August 2017 - a wedding & Burning Man

Hi friends and family,

We have had a very active August. Wedding in Seattle, Burning Man, getting ready for our opening in Santa Fe at Peters Projects and then directly on to Germany.

Don aka Lawrence with dust mask in front of The Temple. We were extremely lucky; we did not have any dust storms while there (only 2 days). And there were no dust storms during the build of the temple (a much longer period).

Our niece Kate Hamaji, my brother Leo and his wife Nora's daughter got married in Seattle to Josh Sellers. Weddings are great! A big family reunion and nobody has died. 

Great to see all my siblings. Before and After photos below. I'm the eldest. I had to laugh when I saw the After. When my two “little" brothers have salt and pepper hair, I guess it’s pretty obvious that someone is dying their hair - not mentioning any names.

Okay. Maybe we’re not so cute as we once were, but we seem to have most of our faculties.

In between getting ready for our exhibition at Peters Projects in Santa Fe, doing our taxes (personal and Magnolia), running Magnolia, Don and I took time off to see our daughter Marisha's awesome temple design at Burning Man. Marisha Farnsworth and Steve Brummond are lead architects and artists for Temple 2017 and Mark Sinclair is lead structural engineer.

Photo credit: Mathew Gilbuena. Thanks, Mathew!

Packing for Burning Man is not like packing for anything else except for possibly a camp-out in the Gobi. We had to bring sheets, pillows, food, lots of water, gifts for the fellow Burners you'll meet, some type of exotique costume which is easy for me as my clothing taste can run to the eccentric with a definite lean towards The Orient; Indian, Japanese, Chinese and variations thereof. 

Of course our meagre preparations are as nothing compared to the tremendous amount of prep and organisation needed to put Burning Man on. I really can't imagine it. 

Flew into Reno Thursday night with a plan to make the 2.5 hour drive Friday morning. Unfortunately SW Air misplaced our luggage, so we didn't receive it until the next morning. SWA told us that TSA officials sometimes will pull luggage out if they find improperly wrapped wine bottles, which they confiscate for later pickup. So we figured we would find our wine bottles missing from our luggage. They were there, so we're not certain why our luggage (alone from the flight) was delayed. 

After the postponed start we arrived at the playa to wait for hours in an 8 lane line of vehicles. And BM has not even started yet. These are people who are helping set up and have special permission to arrive early. 

Leaving us in the dust.

Lots of dust, an alkali compound/blend. Burning Man is located in a vast dried-up lake bed. I think it’s been dry and dusty for eons. The dust is so alkali that it actually feels great to spray yourself with vinegar water. We used that to clean up.

Back to the line to get in, the Burners are the most mellow people in the world and some of the most generous; we haven't heard one horn honk, even when there is a half block gap in the line and other cars are cutting in after waiting a suitable period of politeness; maybe 10, 15 minutes or so. 
Hours waiting with poor or no internet connection, our only entertainment some of the most attractive bodies ever seen, in various stages of undress, and some interesting costumes also, of course. 

Then amazingly we saw David Best and Maggie; David in a beautiful intricately carved wood trailer, followed by an Airstream with Maggie and brother in law. So great! They said we could follow them to First Camp. 

David's incredible art car van.

Following David into the sunset.

We found The Temple crew and boy, did they look tired.

Some of the crew listening to Marisha. They look as if they had just climbed out of the mines. And so many of them look so exhausted after working all day in brutal heat. Apparently there was going to be a night shift that worked until 4 am. 

What dedication! And they’re all volunteers.

The temple still in process, but nearing completion.  A lot of work gets done at night as it is so hot during the day.

Tried to snap a photo of the guy to the right who was working on the temple in a gold lame stretch bikini, but he and his buddy turned around and started posing.

Don took a photo of him climbing the structure.

Marisha, Era and Don, properly hard-hatted.

David Best and Marisha; the master and young graduate

Moving on. The Flower Tower (built in Petaluma). It lights up beautifully, but never got a good shot close up when it was lit.

You could climb up via stair-like ladder inside the narrow supporting piers.

Or you could be hauled up by the central metal cage, wheelchair friendly.  Flower Tower is metal and is not intended to burn.

The Victrola, built in Oakland, CA. It was a stage for musical and other performance acts.

The Victrola crew clustered around David. David is like a god at Burning Man, people run up to him and are excited to get their pictures taken with him.

A piece by a NY artist whose name i can’t recall. 

You sit in the petal-shaped chair which looks as if you’re about to plug into the Matrix, but instead your heart rate is monitored and causes the LEDs on the giant hourglass shaped sculpture to pulsate. I didn’t see it lit; we are here before Burning Man happens, and things are still being assembled and built.

We’re staying in what would be considered super-luxe accommodations for Burning Man; a large decked-out Airstream. It has air conditioning, a bit iffy, as the power cuts out sometimes, and the unit itself froze over from excessive use. Fortunately, it thawed out eventually and got back to work. We were asked not to use any of the plumbing, so used the communal outhouses (which were emptied out twice a day - part of the mammoth upkeep and organization of this temporary desert city of 70,000 people), took sponge baths. We never did find the showers, maybe a closely-guarded secret. We did meet some shower angels, though, during our last meal. Their job was to make certain the showers were in good order.

Internet is spotty out on the Playa; the point is to disconnect, so nobody seems too worried about it. The US Forestry Service was putting together an exhibition on the temple (the Marisha-designed one) which is built from pine trees which had been killed by the pine-boring beetles. The Forestry Service was trying to receive some beautiful photos of the temple and crew taken by Mathew Gibuena, but the connection was way too slow. So they asked us to please get in touch with him and download his photos onto Don’s memory stick.

The next day we borrowed David and Maggie’s tandem bike and went out looking for Mathew in a different part of the camp. He had already left to go to the Temple, but we did speak to his neighbor, who was setting up his tent. They were into Positive Spanking. The neighbor told us we could have any kind of spanking we desired, as long as it was positive. We could choose any background music we wanted, costumes. Of course, it wasn’t pain-free, but he said it was not as painful as you might imagine spanking to be. We politely demurred.

The following are some beautiful photos of the early stages of the Temple build taken by Mathew Gilbuena:

Thanks, Mathew! (Mathew and friend above)
Back to our photos: 

Don in front of the Burning Man Temple (not Marisha’s temple). This is the temple where the man, who has been described as a loving and good person, tragically ran into the fire during its burn.

Getting ready to crown David’s extraterrestrial beetle bus with a golden spike.

Making progress on the giant tree. Every leaf has LEDs and they light up at night.

Met some of their crew, international, but main guys from San Francisco, I think. David is shaking hands with a young Irish man who now lives in Australia. We met a team from Finland on a different build; French, Spanish, people from all over the world. I'm not sure how they made their way to Burning Man; it's difficult enough for your average American to get in.

Someone has paid tribute to the Port of Oakland “Trojan horses.”

Photo shoot

A rainbow over her right shoulder

Era's Burning Man hat

Inside Dr. Deb's trailer with Maggie Roth, David's wife. We were very impressed by how warm, welcoming and loving the people we met at Burning Man.

Our niece Sara Crawford in front of the Temple; now with part of its "cloud" in place.

More progress has been made on the tree. I heard that this tree pays tribute to an ancient tree destroyed by warring factions in the Middle East. It's fabulous when it lights up in different changing colors at night. We met a young German man who was scheduled to play his grand piano on the tree's stage after BM started. 

Flower Tower in the daylight

The dragonfly by a woman staying in First Camp; her name was Ping, I think. I was told she was instrumental in developing 3D printers.

And finally some photos from the internet of the completed Temple.

Stay tuned, as we're on the road again. We had an opening at Peters Projects in Santa Fe, and now in Germany.

Love, Era and Don