Monday, July 17, 2006

Fire Arts Festival 2006

Summer in the Bay Area is when the minds and hands of creative people turn towards Burning Man projects - the celebration of all things strange, fiery, and artistic held out in the Nevada desert every year. A month or so before it, The Crucible holds their Fire Arts Festival to showcase upcoming Burning Man exhibits, and anything else that generally qualifies as "fire art" - fire breathing and swallowing, fire dancing, sculpture, dangerous carnival games, high voltage exhibitions, hydrocarbon powered anything, things of neon and el wire and LEDs, roaring jet engines, other stuff destined for BM like observation towers and fire or electric amusements.
This year I was in charge of one of the bars - not bartending just hustling to make sure everything went smoothly. It was an amazing event, as always - like a county fair (huge, filled with people and things for them to ooh and aah at, food and drink to spend on, trinkets to buy, and lots of ways to participate. Photos are tough because there are absolutely no lights except the flames from the sculptures, so some shots are from setting up and taking down - more trouble than a carnival because of the size and complexity of the pieces. Yes, a flash can give a clearer picture, but I wanted the colors and the movement of the flames. It is too much for me to describe each photo (does it matter?), so I'll just include say a few words here and there and you figure out which photos I am describing...There are a whole host of "organizations" (a poor term, but what is the one for proto-anarchists?) in the area that are focussed on fire art - many are workshops for making flaming metal sculptures (THERM, Flaming Lotus Girls, NIMBY, and the Crucible and such), and then plenty of individual artists that do it in other ways(Orion Fredericks, Sunbrothers). Nothing remotely commercial is ever in this event (Dupont, for the electric el wire?) - microbrews, crazy urban food, and the absence of mainstream is the look and feel; the worst part is the Porta-Potties (sorry for the brand reference), and they seem to be a necessity. The costumes are outlandish, people wear electric stuff, multicultural as hell, all ages love it, people on stilts and on fire roam, and somehow the city of Oakland allows it because of a perfect track record and a perfect location in a barren parking lot almost under a huge freeway. Our subway (BART) passes right overhead and the flames reach up toward it, and it pauses to watch. Out in the middle of this commercial/urban wasteland it must be look like hell, or something from Mad Max - its good to be extreme.


Blogger credituniondeals said...

Awesome pictures.

7:34 PM  

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