Artists! The Black Rock Arts Foundation is now Accepting Grant Applications!

cardboardia thanks BRAFCardboardia one of [BRAF]s 2009 Grantees!

Artists! The Black Rock Arts Foundation is now accepting grant applications for community-based, interactive art projects around the world. Apply now!

BRAFs grant recipients represent a range of ideas and interactions worth celebrating. Some of their grantees set out to create highly interactive, publicly engaging work in the spirit of the art experienced at Burning Man.  Others extend existing collective art projects, continuing the momentum and reach of their works.  Others still employ a valuable connection with the emerging Burning Man Regional Network, expanding BRAF’s geographic reach, while nurturing individual artists’ capacity to create works in and with their own local communities.  Seed and challenge grants given in this cycle help artists obtain further support.

No more ACE in the hole – RIP ACE Junkyard

We finally lost ACE Junkyard to the ravages of an unreasonable San Francisco landlord. She won only on a technicality, after a long expensive battle by Bill Kennedy, proprietor extraordinaire of ACE Junkyard.

I hope many of you know the wonders of San Francisco’s ACE Junkyard.  If not let me clue you in to the significance of what we are losing.  Bill who is also known to some of as Billy the Junkman, Junkman or even Belinda, has been the purveyor of fine junk in San Francisco for over 25 years and ACE has been THE resource for playa artmaking in Bay Area for over 15 years.  Let it be known Bill has provided an incalculable about amount of funding for playa art in the last 15 years, in the form of JUNK – wondrous, glorious, re-usable, transformable, JUNK!

Scott Beale / Laughing Squid

Scott Beale / Laughing Squid

Over the years this junk has evolved into many ground-breaking forms of art.   Junk from ACE has been transformed into SRL’s machines, SEEMEN’s interactive work and Cyclecide’s pedal-powered carnival.  The list of artists doesn’t stop there. The following incomplete list of artists can all thank Bill for his uncanny ability to find that essential widget or for donating his  Junkyard venue to events like the famous Power Tool Drag Races: Flaming Lotus Girls, Rich Humphrey, Jarico Reese, Laird Rickard, Paul the Plumber, Big Daddy, John Law, Jim Mason, Michael Michael, Simone Davalos, Kimric Smythe, Shannon O’Hare, Sue Glover, Dan Das Man, Karen Cusolito, Scott Gasparian, Charles Gadeken, Kal Spelletich, Mark Perez, and Chicken John.

Come celebrate and say Goodbye to our favorite Junkyard on Saturday October 31st, Halloween at Cellspace 5020 Bryant Street. The Junkyard will be gone, but Bill remains and I’m sure he will figure out other ways to enrich us.

“The other side of it is…. well it was and is worth ever penny of it. The people, events, art, and most importantly to me the parts of myself that I found, and the person that I have become. A large part of who am now is because of the love and support on my family of friends I have made from this place.” -Bill The Junkman

Do you have a favorite ACE or Bill memory?

Make it real

Sweet thing is there to turn plans into reality
Sweetthang is the person who draws the lines in the sand

Take your plans and make them real.

For a lot of Burners, it’s a yearlong task. You plot and plan and meet and talk. You have an idea for an art car, and you wrestle with the logistics and the money and the know-how, and sometimes it comes out great and sometimes … well, it’ll be better next year. It’s an evolutionary thing. Same thing with art projects. Oh yeah, it was all going to fit together just fine. Except it didn’t. And then you had to adjust.

It’s like that for a lot of people in the Burning Man organization, too. A lot like that. And no one knows  it better than Sweetthang.

It’s Sweetthang’s job to translate the map of the playa, and the flags on the ground, into actual camp layouts. She has to adjudicate border disputes. She has to confirm (or deny!) where your theme camp begins and ends.

The task  has to be daunting. You know how hard it is to make what appears on your planning sheets actually show up in the desert dust. No, the DJ booth goes over HERE.  And it faces THAT WAY, not like this. And the sun showers go BEHIND the recycle stuff, not in front of them! Sheesh!

Ok, now exponentially increase the complexity of the undertaking. Imagine trying to figure out where it ALL goes, what ALL those flags in the ground are supposed to mean. Oh, the electrical wires are buried here? The spider box goes over there? Oh, then we can’t have the Airstream park like that. It’s got to go over here.

You get the idea.  40,000 people showing up with there own ideas about how it’s all supposed to come together, about where they’re going to set up, but the map says no. And you’re the person who has to figure it out. That’s Sweetthang.

Of course, things happen. Adjustments must be made. Because really, one of the best things about having a plan is changing it.

So the question is this: How’d you do? Did it all come together the way you thought it would? What did you learn this year that’s going to come in handy next year? Tips and tricks for playa preparation are most welcome …

sweet thing 2-1 copy

New York City Decompression This Weekend

nyc decom banner

Decompression season continues: Just a quick note to remind you that New York City Decompression is this weekend.  If you leave right now, no matter where you are you could still arrive in time for the 4pm start time this Saturday, but especially if you are in the area you should check it out.

For more information click here

I especially love the photo gallery on flickr

LA Decompression

IMG_0296 36 and croppedIt is Decompression season and my favorite time of year.  This was our 10th year at San Francisco’s Decompression. It feels like home, we have a spot where we hang out with friends and we can take a cab there and back, talk about easy…but we were going to be in LA last week and went to check out LA Decompression and it was fabulous.

ina joe aiden croppedWe stayed at my friend’s house in the Valley, we have known each other since the early 80s and are very close so I wanted them to know more about this big thing in our lives known as [BM].  We had dinner outside at their house, it was balmy, and then got in the hot tub, where it was like we were at a spa with a waterfall pouring over us.  What a luxurious way to start LA Decompression weekend.

IMG_0305On Saturday off we went to “the cornfield” in downtown LA.  We had a blast, we walked around, Aiden’s favorite moment was dancing among the bubbles at Disorient, sat in the rickshaw, had some great food, watched the hoopers, and then it was time for them to go.


Black Rock City 2009: Officially GONE

2009 MOOP Map (click to enlarge)
2009 MOOP Map (click to enlarge)

We’re happy and proud to share this glowing report, received from Black Rock City Superintendent Tony “Coyote” Perez:

“The vanishing of Black Rock City ’09 was complete today with the passing of our annual October BLM playa surface inspection.  Roger Farshon was the BLM agent presiding and was deeply pleased to inform us that we passed well under the limits set by us and the BLM (those limits being less that one square foot of debris per acre of BRC city site).  Judging by his initial observations, Mr. Farshon was of the opinion that MOOP levels were lower than last year’s.

The MOOP map, which will be on display at Decom, was over all greener that last year as well. Especially Center Camp…!!  There were not as many red areas, but the ones that were the worst ever.  Fewer offenders are offending worse.  Don’t they know that they are surrounded?!

This marks the eleventh passed inspection in a row with a steady overall improvement as our event matures.

Special thanks, and all my love and respect to an amazing crew that toward the end had been enduring sub-freezing temperatures and snow, picking up litter for days on end, and kept their cheer and good spirits to the last.

Special thanks to my fellow Ops team members that kept the project on track and worked tirelessly, flying the ship through mine fields with just a few dings in the paint job. To DA the Playa Restoration Manager – he has become an expert in his field. To Logan, our volunteer coordinator for orchestrating and taking care of this amazing crew. And to the super staff of managers that each owned their tasks to the highest levels of professionalism.

I am not a person with shit-loads of money – but I am extremely wealthy in family, friends, and a community that truly is changing our world.  We are succeeding in getting an entire city to pick up after themselves – there’s hope for us yet!

City Superintendent

We’d like to add our heartfelt thanks to this hardy crew!!  If you agree, let ’em hear it in the comments.

Party pics


It’s easy to have mixed feelings about Decompression gatherings.

On the one hand, it always feels great to be digging out the playa wear and smelling the dust again.

Ah, the smell of the dust. Even if you’re on the anal retentive side and meticulously wash all your clothes and oil down the chains on the bike and run the car through the car wash three or four times, the smell of the dust rises up and bites you when you least expect it.

You turn on the defroster in the car and  plumes of the playa coming rushing out of the vents. Or you come across a scarf in a backpack, and it is still covered in a lovely dusting of white. Or maybe you missed one pair of shoes in the back of the closet, and when you go for Decompression footwear, there they are, just back from Center Camp.

decompression-12Anyway.  Sunday was a day to dig out all that stuff, but like we were saying, it’s easy to have mixed emotions. Because after all the fun, and all the laughing and eating and drinking and dancing, at the end of it all you are not sleeping under the stars, and there is no Man to guide your way home. No. You are going to wherever it is you call home. You are most decidedly not on the playa any longer. And that always stings.

No matter. Decompression is a lovely reminder of the event, and for that we were all pretty happy on Sunday.

There were lots of clowns and stilts and fur, but maybe not as many blinkies and el wire as might have been expected. And you could buy food and drink. What a thing. And there plenty of shrieks and shouts from the reunions taking place all over the Dogpatch streets. It was a lot like Homecoming weekend, only without the football. A lot of your favorite people in the world were gathered in one spot again. Nothing wrong with that at all. Not a thing.

And the San Francisco venue has changed for the better over the years. Decompression used to be held in a parking lot near the baseball stadium, and while the square footage might have been bigger, it had no atmosphere at all. Unless you call macadam and hurricane fences atmosphere. Now it’s in a funky neighborhood, lined with trees and low-slung buildings. It definitely feels more home-y.

But one little question: Can’t we burn some stuff next year? I’m sure the fire department would hate it. And there’d be expensive permits and emergency crews and all the rest of the city rigamarole to contend with. But still. It’d seem only right.

Lots and lots more photos after the jump.



Sweet serendipity

balloons copy 2

One of the lessons of the playa is that sometimes you find what you didn’t know you were looking for.

There’s a word for it: serendipity. Black Rock City may be one of the most serendipitous places on the planet. You can go off looking for one thing, but you come upon something that seems far more valuable than what you originally set out to find.

Maybe you went off to meet up with friends, or to hear a certain DJ, or maybe you headed to a class to learn how to tie up your partner. But you got sidetracked along the way, attracted to something that, as it turned out,  might have been far more important for you to experience.

Mystery writer Lawrence Block says of serendipity: “Look for something, find something else, and realize that what you’ve found is more suited to your needs than what you thought you were looking for.”

Basic needs can be taken care of that way sometimes: You set out for Center Camp in search of an iced coffee, say, and along the way you come across a pancake breakfast yours for the having.

Or you are going across the open playa at midnight, trying to catch up with the friends you haven’t seen for hours, and a small light catches your eye. You approach and find yourself standing at a martini bar, and you didn’t realize until that moment that a perfectly made, ice- cold vodka martini was in fact the exact thing you were really looking for.

Some serendipities can be more spiritual, more nourishing for the soul.

Tell us about yours …

lights copy 2