What do you get when you put 70,000 people in the desert for a week with no cell phones and an “anything goes” mentality? …A social experiment celebration called Burning Man. Beginning as a small, end of summer bonfire among friends on San Francisco’s Baker Beach in 1986, it later exploded in popularity in 1991. Now it is a one of the major cultural events on the planet! Attendees, called “burners”, travel to the Black Rock Desert in Nevada every August, shed the confines of normal society, and assume new names like Sizzle, Saute, Headwound, and SparklePony.
Some of the rules in this well-organized temporary city are inclusion, radical self-expression, communal effort, civic responsibility, leave-no-trace, and participation. It is a gifting economy as no money is exchanged (except for ice and coffee), but rather people do tasks to help each other and are gifted items and services. When packing for the event, you throw in extra to share. Pendants are a common gift exchanged out of love or respect (think up-scale Mardi Gras beads).
Interestingly, there seems to be a juxtaposition of opposites swirling around with the desert sand, which is not actually sand but a lightweight dust due to Black Rock being a dried up lake bed. Temperatures soar to 110 degrees during the day but dip below freezing at night. While you don’t spend money there, it’s not cheap as tickets are $400-$1200. The laws of Burning Man say drugs are prohibited but it seems many of the burners are in an altered state(?) Some attendees are on a spiritual journey, and others a hedonistic one. And there’s the juxtaposition of enormous, high tech, sophisticated art displayed in a primitive, desolate setting.
The coolest part of Burning Man for me of course is the art. Some of it is worn, some created for displays at the week-long celebration, and some evolves from ones’ experience as a burner. If you didn’t get your ticket to Nevada this year, there’s good news! An exhibition called No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man is on national tour and is at the Cincinnati Art Museum until September 2, 2019 (after which it travels to Oakland, CA). Below are photos taken at a recent visit to the exhibit which fueled the flames of my curiosity. I hope they spark your interest as well.
Give this ole Farmgirl a tent, some firewood, fixins for s’mores, and a flat spot in the woods and I’m a happy camper. As art so often does, my pre-conceptions were turned upside on a recent visit to the CAMP: Notes on Fashion exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There were no tents, no trees, and while there were some beloved flames, there were no campfires. This camp was different. Here was a collection of fashion that broke barriers of what was considered the norm, representing a long historic line of fashion forward creative minds.
Walking through the exhibit it was as though I was in an adult version of Disney’s It’s A Small World ride. My eyes danced from Liberace’s diamond studded suit to a dress made entirely of toy stuffed animals. I marveled at how fun we as a people can be when we give ourselves a little creative slack.
The CAMP theme for the Met Gala fundraiser and resulting exhibit this year was derived from a 1964 essay by Susan Sontag who was a writer and social commentator. She described “camp” as a joining of high art and pop culture. The exhibit features clothes that are over the top or as my kids say “extra”. They challenge the status quo often with a dash (or heap) of humor, and meet the fine art requirement in how exquisitely they are constructed with numerous hours of skillful handiwork going into each garment.
After lingering for quite some time, often standing in silent awe in front of a display window, we had to leave the garments and all they stood for to go face the real world, which somehow seemed a little sweeter because of the exhibit. I floated out on a sugar high like a kid who had feasted in a confectionery store. Then, just like icing on the cake, we met the CAMP curator, Andrew Bolton! It was merely a few seconds when he came out a side door in a random part of the museum but we got to shake his hand and tell him how much we enjoyed the show.
So what’s my Farmgirl “camping” experience take-away? Simply put, the exhibit validates crazy outfits and gives designers freedom to have fun. It sets the stage for my daughter and her generation of fellow fashion designers, encouraging them to not hold back. I’m grateful she’ll have that kind of artistic license. It also gives all of us creatives who have ever felt out of place, a place.
I might have always been a tank-top and cut-offs wearing country girl, but I grew up imagining I could be the exotic Cher Barbie doll I played with…and a trip to the Big Apple (make that the Big Candy Apple) and specifically the CAMP exhibit told me sometimes dreams and fantasies to come true.
Visual notes on "...Notes..."
Remember: Sometimes you just have to "vogue" like nobody's watching or you don't care even if they are...like my daughter and I on the steps of the Met!
CAMP: Notes on Fashion is showing at the Metropolitan Museum Of Art in Manhattan, NYC until September 8, 2019.
#metmuseum #metgala #fashion #nyny #travel #manhattan #andrewbolton #vogue #CAMP
"The mountains are calling and I must go." Naturalist John Muir said it first and I get it! When the cold winds blew snow in the middle of April, I found myself sitting by the fireplace and recapping our West Virginia spring break album titled 11 Reasons to Make a Break for the Mountains.
1. Getting to know the local talent.
3. Taking the high road...and the road less traveled.
3. Embracing our heritage! We enjoyed eating at the Hutte Restaurant in Helvetia (Little Switzerland), WV where our taste buds danced with their incredible alpine cuisine! And a stop at the general store offered locally made maple syrup while a Fasnacht mask honoring the beloved late Senator Robert C. Byrd looked on.
4. Pausing to take promotional photos. Here the model holds one of my hand stitched leather clutches.
5. Holding lambs. Their soft fuzzy ears, tightly curled wool only hours or days old, and the smell of lanolin renders them irresistible.
6. Fulfilling the annual tradition of catching loud yet extremely illusive SPRING PEEPERS, tiny frogs with a distinctive X marking on their backs. (We practice a catch and release method.)
7. Simply being still and listening, putting down the phone and exploring. This photo was taken at Holly River State Park.
8. Gathering fresh warm eggs. (Still not sure what compelled me to say yes to helping my sister trim chickens' toenails...)
9. Clearing our heads at 2700 feet while taking care of the Balli Farm, my grandmother's homeplace. We pruned grapevines, mended fences, checked on the new cabin, let the dogs off leash, and spring cleaned the house and yard.
10. Showing my daughter the pine grove I fell in love with as a child. The trees were much bigger but it held the same magic.
11. Being reminded where home is. Sure, if someone had bought me a plane ticket to a warm sunny beach, I might have taken it in a momentary lapse of judgement, but I can say with great certainty how glad I am to have spent spring break in the mountains. Where else do they invite you to don Swiss Army ponchos and split wood, ride dirt bikes in the rain, and watch grandma snow surf on an alligator!?!
Jumpin Jehoshaphat! We said it a lot growing up but I’ve lost the flair for it since moving to a suburb in the Queen City. The befuddled looks directed at me would increase and my teenagers would fail to see me as cool. Still, it’s a power-packed phrase and is the perfect exclamation when one is in shock or in awe. For better or worse, bringing it back is one of my New Year’s resolutions.
Another personal goal for 2018 is to JUMP IN. Maybe you can relate: I habitually find a ton of excuses to procrastinate. Even starting my blog; I’m not ready. I need to do more research. It has to be perfect or people won’t read it. Maybe people won’t like what I have to say. But then faith steps in and I’m reminded to take that first step and trust God for the rest. JUMP IN.
It’s like swimming at our Blue Hole, a large 15 feet deep section of the river, one of hundreds scattered across West Virginia. They are hidden gems where the locals cool off after putting up hay or confess their faith in baptisms. The water running off those ancient Appalachian Mountains is always ice cold so you often hesitate, “hem-hawing” around at first. Some people like to ease into it, some swan dive, cannon ball, even belly flop—the important thing is simply to get into the water, and sometimes that means just JUMPING IN over your head and trusting God to take care of the rest!
I wonder, what is this year’s goal you are making excuses about? Pray about it and make a splash.
Thus my imperfect first blog post is finished…Jumpin Jehoshaphat!
Side notes: Jehoshaphat was a biblical king who in faith asked God for water and God not only gave his thirsty army a valley full of h2O, but also delivered the enemy into his hands! No wonder he jumped! (2 Kings 3)
“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown…” Isaiah 43:2