Sunset Piano in Golden Gate Park in Memory of Nina Elizabeth Nilssen

opus3web500Nina was a young San Franciscan Burner passionate about music, nature, human rights and education of all people. During her short life she composed beautiful, startling, personal and passionate music all while often traveling, engaging and interacting with people from around the world.

In the wake of the tragic and senseless murder which cut her life short at the age of 29, family and friends were committed to remembering Nina as the remarkable person she was, and to do it in a way that would make her proud. And so, the Nina Elizabeth Nilssen Scholarship Fund began in 2010 to support Nina’s love of the arts.

Nina’s fund has donated $1,000 to Sunset Piano to support a two-week event celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Botanical Gardens in San Francisco. The Burning Man Civic Arts Program is supporting the program with an additional $10,000.

From July 9-20, the Botanical Garden inside Golden Gate Park will partner with Sunset Piano to bring 12 pianos and a host of amazing performers to its idyllic settings. During this time a number of amazing musicians will play, as well as leaving the pianos open for anyone to play. The installation will last 12 days and will have at least one or two special “concert” days when folks can wander between pianos and experience different kinds of music in different botanical settings.

Showing Promise

alamedaApril picked me up from West Oakland BART in a little blue coupe with a white racing stripe. As we sped off into the sunshine toward Alameda, excitement crackled in the air around her as she described the opening weeks of working on the Temple of Promise.

I was fired up, too. The Temple is immensely important to me, but I’d never been to a build site for one before. I’d never seen one come together from the very beginning. (more…)

There Was a Burning Man Who Lived in a Shoe…

Do you miss stories? I mean real stories with characters and heroic journeys and magic that works. Stories without screens or controls or cinematic cut scenes. Modern life is pretty impoverished in the stories department, which is actually a great reason to be a Burner. Burning Man gives life that sense of a mythic arc, and our Burning Man experiences are inseparable from the stories we tell about them.

Storied Haven is about getting that sense of story back. It’s the latest big art project from Five Ton Crane, the Oakland crew that brought you the Raygun Gothic Rocketship, the Steampunk Treehouse, and the Nautilus submarine. But just like all of their projects, Storied Haven will be like nothing you’ve ever seen before.


Take Your First Stroll Through the 2015 BRC Art Installations

The list of 2015 Black Rock City Honorarium art installations — reflecting a total of $1.2 million in art grants awarded through Burning Man Arts — is now live, so you can go peruse the art-chitecture that will adorn our temporary city in just a few months’ time. Some popular playa favorites will be returning, and some new ones will be made. Here are some sights I saw on my first stroll through the list.

bismuth.e82417db3b054bd69102b408bceadf47The Bismuth Bivouac, “a playful pavilion celebrating the orthogonal geometries that exist in natural Bismuth crystals.” Have you ever looked at bismuth? It is 100% as gnarly as this installation.

Fire Tetris, because Fire Tetris.

The Life Cube Project, which is graciously returning to Black Rock City after its adventures beyond the playa this year.

heads_cathedral.63a1a645272446f08b99ecacbab91051If you’re looking for me, you will probably find me talking to the Lumiphonic Creature Choir between 2:27 a.m. and sunrise every night.

I’m sure every BRC regular is excited to enjoy R-Evolution, the third and final chapter of Marco Cochrane and Deja Solis’ feminine sculptural saga that began with Bliss Dance and Truth is Beauty.

And, of course, there’s the majestic Temple of Promise, which just launched its crowd-funding campaign and needs all our help to fill its essential spiritual role in our city.


Well, I’m ready to go. How ’bout you?

Corpus Christi BWB Beach Clean-Up Nets 8,000 Pounds of MOOP

Sound Stage at sunset (Photo by Jessica Richman)
Sound Stage at sunset (Photo by Jessica Richman)

“My burn name is Parsec,” Patrick Brown of Corpus Christi, Texas told me. “I am previously of Arcattack, still fart around with them but doing chemistry full time at the moment. Been doing BWB events since right after Katrina. Brought 300 pounds of meat to feed the town of Pearlington at the one-year anniversary of the Katrina effort.”

This is exactly the (gender-neutral) cowboy way Burners talk about their adventures, and it was music to my ears. But Parsec isn’t talking about the town-sized bacon party in the Black Rock Desert. He’s talking about disaster relief efforts with Burners Without Borders, which is increasingly part of the Burner job description these days. (more…)

The Temple of Promise


For four years in a row, the temples of Black Rock City have been palatial, romantic, classical in design. Time’s up. Some members of the 2015 Temple crew worked on the enchantingly abstract, boundary-pushing Temple of Flux five years ago, and they have brought that same fluid, organic inspiration to this year’s design: the Temple of Promise.


The Temple of Promise is a guide. It’s a calming hand, and it’s a listening ear. Nestled in its center is a grove of trees. It’s no tower or pyramid or other such shape dictated by logic alone. It is no less a temple for its lifelike forms. It is more.

Scattered amidst the flow of the Temple area, wooden sculptures shaped like stones form a soft boundary. The tapering spiral of the main structure provides shelter and quiet. The lobed spire at its opening will tower 97 feet high. The tail of the building curls into a circle around the open-air grove, a container well suited for gatherings. The trees will be bare at the beginning of the week, but participants will leave their messages on strips of white cloth, which they will hang from the trees like the leaves of a weeping willow.


In addition to the 2010 Temple of Flux, team members have worked in the past with artist Dan Fox on some of the playa’s most imposing and impressive sculptures ever: the Trojan Horse in 2011, Anubis in 2012, and the Alien Siege Machine in 2014. Others have volunteered on past temples in 2007, 2008, 2011, and 2013. This practice and expertise will serve them well. But it is clear from the design of the Temple of Promise that this team brings with it another complementary power that cannot be learned, only listened to: intuition.

Want to get involved? The team is working on their website and volunteer intake process, but in the meantime, like their Facebook page to stay in the loop.

Morris Burner Hotel: A Short Documentary about Burners Transforming Reno

The Morris Hotel in Reno is nothing less than the first Burner hotel in the world. It’s more than 80 years old, and for much of that time, it was dark, dingy, and underutilized. But that all changed when Jungle Jim and his community of Burners got his hands on it.

Now the hotel’s 43 rooms are designed and decorated by artists, and the facility provides space for the practice of the many Burnerly Arts, not the least of which is helping the homeless. The Reno Gazette-Journal has posted an 11-minute documentary on the work they’re doing, which we present here for your viewing pleasure: