There is no bad entrance to a burn. No matter what time, no matter how hard it was, once past Greeters, you know its going to be a grand time. This year, I and my travel partner arrived at Saguaro Man, the annual Arizona burn, on Friday night, and drove down the main road, actually the only road. Bordering the dark and empty street were multi-colored landing lights beckoning us all the way in. These lights, an art piece called Ignes Fatui, became the beacon for the weekend.
We did think it was odd the street was uninhabited. But a burn was happening at that moment and the entire community was mesmerized by the sight of a giant blue frog burning. Car parked and my traveling partner went off in search of his camp. I changed into an orange jumpsuit and walked to the burn, finding my oranges attired campmates holding perimeter. I was immediately grabbed to do the same amid hugs and kisses. What a rush! Fire Frog had been a graceful piece, brightly colored by day and glowing at night. Shame I hadn’t seen it before. I wistfully looked around to all the people in EL wire coats, wearing zany hats and many grins and decided this was not a bad entrance at all.
Saturday was bright and not too hot. It was a great day to wander around looking for art and talking with people. I came across Scotto, our Arizona regional lead. He said about 550 people were in attendance and they brought with them 21 pieces of art. I immediately went on a hunt. While I didn’t find all of them, there were quite a few noteworthy pieces.
Down the main road stood a 6” tall wire “Q” covered with Barbies. Nearby, a box filled with dolls, doll parts, markers, duct tape and string beckoned participants to assemble, decorate, then fasten a doll to the Q. By the time I saw it, Barbie Que was covered with dolls hanging from the center, tied to the edges and taped to every surface possible. The play on words was endearing, but the sheer abandon taken to decorate the dolls brought smiles. It was staggering, how many ways a doll could be decorated with such simple tools.
A forest of grey foam tubes, hanging from a large cube made of pipes stood near my camp. Sylvan Path was a simple yet complex piece. It became a playground for kids by day and a secretive hangout by night. Once in the center opening, I could barely perceive the sounds of birds and crickets. Sitting at camp, giggles and squeals fought my attention as people continually walked, ran or dove into the dark forest.
At my first big burn, I chased down the origin of a fascinating arch of tiny lights that appeared every night above Black Rock City and found Balloon Chain. Each subsequent year, I was thrilled to see that same string of lights. Imagine my delight when a Ballon Chain appeared in the night on Saturday. Such a simple piece, yet so enduring and familiar. Even more delightful were those who came into the burn circle hugging their own lit balloon.
The big burn circle was for Temple Anima. A series of decorated triangular frames with human-like figures holding vigil around the outside, this small but beautiful temple was home to acclimations of affection, loss and self determination. Eye of Temple Anima was a sweet tribute hanging inside, and symbolizing the spiritual eye. They were only visible if you looked up. At night the temple was beautifully lit in an ever changing rainbow and by day it was a place of contemplation. The burn was magnificent as the builder of the temple stood in singular contemplation.
More pieces attracted my attention than I have space to write about. Here are a few; X-Men was a story circle of the likeness of the Man. Sticks and Stones allowed people to burn hurtful words. Fly! was a graceful and fun swing set.
Between the music, art, and burns, Saguaro Man displayed the best of burners. They played, paraded, and sang. They relished in music and fire and displayed their creativity for one fine weekend in the desert.