No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man was an exhibition at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) in Washington, D.C. from March 30, 2018 to January 21, 2019. This traveling exhibit brings to life (as much as is possible inside a museum space) the annual Burning Man nine-day event that occurs in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert with 70,000 participant-spectators. We found the exhibit by accident while wandering around D.C. and just decided to walk in.
The Burning Man sculpture is always made of wood and burned at the end of the event. The first Burning Man was constructed in San Francisco in 1987 and was eight feet tall (or nine feet, depending on the source). Each year the sculpture has been taller, rising to 75 feet in 2018. The Burning Man in the photo is about eight feet tall, including the outstretched arms.
Of the “Ten Principles of Burning Man,” “Participation” appears to be the principle behind the naming of the Renwick exhibit: No Spectators.
Burning Man 2019 will occur from August 25 to September 2 this year.
Burning Man at the Renwick Gallery
This photo was taken on October 1, 2018. It is a selective color image with only orange, black, and white. Specs are:
Recently we visited the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. After viewing traditional art in the West Wing, we used the moving walkway through the Concourse to the East Wing, where modern and contemporary art is displayed. The Concourse is enveloped by the 200-foot long light sculpture Multiverse by the American artist Leo Villareal (b. 1967). According to a National Gallery of Art webpage,
“[T]he work features approximately 41,000 computer-programmed LED nodes that run through channels along the entire 200-foot-long space… Once the appropriate hardware was installed in the existing architecture, the artist programmed sequences through his custom-designed software to create abstract configurations of light. His programming both instructs the lights and allows for an element of chance. While it is possible that a pattern will repeat during a viewer’s experience, it is highly unlikely. Still, the eye will seek patterns in the motion, a perceptual effect of the hypnotic trailing lights.”
While this sculpture was only intended to be on display for one year, until November 2009, it is still in place and mesmerizing visitors every day.
Yesterday we found something unexpected in our back yard: a feather that, until yesterday, had soared through “our” woods on the wings or tail of a barred owl. We were not surprised that there are barred owls near us, because we have seen a pair in the early mornings staring back at us (swiveling heads with piercing eyes) and we have heard them whoo-whooing in the dusky evenings (“Who cooks for you?”). We were surprised at the size and condition of the feather. This morning the feather was gone.
Just below the Hungarian Parliament Building in Budapest, on a ledge above the Danube River, is a sobering yet beautiful memorial to 20,000 Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Ferenc Szalasi, the Hitler-installed head of the Hungarian government and leader of the antisemitic, fascist Hungarian Arrow Cross Party, was instrumental in causing their deaths. From October 1944 to January 1945, Arrow Cross firing squads rounded up groups of Jewish men, women, and children, marched them to this location on the Danube, forced them to strip off their clothing (especially their shoes), and then shot them at close range so that they would fall into the freezing-cold river below and be carried away by the currents. This permanent memorial, created by sculptors Gyula Pauer and Can Togay, consists of 60 pairs of shoes cast from iron (now rusted) in front of a 40-meter long stone bench with three cast iron signs. The signs state, in Hungarian, English, and Hebrew:
To the memory of the victims shot into the Danube by Arrow Cross militiamen in 1944–45. Erected 16 April 2005.
Shoes on the Danube Promenade
The reconstructed shoes are placed as if they had just been removed by their owners. The real shoes would have been gathered by the executioners and sold on the Black Market. Visitors to the memorial have adorned the permanently-installed shoes with symbolic items of mourning and remembrance: stones in the shoe cavities, flowers in shoes and on the ground, salt in containers and spilled on the ground, and candles.
Shoe on the Danube Promenade
These photos were taken just after 11 AM local time on April 18, 2019, with a Canon 200D.
Here is a photo to help get you though the hot days of summer. The image was captured between sweeps of our car’s windshield wiper as we traveled home this past January in a snowstorm. (Never take photos from a moving car, right?) Heavy snowflakes are being blown sideways to add to the blanket already covering the pine trees bordering the roadway.
The Art of Blowing Snow
This photo was taken on January 29, 2019. The color is original.