Mardi Gras recap, NOLA 2010

So we always thought that Mardi Gras equaled Girls Gone Wild. Period.

We were so, so wrong.

We would get mad, working at the Burning Man festival, when others more wet behind the ears than our dusty cranky faction would say, “Yeah, Burning Man’s great! It reminds me of Mardi Gras!”

You don’t know what you’re talking about, our subconscious would scream. Have you any idea what it takes to live in a van for 2 months out of the year, in one of the harshest environments on Earth, laboring like a hard-time prisoner and eating nothing but Pabst Blue Ribbon and bacon? … Do you have any inkling as to the effort involved in building a fantastical city out of THIN AIR for FIFTY THOUSAND PEOPLE, and that we have to TEAR IT ALL BACK DOWN TO NOTHING?

(The subconscious, you see, can become quite the Bill Hicks-level righteous aggravationist when faced with 10-hour days under the hot sun in hangovery dust storms.)

But you know what? On Friday and Saturday nights? When we’ve built the city infrastructure and every-thousand ticketholders have come and added the bells and whistles and finally put down the tools to suit up in their finery and go out on the town and look at what other people have been working on all year in their spare time? It DOES remind us of Mardi Gras. Now that we’ve been to Mardi Gras as New Orleans residents, we get it.

dear Pan, please bless the proceedings and continue scaring the little children. And thank you for wearing pants. Amen

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Global Lives at Yerba Buena Center

[BRAF] is supporting The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts presentation of the Global Lives Project, an innovative video installation representing global diversity.

Working with acclaimed filmmakers, artists and designers, Global Lives assembles the realities of everyday life from Lebanon, Serbia, China, India, Japan, Malawi, Indonesia, Brazil, Kazakhstan and San Francisco into an installation by architectural and design visionaries of Sand Studios and Forum.

The opening celebration:

February 26, at YBCA, 7:30-11:30 pm,
(3rd and Howard Streets, San Francisco).

You must RSVP for this free event!

Global Lives was one of the Black Rock Arts Foundation’s 2008 Grant Recipients.  We will be there and hope you will be too!

BRAF Posts about Global Lives

“Ecstasy” in San Francisco

The Black Rock Arts Foundation is proud to support the installation of Dan Das Mann and Karen Cusolito’s sculpture Ecstasy at Patricia’s Green in the Hayes Valley neighborhood of San Francisco, CA. This hopeful, figurative work will be on display, free to the public, from February 7, 2010 till June 18, 2010.

First displayed at the Burning Man festival in Nevada in 2008, Ecstasy is one of the eight monumental metal figures of the artists’ masterpiece, Crude Awakening. In Crude Awakening, these eight figures surrounded a 99-foot tall wooden oil derrick in gestures of prostration, worship and exaltation. Alone, Ecstasy embarks on a hopeful journey. Instead of throwing her head back in reverie to the oil derrick, she gazes wistfully into the open sky as she steps forward into an optimistic future, free of dependency on fossil fuel.

Through our Civic Arts Program, BRAF is pleased to further the evolution of this artwork’s message by exposing it to a new audience and community, and to return to the site of Patricia’s Green. In 2005, this location was the site of BRAF’s first public art project.

Working closely with the residents and business owners of the Hayes Valley neighborhood, BRAF established a model of community collaboration towards the curation and installation of public art. These community members continued to work on bringing art into their neighborhood, forming the Hayes Valley Art Coalition. The installation of Ecstasy at Patricia’s Green further affirms the success of this collaboration, and of the model of public, temporary art installation.

Join us in celebration of Ecstasy at the opening reception:

March 19, 2010
Patricia’s Green
at Octavia and Hayes Streets
San Francisco, CA
4:00 pm – 7:00 pm

BRAF posts about Dan Das Mann and Karen Cusolito

photo: Michael Strickland

Megs Eats World: 2.2 The Australian Adventure Continues

The Country Line Up to Newcastle

ozblogrolaAfter savoring a small taste of Sydney life, we took a train up to Newcastle, a city at the very end of Sydney’s Country Train line. Sydneysiders draws a clear and divisive line between the cosmopolitans and the “bogans” (Aussie slang for “hicks”) as you can either take the Countryline or the Cityline train up the coast. Expecting to find nothing but mullet-heads and high tops, I was pleasantly surprised when Marian and I laid eyes on Phil Smart and his partner, Fiona’s, Rolodor Café. Covered in bright murals designed by a local artist, the Rolodor was clearly a bastion of creativity, a pure labor of love. Just as I saw the glimmer of places I loved reflected in Sydney, the Rolodor and its eclectic charm reminded me of my favorite cafes in my San Francisco Mission neighborhood. I felt even more at home when I heard that my friend Holly from San Francisco, who’d recently moved to Newcastle to spend some time with her mom, had met Phil and Fiona earlier that week when they connected over the Burning Man sticker on the coffee maker behind the counter at the café. Similar to my experiences at Burning Man, where there seems to me to be more of a connectedness between encounters and events, delightful synchronicities sprung up for me everywhere in Oz. It made sense to me that on a travel through a new Burning Man world, I would feel like I was in Black Rock City.

Panorama of Rolador by Maid Marian
Panorama of Rolador by Maid Marian

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Megs Eats World 2.1: Adventures in Australia

Melbourne Mural

Boarding the 14-hour flight to Sydney, Australia, a flurry of butterflies filled my belly. Though I’d been daydreaming about this trip for some time, it only now felt real. Stepping off this plane in Australia would put me farther than ever before from my family, friends, and community in San Francisco. However, the knowledge that I’d be welcomed into a network of Burners in Australia and New Zealand made the start of my journey much less intimidating, the gap between our continents that much smaller.

Maid Marian and I had crafted a tight itinerary for our travels abroad and had a lot to accomplish in a short amount of time. Our first mission was to connect with the movers and shakers behind the upcoming OzBurn Seed 2010, Australia’s first Regional Burn that will take place in June, 2010. Over the past several months, I’d shared countless conversations and emails with Burning Man Australian Regional Contact Robin and local community organizers Phil Smart and King Richard about the work they were doing to nurture the growth of the Burning Man community in Australia. Though I knew that the work they were doing was significant, from my desk in San Francisco—and without a background in Australian culture—I had a limited frame of reference through which to understand their experiences. By visiting them in Australia and connecting with the local Burning Man community, I hoped to gain the perspective I needed to comprehend what their contributions meant to the international Burning Man Regional Network.

View from our plane over Sydney: Photo by Maid Marian
View from our plane over Sydney Photo by Maid Marian

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Burning Man Earth Technology Helps Haiti Relief

The Burning Man Earth team has created an iPhone Application to help rescue workers on the ground in Haiti as they help the country recover from the recent devastating earthquake.  Andrew Johnstone of the BME team wrote to Carmen Mauk of Burners Without Borders to tell her about it, as BWB teams are hard at work on the ground in Haiti.

The prospect of their future aspirations for this project depends on resources, volunteers, and money. If you’d like to help with forwarding this technology, email bmanearth (at) burningman (dot) com. Andrew writes:

“Hi Carmen,

Just to let you know that as soon as the Haiti quake hit, our main software developers for Burning Man Earth, Jeff Johnson and Mikel Maron, both got their sleeves rolled up and put together an interactive iPhone app with up-to-the-minute cartography for rescue workers on the ground. I am humbled that they are on our project and honored to call them friends.

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Mardi Gras (And Another Pre-Event Costume Frenzy)

Mardi Gras in New Orleans, like the Burning Dude, is impossible to explain during just one cafe conversation. Like the Burning Dude, too, a newcomer needs to remember EASY DOES IT: enjoy the first year, don’t be too ambitious, focus in on one or two aspects, and branch out from there. Mardi Gras is a lot to swallow, and us, we’ve only just begun to chew.

For a good history of Mardi Gras: read here. Zulu parade: Here. And Mardi Gras Indians: Here and here.

(Mardi Gras Indians = feather envy)

Someone asked yesterday what we going to wear for our first Mardi Gras as New Orleans residents. “Do we NEED a costume?” Yes!, they said. Ohhhhh crap. Another lesson learned quickly: This is the high holy holiday in New Orleans, and even if thou art just walking down the street, thou shalt style thyself accordingly.

We are not the kind of people to show up un-costumed to a costumed event. In fact, quite the opposite. A friend offered to loan us her costumes from last year … but that just didn’t … feel … right. For our kind, costumes must be hand-crafted, filled with the spirit, and wearable post-event — not store-bought, forgotten about, and donated to the community center along with the bridesmaid’s dress and the fondue set. Our threads won’t be anything fancy — but they’ll be ours. Even at this late date, we’ll get it done.

Preparation for the fete is the spell we cast; costume, the pre-battle warpaint. As we make black-and-gold streamers for the Saints Superbowl game-day party at the Village, we wish on the Saints to win. As we cobble together the effluvia found during our Year One in NOLA, in hopes of crafting a costume that doesn’t suck … our fabric, our spirit, our memories, our treasures ground-scored and laid aside for occasions just such as this, and for that one other burning dude in August … we reflect and ponder and plan for the future. Certainly, many folks in New Orleans — especially the Mardi Gras Indians — are doing the same.

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FIGMENT – Call for Art!


video: Carol Binkowski

FIGMENT is an annual celebration of creative culture on Governors Island in New York Harbor. It provides an open forum for artists, helps build a creative community and fosters participatory and public art. This year it will be both in NYC and Boston.

FIGMENT submissions are open for the pavilion, minigolf, and sculpture garden!
Call for Art!

They also need members of the team, check it out!

figment description