Fishbowler

I make art in strange places and blog about it.

Tag Archives: Burning Man

Crossing The Playa To Watch Rocks Fall From Space

Do You Think I’m Sexy?
Rod Stewart and the playa go hand in hand for me, particularly “Do You Think I’m Sexy?” When I was married we’d camp on the playa with other couples and friends and we’d party on this white tabletop desert for the weekend. This is not your average kind of camping but burners get it. Glamour camping is also called ‘glamping’ and this pastime involves fur and glitter and disco sounds pumped thru large speakers. It’s all about the fabulous. It’s all about a landscape of minimal distraction. The funky white bass carries across the ground in an interesting way. There’s a denseness, a soaking in and you start to think of the silt. How thick is it below these sexy people roller skating to Rod Stewart?

Cattle Clock
From Iveson Ranch driving down to Gerlach or the playa, it’s a short rural drive. It’s 12 miles to the edge of the playa, 27 to Gerlach. Half an hour is very short driving time in open country like this. It’s 2 hours to Reno. Be mindful of livestock and wild horses standing on the road, much more dangerous than hitchhikers.

We don’t have to leave the ranch much other than the grocery getters every couple weeks. JB the bossman calls those rocket runs into Reno & back. I think I was here for an entire month before I ever exited the gates. Often I feel like a head of cattle grazing on the ranch, spanning time. I did get in to Reno the other day for some shopping. I’ve been here since the beginning of July, a month and a half now. I was also here for the month of May. I feel like there’s no where better for me to be. My mind grazes here.

You take Sundays off here only after you’ve gotten stuff done. Today’s Sunday, this mural is feeling fairly done. Art is a different kind of thing, a different kind of time. I sit around alot, getting away from it and it’s done when I feel like it. I’m still going to work on it this afternoon, after my shower but before it starts getting cooler and into sunset, maybe crank up the generator and work after dark too. These murals are two sided. They’re steel cabins. This afternoon I’ll be painting on the East side, the shaded side. I’m painting horses.

Crossing The Playa To Watch Rocks Fall From Space
Black Rock Desert is the flattest expanse on Earth. It’s a dry lake bed at the core of what used to be an ancient inland sea that covered the entire top half of Nevada–a state that takes over 10 hours to drive from top to bottom. It’s a good desert to admire space from.

The plan was to take an art car 12 miles to the playa from the ranch to experience the Perseid meteor shower. Five or six art cars here are being worked on currently as we ramp up to Burning Man week. This one was red and called The Imperial, a Chinese Junk fashioned art car which seats 30 on two levels. It would be slow driving.

Neither of these things happened. Neither art car excursion nor meteor viewing came to fruition. The meteor shower’s best viewing wasn’t to start until after 3am, it was early, so we took fire dancers. This was a very good idea to bring entertainment. They brought themselves really, in a red Camaro from Oregon and we were a hit.

In a borrowed diesel, with 3 adults and a child, I drove us to the playa in the dark of night, which was relatively light. From the ranch 4 or 5 vehicles went out. I love bringing people to the Black Rock Desert for the first time. I remember my first time. It’s a landscape you drive more like a boat since, after all, it is a lake. We had a half moon to light our way.

So this party was a group of maybe 100 people and the Burning Man royalty were there in attendance and being pampered with margaritas. These were some founders of the event. You know it’s 30 years old, Burning Man? These are some people who are famous the world over for what they created. Burning Man has permeated creative cultures everywhere on the globe and enjoys international fame.

Burners will tell you it’s more than a party. It’s a movement. 60,000 fur adorned people can’t be wrong–and that’s just this year’s crowd. This is as significant as the hippy movement. When I told one of the fire dancers that Burning Man royalty was his audience for the night, he got excited, eyes lit up and he asked “Are they aware that we don’t have tickets yet?”

Life On The Ranch (with more photos)

Chickens prefer heavy beats. Day three or so, an art car, The Serpent Queen, was getting carpentry updates while I worked on the paint job of these storage units near the shop on the grounds.

The chicken coop sat not far and people working on their feet were all around and we had music. From where I was, away from the boom box, saws and routers I heard the rooster chiming in with his minimal harmonic chords. The first time the sound was so good, such great timing that it seemed as if it was part of the mix. The next track also featured the rooster’s r-r-rr-rucrrrruhku-u-uuuu and that’s when I was certain that the sound was coming from the chicken coop 100 feet from me. The cock didn’t care for classic rock. I decided I gotta talk to a DJ about this barnyard phenomenon.

It seems a spaceship contraption found a good landing pad behind our place. “That’s the Funk Yeah. It only plays funk out on the playa” I was told. The Funk Yeah was in disrepair and it needed a space mechanic. Ventilation tubes of steel line this thing in a sort of X wing configuration and it has a satellite dish for shade above the driver’s seat. I don’t know. It looks like a Star Wars kinda’ thing, you know,when they were on the desert planet with Jabba–a hover vehicle look like that. Underneath it was a Chevy van with the top chopped and with silver Tattooine embellishments. I wasn’t aware it was a space funk mobile.

Burners have the right idea. The collective knowledge between these ratty dudes is astounding. Over bacon and eggs this morning Douglas, Clown and Ocean were talking about a doomahincky used for movement detection–mercury switches versus some other thing. I don’t know but these guys get together and use their brains to make stuff and this kind of collaboration is what I’m most impressed by. They’ve got the right idea. When they put their minds to it they can build a city. Plus there’s the whole topless women thing. And lasers.

Life at the Ranch Part 1 (with photos)

National Weather Service is broadcast everywhere. “60 mile an hour winds and it’s about 16 miles north of Gerlach.” We deduced that JB’s warning us about this now meant the wind would be picking up in about 10 minutes here at the ranch and we’d better all get our stuff tied down for the afternoon. It had been perfectly calm and sunny until that moment. He was hoping it was wrong but like a good clock, the information was accurate. Out here the weather is not just a subject for small talk.

The Black Rock Desert hosts the world famous Burning Man, in which 50,000 people come to camp and party. This alkali lake bed is the biggest expanse of flatness on Earth. Iveson Ranch is about 7 miles from the edge of it in a lush canyon. Burners always seem to be here.

I’m here because storage units  are being converted into living spaces. What I’m painting on these storage boxes with this enamel paint is acid woodgrain®. It’s alot of paint and the colors are from cream sickle to candy. I’m learning to line them sharply and draw shapes out more. Sharp edges but first I’ll build up some texture layers.

Burners are an interesting breed. They’re modern day hippies, often going by names like Pixie or Ocean, but the new twist is that they wear utility pouches, headlamps and goggles. They’re usually work oriented people occupied by creative projects that revolve around partying. The good times endeavor does not diminish the fact that the work is serious and complex requiring organization and money. There are also desert rats here, some guys that mine gold but know construction.There’s a big white bus that looks like a ship called the Serpent Princess parked just near my painted boxes and they’ve been playing the best music while constructing a dance floor above the roof of it. This is the funnest summer camp ever!

I’ve been 4 times to the burn, which makes me a burner I guess. But I’d never call myself that. When asked if I’m a burner I usually say no. I feel like a tourist next to these guys but I’ve helped build and maintain more than one camp. A sign camp once. Another time I camp I helped build was called Simple Camp, named right on the spot, though it wasn’t so simple. sprawling areas of shade. I wore a plaid skirt and when people said “nice kilt” I would reply “God dammit It’s not a kilt, it’s a skirt!”

The wind came so I put lids on my paints and secured brushes and rags. We broke down my table and latched the doors of the barn. I had to weather the storm out so right now I’m relaxing in our accommodations.

The walls are orange in here which is mild mannered in relation to the outside of this unit. I painted the outside in hot colors. This was number 3 or so. It’s nice to be able to stay in one of these. We’ve got 3 beds, 3 windows and a door and this is quite a comfortable place to stay. It’s a luxurious way to camp really. We’re surrounded by steel. This is glamping.

The view stretches past the pastures for 3 ridges to the West, all continually varied in color. JB fixes these storage units up with nice livable interiors for burners or ranch hands to stay in. We don’t need air conditioning but it’s hooked up in here. I can’t imagine what oceans this thing has crossed in a past life, now it lives here in this desert. You hear of these things falling off ships like giant dominoes. They’re not. They’re substantial.

My dad is staying here this week with me. He came to visit in town so we both came up here for this job. He always fixes stuff and builds and makes improvements to his surroundings like Bob Villa. This works out extremely well here. The ranch needs people like him. He’s been helping alot. He’s not the only carpenter here, but he is the best carpenter here. My dad can beat up your dad!

There are two deer 20 yards from me right now thru my window by the fruit trees. This canyon is to be a natural preserve so there’s a no shooting policy here. It’s a haven for wildlife and this is one reason it’s a special place. A mountain lion was spotted here last week. It was drinking from the little pond in front. It was a little mountain lion (the size of a St. Bernard) and they tell me that means that momma’s close by.

The Rise of the Creative Class: NadaDada Motel Does it Again

NadaDada came from a similar place that Burning Man did so I don’t mind giving them credit for inspiring our movement. Burners.me has a huge following and I’m very thankful to them for posting this interview. World wide publicity is always welcome. I’m proud of our conversation.

Burners.Me: Me, Burners and The Man

by Whatsblem the Pro

There are a lot of ways to burn, and when you start talking about what makes someone a burner or not a burner, chances are good that you’re about to say something foolish. One thing that does tend to hold true, though, is that part of being a burner is being comfortable with ad-hocracy, and being motivated to make things.

As our culture penetrates the mainstream, outbursts of grassroots art that bring our values from the Man to Main Street are inevitable.

This weekend in Reno, the loose and unled affiliation of artists known as NadaDada Motel got together for their seventh year, to unleash a weird and wonderful fireball of creativity on midtown. They usually do their thing in June, but NadaDada is growing! This year the group mustered a second February event, dubbed “Nada Gras.”

The premise is simple: “Get a room, make a…

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