You got your money in my art! You got your art in my money!

This is one of my favorite stories about a piece of art.

michelangelo last judgment
Michelangelo’s Last Judgement

After Michelangelo was commissioned to paint “The Last Judgment” on the wall of the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican’s Master of Ceremonies, Biagio da Cesena, examined the painting in progress and said it was shameful for a sacred work to depict nude bodies, and that it was a painting more fit for a public bath than the Holy See.

In revenge, Michelangelo gave one of the devils in hell da Cesena’s face, and added donkey ears.  (Lower right hand corner:  he’s also got a snake wrapped around him.  Close-up below the jump.)

Da Cesena complained to the Pope, but His Holiness replied that there was nothing he could do, because this was a devil and his authority as Pontiff did not cover hell.

The painting remains on the wall of the Sistine Chapel to this day, viewed by millions of tourists each year, and while Da Cesena was a rich and powerful man at the time, the only reason we even remember his name today is because Michelangelo snubbed him.

Aside from being hilarious in its own right, this story sits right at the intersection between art, sacred culture, and commerce. Michelangelo was a hired gun, paid a lot of money to make sacred art by people there is every reason to think he didn’t particularly like or respect, and the result has become a fixture of western culture. (more…)

Becoming Playable

by Cosmic Trooper

I wasn’t a Burner my first day at Burning Man or my second.

I wasn’t a Burner until my third day.

Wasn’t a Burner until I decided that I wanted to be the performer dancing for the crowd.

Wasn’t a Burner until I went to the Temple and cried as I let go of my self-hate, my insecurities, my anxieties.

Wasn’t a Burner until after writing on the Temple wall and growing I decided to gift the marker that had been gifted to me to a tattooed, bad-ass looking-mother-fucker, sitting outside the Temple.

Wasn’t a Burner until when I handed him the marker he looked up at me and started crying. And I sat and I heard his story, his pain and struggle. And I took a little of that struggle off his back with an open ear and a firm hug.

Wasn’t a Burner until I realized that with the tiniest act, I could change the world.

I’m a Burner now. I know where True Home is but I try my best to make everywhere I am Home, one open ear and firm hug at a time.

Message To Participants

The days are getting warmer, tickets are showing up in the mail and the trolls are spreading mistruths online.  Yes, it is that time of year again:Pre-Burn Season!

This is also the time of year that first timers start to ask for advice from their veteran Burner friends.  I first send them to the fantastic survival guide, then to my tips & tricks videos (starting with the ones for Virgins).  Then I pat their head, tell them it is all going to be okay, and share some version of the message below.  In addition to bringing the right gear, it is important to bring the right attitude.

*This video was requested from participants of this year’s Midburn. It is worded in a way that applies to people heading to any event where Radical Self Expression and Gifting is embraced.

**If, after watching, you don’t feel drawn to attend this year, please sell your ticket back through official channels. There are many eager and well deserving people waiting for your ticket in the STEP program.

Ladies and Gents, Step Right Up to the Midway!

credit:  Vladimir Herrera
credit: Vladimir Herrera

This year, the Man will be surrounded by an interactive Carnival Midway, featuring booths created and staffed by 32 Regional groups and artists from the US as well as Taiwan, China, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Canada, Argentina, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Japan and Russia. There will also be two performance stages and other carnivalesque art installations, completing this hyper-immersive center of burner-style Carny madness.

What to expect? Games of chance, cabinets of wonder, costumed characters, sleight of hand, lion tamers, showgirls, showboys, jesters, bearded ladies, bizarre creatures, mad professors, mysticism and of course, clowns! Enter at your own risk!! And be prepared for soul-baring, self-reflection, silliness and schtick.

Since 2011, we have engaged our Regionals at the center of the event. Over a three year period, in our Circle of Regional Effigies (CORE) Project, fifty Regional groups produced over seventy installations, placed around the Man. Each of the Regional groups involved worked intensely to create sculptures representing their regions, which were enjoyed by our greater community and burned. Last year we increased the Regional presence by engaging willing groups in the creation of the Souk, an interactive marketplace surrounding the Man, who stood on the ground, surrounded by an energetic round-the-clock pageant of interactivity and social engagement. The greater Burner community was able to engage directly with our Regional groups, as well as witness their creations.

This year we invite you to immerse yourselves in another collaborative environment, full of possibilities for creative self-expression and engagement with our Regionals. Identify your inner Carny, create your character and be part of this rich global stew.

Getting Your Bearings in Wine Country

"Getting Your Bearings" by David Boyer, 2014. (Photo courtesy of the author.)
“Getting Your Bearings” by David Boyer, 2014. (Photo courtesy of the author.)

Reno artist David Boyer’s 2014 Burning Man kinetic wind sculpture Getting Your Bearings is now on display in Napa, California as part of the Napa ARTwalk public art program. This work is one of fourteen that will be on loan to the City of Napa for a period of two years. The work is #13 on the ARTwalk tour and is located next to the Napa River Inn just off the Riverfront walkway. For more information visit Napa ARTwalk.

David first shared work in Black Rock City in 2007 — a kinetic tree sculpture in the “Mangrove” surrounding the Man as part of the Green Man art theme. Burning Man Art’s Civic Arts program then funded a recreation of the Mangrove in Reno, Nevada. Aside from his many public art projects, he’s brought work out to the playa every year since.

Enjoy the sights and sounds of his creative process, as well as a hypnotic and beautiful portrait of Getting Your Bearings in this video clip:

Thank you, David, for your tireless contributions to BRC and to public art!

Everyhere Logistics: They Bring the Art to You

nightmarketBurners know how much art one can pack into a box truck, but Everyhere Logistics is about to raise the bar. This team, spread out all across the United States, is rolling out multiple convoys of box trucks full of pop-up art exhibitions to traverse the country, descending upon a different U.S. city each Saturday in August. In each city, the trucks will join up with a local Lost Horizon Night Market, an interactive art carnival experience that will welcome in the locals. The point is to demonstrate how portable and scalable even big, inspiring art experiences can be.

“There is a myth that viable art is only found on the coasts and in a select few big cities,” the trailer video says. “Help Everyhere Logistics shatter that myth.”

These people want to build a national network of such Night Markets, to make them a part of the fabric of city life, and nailing this crazy trucking part would enable the free flow of art and artists across this network. You can help them make that happen on Kickstarter for just a few more days.

Ships in the Night

by Stiff Breeze

Two Burners embrace in the middle of a dust storm at dusk. (Photo by Lucas Swick)

Two Burners embrace in the middle of a dust storm at dusk. (Photo by Lucas Swick)

The announcement was made during the Critical Tits event, “White out in approximately ten minutes,” just enough time to get back to camp, maybe. I immediately began my return on my aging bike, a bare-bones, second-hand, yellow vehicle, fifteen speed new, now one. As miserable as the dust storms can be, a greater concern was visibility and the importance of being in our 1958 Jewel trailer as soon as possible. (more…)

Flower Piano in San Francisco

The Sunset Piano project began with a spontaneous, D.I.Y. initiative of putting a piano (or two, or three, or twelve, as it ended up being) along the coast of California, just to see who would show up and play them. This renegade installation brought people together in appreciation of music and nature.

Last year, Burning Man Arts’ Civic Arts program collaborated with the San Francisco Office of Workforce and Development (OWED) and artist Mauro ffortissimo to bring his roving Sunset Piano project to the streets of downtown San Francisco. And now this successful project has been extended for another year!

Poster image by Tamir Karta.
Poster image by Tamir Karta.

Please join us for the first event in the project’s latest series of events, Sunset Piano Opus IV. This debut event for Opus IV will take place at San Francisco’s Botanical Gardens. How beautiful! Come play some pianos or just enjoy some live music in one of San Francisco’s loveliest settings.

We here at Burning Man Arts believe that art and music belongs to everyone, regardless of access to traditional venues, and that equal access to art breaks down our sense of separation, of otherness, difference, estrangement, and disconnection. A simple act of putting art in a public space is actually a revolutionary act that challenges the cultural artifices of difference.

Flower Piano

San Francisco Botanical Garden
Ninth Ave @ Lincoln Way
San Francisco, California 94122

Members: FREE
San Francisco Residents: FREE with proof of residency
The Garden is free to all daily 7:30-9am and all day on second Tuesdays of the month
$7 general,
$5 youth 12-17 & seniors
$2 children 5-11; children 4 and under FREE
families of 2 adults and one or more child pay just $15

Visit the event’s Facebook page or San Francisco Botanical Garden’s website for more information. Visit Sunset Piano’s website for more information about the project.