

The seven squares miles covered by the event requires a bicycle, so I’ve been riding Horse with No Name on my trips to Burning Man ever since. I suspect I’ve put on several hundred miles during my 11 trips into the desert. The bikes have changed, and the stick horses have changed, but the name has remained.

As I’ve noted before, my primary reason for going is to see the art. It’s located everywhere. Even with a bike, it’s difficult to see it all— and I always miss pieces. This year, I had to skip the first four days because of forest fires threatening our home. I only had three days to cover what I normally do in seven. I was on the bike a lot. My tail was complaining loudly by Sunday. (For those of you who have been following the saga of the burning forest, we are out of the woods, so to speak. Level 1, 2, and 3 evacuation notices have been dropped.)

The art at Burning Man ranged from this 70 foot tall Flower Tree Temple…

To this very realistic looking tree that provided shade from the desert sun during the day and was beautifully lit up by night.

There are other things to do at Burning Man besides look at art, of course. For example, you can party 24/7 for a week if that’s your thing. Bars ‘gifting’ free booze are located on almost every corner. You can also dance the night away, or day. I saw people dancing country along the 6th street route I followed into Center Camp, and I could have gone elsewhere to learn to Tango, had I been so inclined. The most common music, however, is the type that goes thump, thump, thump in the night, industrial strength stuff. World renown DJs come to Burning Man to play it for free. The music will keep you awake if you allow it. I have a very loud, battery operated fan that serves as a wonderful noise maker in addition to keeping me cool, however. Let it thump away. (The secret of sleeping through the desert heat, BTW, is to wear a wet T-shirt and let evaporation do its thing. It also works for daytime naps. The fan speeds up the evaporation and makes it cooler.)

I thought that this mutant vehicle was an excellent example of what a Burner might look like after partying straight for seven days!

Always one of my favorite mutant vehicles, this large dragon was back again in 2017. Large speakers and industrial strength music guaranteed that people would be dancing around it whenever it stopped. Dancing is a 24/7 activity.

For those who wanted a slightly more challenging form of exercise, there was a marathon. Here a runner gets a high-five as he runs under the Man.

For the first time ever this year, the Man was enclosed in a structure.

Dozens of classes are offered for those who want to learn something new. They range from the ecology of the Black Rock Desert to sensuous massage: BYOM. (Bring your own mate.) You can also take a class in bondage. I’m normally too busy to be tied up for an hour, however. (grin) Many classes come with an Eastern/New Age twist such as meditation and Yoga: BYOM applies here as well. (Bring your own mat.)

Camp Mystic offers ongoing classes in Eastern thought.

There is entertainment galore. Twirling fire is big at Burning Man. As is creating magic with hula hoops. If you want to see something truly sensuous, watch a talented hula hooper. The Center Camp Café always has something going on, both planned and impromptu. One moment you might be listening to a lecture on physics and the next surrounded by several hundred large rabbits, or at least people wearing rabbit ears. But you can be anywhere in Black Rock City or out in the Playa and find entertainment.

The Center Camp Cafe is always a center of activity at Burning Man. This year it was set off by a rainbow arch.

A story teller and a violinist were performing under the green tree shown above.The story teller was reciting a love story that could have come right out of Scheherazade. She would tell a part of the story in what I thought was Arabic or Persian and then translate it into English, accompanied by the violin.

People watching is always big. Some folks develop elaborate costumes and almost everyone makes some effort to look different, even if it’s only putting on a tie-dye T-shirt. Scantily clad is a Burning Man trademark. While total nudity is rare, topless is not uncommon, for women as well as men.  I think of it as eye-candy. Staring is rude but appreciative glances are okay. You’d have to wear blinders not to notice and be a robot to not enjoy the views.

A costumed trio lines up for a photo at the Temple of Flowers.

A major reason people give for going to Burning Man is to share the experience with friends. Over the years I’ve always been accompanied by folks who are close to me, people who have joined me on backpacking and bicycling adventures as well as in fighting for environmental and health related causes. Some of them have been friends for decades. This year was an exception. Only one, Don Green, could make the event, and he bailed on Wednesday, the day I was driving in from Oregon. I was left alone. Not that I am overly worried about being alone. Remember I took off backpacking on two wilderness trips this summer by myself. Still, it felt a bit strange. Fortunately, a group from Nevada City, California camped next to my van and befriended me.

My Nevada City friends: Blaine, Ashley, Baley and Miriam.

“Curt, you have to join us for dinner,” Baley insisted. “We have way more food than we can possibly eat.” Blaine had already stuffed me with watermelon in the morning. Miriam had shown up with fresh pineapple and cookies in the afternoon and stayed to chat for an hour. Both her parents were Italian but she had been raised in Tahiti and Fiji. Now she was living in Brazil. She’d come to the US to trim marijuana buds for Blaine, who is a pot grower— a now legitimate profession in Washington, Oregon, California and Nevada. (Half of the traditional farmers along our road in the Applegate Valley have added marijuana as a crop, including the guy who had a large Trump sign on his property.)

They were cooking up a batch of ribs, tri-tip and sausages. Given that I had a hotdog waiting for me in the van, I quickly joined them! “You need to eat salad, too,” Ashley admonished me. She wanted to assure Peggy that I was eating my veggies in her absence. I gave each one a copy of my book on my Peace Corps experience in Africa as a thank you.

A final photo: The women line up with me next to my van.

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Burning Man or Burning House… When Forest Fire Threatens

 

Heavy smoke from local forest fires fills southern Oregon’s Upper Applegate Valley where we live.

 

I left our home on the way to Burning Man with the heavy smoke of the surrounding forest fires filling the air in Applegate Valley like an evil fog. Once again we had an inversion; there was nowhere for the smoke to go so it was hanging around and hassling our lungs.

The forest service folks said there wasn’t much to worry about. We might have bad smoke, but the fires were good. They were the type that make their way along the ground, clean out the dead wood, and leave the forest feeling healthy. Naturally, there was an if attached. The wind could change; the heat could skyrocket; the fire could cease its peaceful ramble through the woods and become a raging inferno. Conditions were extreme.

Trusting a fire to behave is something like trusting a tropical depression in the Gulf to behave. Sometimes the depression simply goes away; but occasionally, it morphs into a horrendous hurricane with devastating floods. Hello Harvey. Our thoughts are with our friends and all the other people in southeast Texas who are suffering from the torrential downpour.

The forest service people in our area also told us that they didn’t have enough personnel to seriously tackle the fires creeping through our woods, even if they wanted to. The Chetco Fire over near the coast, some 50 miles away, had been declared the worst fire in the nation, at least for now. Even the local firefighters had headed for the coast. The town of Brookings was being threatened, and firefighters go where the threats are the greatest.

I was happy to escape. I drove down through the Rogue Valley. Smoky. I drove up and across the Cascade Mountains. Smoky. I drove down into the Klamath Basin, past Klamath Lake, past Klamath Falls. Smoky. Finally, down around Tule Lake across the border in northern California, down where Japanese-American citizens were once corralled behind barbed wire fences like cattle, the smoke begin to clear. I breathed a sigh of relief. I breathed fresh air.

A sign outside of Tule Lake told me there were no services for the next 70 miles. Not many of California’s 39 million people live in the remote northeastern part of the state. I checked my gas gauge. Not a problem; I made it to Alturas with a quarter tank left. Gas prices had shot up, however— partly because of the towns remote location, partly to make money off of the increased traffic to Burning Man, and partly because of Harvey’s romp through the Gulf and along the Gulf Coast. I am sure that you have noticed that gas prices shoot up within hours when the oil industry has a problem. It takes months for them to creep back down.  Or is this just my imagination?

I bought gas. I also bought apples, oranges and salad mix at the Holiday Market. (California won’t let you bring fresh fruit and vegetables into the state.) My destination for the day was Cedarville, a mere 26 miles away up and over the Warner Mountains from Alturas. I like the small town. It perches on the very edge of California. Off to the east are the vast open spaces of the Nevada’s Black Rock Desert where lonely ranches, windmills, sagebrush, jack rabbits and rattlesnakes rule.  Cedarville likes Burning Man. The majority of the Northwest’s large population of Burners pass through the town. A couple of years ago, a local gas station owner told me he pumps as much gas during the week of Burning Man as he does the whole rest of the year.

My normal routine is to spend the night in the town and then drive the 90 plus miles to Burning Man early the next morning. I checked out the fairgrounds where I was going to camp and then headed for the Country Hearth Restaurant. It’s a small-town kind of eatery that moves at its own slow pace but serves excellent food. I had my traditional last meal before heading into the desert and then went out to the van for a final call to Peggy. Phone service is non-existent to highly unlikely in Black Rock City. A large brindle dog offered me a wag or two, sat on the sidewalk, and watched me make the call.

Peggy greeted me with her usual chirpy welcome and then told me that the sheriff had just been by our house. “We are under a Level 1 fire alert!” Our endless days of smoke were threatening to turn into something much more serious. Level 1 is a warning. Be aware, the fire is threatening to come your way. Level 2 is you should be packed up. Leaving is highly recommended. Level 3 is get out now. You may be too late.

“I’m coming home,” was my immediate response.

“No, Curt,” Peggy replied. “I have everything under control. You need to head on into Burning Man.” She knows how much I look forward to the event. And I had no doubt that Peggy had things under control. She’s cool under pressure and highly organized. Plus, we have great neighbors. But that wasn’t the issue. Having to abandon our home and possibly lose it to fire wasn’t something she should face alone. She was insistent, however.

“Let me think about it,” I concluded. I went back to the fairgrounds and broke out a beer. It didn’t take much thinking. I was not going to leave Peggy home by herself. I called her back.

“No, no, no, Curt,” she made one final plea. But I reaffirmed I wasn’t going to leave her alone. I also said I wanted to say goodbye to our home if it was in danger of burning down. And finally, I told her I would head back to Burning Man if the situation improved. I think it was the latter that convinced her.

………

It’s a strange feeling to walk through your home and figure out what to take and what to leave behind when a forest fire threatens. In ways, it’s a walk down memory lane. There’s so much history. Some things are easy: medical and financial records. Others are more complicated. I love our books, for example, but there is no way we are going to pack up a couple of thousand. Maybe I’ll pull a dozen. A few family albums from our childhood, some art work with meaning, original materials from Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement, my genealogical files, Peggy’s quilts, some clothes— whatever we take has to fit in our pickup.The digital age helps. Much is on-line.

Peggy and I spent time outside yesterday, prepping the house. Most was already done. We live in an area prone to forest fires, so we have ‘defensible space.’ Plants, except for lavender, which is fire resistant, are away from our walls. Lower limbs have been cut away from trees. I’ve weed whacked most of the weeds near our house, but now wish I had done more. Too late. Plus, the fire people have a ban on all gas-powered tools. I did some hoe work and Peggy raked, The heat and the smoke made things much worse. Three hours was our max. We drank lots of water. A cold shower afterwards felt good.

We’ve decided on an action plan. There is really nothing else we can do here. Hanging out and manning a garden hose during a Level 3 situation is not an option for us. We will pack the truck today. There is a community meeting hosted by the forest service that we will attend tonight. Tomorrow Peggy will head for Sacramento to escape the smoke and I will resume my trip to Burning Man. We are pretty sure our property is safe. If not…

Peggy smiles. “Maybe it’s time to buy another small RV and hit the open road again.”

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This Place Called Black Rock City… Burning Man

Imagine, if you will, having enough port-a-potties to accommodate 70,000 people. It’s one of many issues Burning Man has to deal with in planning Black Rock City.

 

I always like to include a post on Black Rock City when I am blogging about Burning Man to give readers a view of how everything fits together. Obviously, you can’t throw up a city for 70,000 people in the desert without some serious planning. Think of it this way: For the one week of its existence, Black Rock City is the third largest city in Nevada— only Las Vegas and Reno are larger.

It all starts with locating where the Man will be placed out in the Black Rock Desert a few miles east of the small, northern Nevada town of Gerlach. A ceremonial spike is driven into the ground to mark the placement.  Everything else including the Temple, Center Camp, the surrounding fence and Black Rock City evolve from there. Official Burning Man structures and major camps are built before the event. Sort of. It is not unusual to arrive on Sunday with work still being done on the Man, the Temple, Center Camp, etc.

Black Rock City is laid out in a semi-circle as shown on the 2016 map below. The circular roads are given names based on the annual theme and are in alphabetical order. For example, the 2016 theme was Da Vinci’s Workshop. The road names were Arno, Botticelli, Cosimo, Donatello, Effigiare (Italian: to portray), Florin, Guild, High Renaissance, Italic, Justice, Knowledge, and Lorenzo. The main road that separates Black Rock City from the Playa is always the Esplanade. Roads that cut across the circular roads are numbered clockwise and lead out to the Man.

The large circle on the bottom is Center Camp, the middle circle the Man, and the upper circle the Temple. Both the Man and the Temple are located on the Playa, which continues out to the fence. Shaded areas are for assigned, organized camps; non-shaded areas for everyone else. Space in the non-shaded areas is on a first come, first serve basis and you can have as much as you need for your camp, assuming you come in early— there seems like a lot of space in the beginning. By the end of the week, everything is packed! The total area encompassed within the fence including Black Rock City and the Playa is approximately seven square miles.

The official Burning Man map of Black Rock City for 2016.

The following photos provide a glimpse into what it is like to live in Black Rock City.

If you come in early on Sunday, you feel like you have a lot of space. We always mark out our site with rope and reflectors.

Things fill up rapidly as the week progresses. Quivera, our van, marks one end of our camp. Our goal is to be somewhere between 5:00 and 6:00 on H or I.

By Friday, there is no room left. If you haven’t clearly marked your area, you will have guests!

If things feel too crowded, you can always bike out onto the Playa where the Man, the Temple and many of the major art pieces are located.

If things are still too crowded, you can head out farther…

And farther…

And farther. By now you are out in what is known as the Deep Playa.

This is where you come to the fence that limits further exploration of the desert. Actually, during a dust storm when visibility is close to zero, it is good to have the fence available to keep you from wandering off. There is a vast amount of space to get lost in.

Burning Man is serious about Burners staying inside the fence. Part of this is for safety and part of it is to keep people from sneaking in for free. When I crossed the fence for a photo-op, a BM truck came speeding over to where I was.

A substantial infrastructure is required to operate the event. These lifts are located in the Public Works Department lot.

Safety is always a concern. Burning Man has its own safety officers know as the Black Rock Rangers. Of course there are also numerous local, state, and federal law officers present. There is also an extensive emergency medical operation.

Lamps are lit at night to help Burners find their way. The lamp lighters are volunteers who have their own camp.

Providing ice for Burners to keep their food (and beer) cold is also a major operation run by volunteers. A recruitment poster urges Burners to sign up. Ice is one of the very few things you can purchase in Black Rock City.

The tongue in cheek sign at the top of the post refers to the numerous banks of port-a-potties found throughout Black Rock City and out on the Playa. An army of trucks is constantly servicing the outhouses. (Photo by Don Green.)

I found this in one of the toilets.  I imagine that this sign had some city folks checking. (grin)

Sand spiders are more dangerous.

Heat, wind, and dust storms are a part of life at Burning Man. It can also rain.

This photo was taken a few minutes after the above photo. The storm has arrived!

While it is important to be prepared for the heat and dust storms, there is also great beauty and good weather at Burning Man.

Looking out from our camp at the sunset.

And a rainbow.

If things get too rough out in the desert, you can always stop and have a beer.

Next Blog:  Some really cute seals and the beautiful Pt. Lobos nature reserve near Carmel.

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.