Let’s talk about the Saguaro Man art.  First of all I will not be able to do these displays justice.  Not even a little.  If you have never been to a burn you may not know what to expect.  Art, as we know, comes in many forms and it was no different at Saguaro Man 2017.  Let’s first start with the structures.

Art structures, some big and some small.  We wandered into a couple who were putting four to five foot tall wooden flowers into the ground. (Friendly Flowers!) They had to use this thing (Jeff likely knows the name) to beat the metal holder into the ground then attach the wooden flowers in two places to the metal.  She asked what time it was, it seemed that at that moment their endeavor was taking longer and longer.  We all know, we have all been there.  A labor of love maybe, but sometimes we need food and a sit down.  Jeff being Jeff he picked up a metal bar and the beat it into the ground thing and we started helping. Then a few others showed up.  Then a guy with a hole digger (again Jeff likely knows the correct name) and before you knew it all the flowers were planted!

Saguaro Man Art
Friendly Flowers by Kristin Wesley

Okay side note from the Saguaro Man art, this right here is what it is all about:  If you wander into a burn, and see someone doing something you need to jump in.  Actually in life we all need to jump in, but most especially at a burn.  It makes your experience better.  It makes others’ experience better.  So while “planting” flowers Jeff met John and John was the owner of the Schroeder’s Cat shirt so I got a good giggle there; John’s vehicle was stuck.  So, off we went to pull John’s truck and trailer out of soft dirt.  A buddy of his (Tophat) had followed him in a minivan and yep he was stuck too.   Three vehicles rescued and we were headed back to camp.  (Yea! Jeep!) Again, this is what it is all about.  Helping and being helped increases the entire experience!

More Saguaro Man art.  There were some interesting things. There was a wooden structure that looked like the bone structure of a being that had a wooden floor and lit up in time to the music.  As you walked through, the lights and beat would change.  This was a great piece and took a lot of work to put together.  It was completely fitted within itself so no nails et cetera. Really pretty cool and again so much work and time.

There was a totem pole that played music and different parts of the faces would light up at changing times.  I really liked this one.  It was set to have flames come out as well, however the gentleman, who this was his Saguaro Man art creation, was fixing a gas leak in it so I didn’t get to enjoy the finished piece.  This was absolutely one of my favorites, again the time and work that goes into these things!

There are smaller structures like the Rooster, the Phoenix, the list goes on and on.  These are “smaller” but by no means small.  And the attention to detail.  My word, these folks are talented.  To set out to make something that looks like you intended it to look – well let’s just say that isn’t my talent.  As you start your wander you come upon these structures and throughout the event they may change, or they may not, but there is a good chance you will have the opportunity to see one burn.  To build something so it can be burned is kind of an interesting concept isn’t it?  There is something about watching something that took time, patience and love to build to burn to the ground.

Then there is the temple.  The temple is fairly large and ornately carved.  Really, this thing was beautiful Saguaro Man art.  Again, the time, patience, love and talent that went into this.  People took a lot of time to make this structure enjoyable.  Now what you do is you go inside and write on the walls, leave a little something, and at the end of the burn they light this on fire and the messages go up into the heavens.  It is a beautiful sentiment and an interesting peek into what people are hauling around with them.  You can read all the messages and some are funny, some are sweet, and some are sad.  If you have the opportunity to wander and read a temple at a burn take to heart the messages.  All the things we all carry around with us, it reminds me to be kinder.

Then there were the play structures!  Think a playground for adults.  You can swing, climb, dangle…whatever you wish to do.  It is interactive Saguaro Man art.  Of course at night all these things light up!

Beyond the Saguaro Man art structures there are vehicles.  One was a shack that traveled around the camps playing music (riders on board) that shot fire up the roof of the structure.  There was a fish that lit up and his tail even swooshed (this one was my very favorite – somehow it reminded me of childhood.  I actually wish I could touch on why but this silly fish hit me somewhere deep and tickled the little girl in me).

Saguaro Man Art
An “art Car” that looks like a fish – Finding Nemo? Take the car silly….

A lot of people put in a lot of time to bring these experiences to all of these people, and you really do need to see it to appreciate it. It is all about the experience. Labors of love and all, people creating things to bring joy to others.  Allowing adults to play like kids or watch adults play like kids – either way everyone takes something from it and everyone gives something to it.

It was pretty much cold the entire time we were there.  We had some sun, lots of wind, some rain, different  levels of hail and even snow a couple of times.  We eventually set up our easy up and had some protection from the elements.  When there was wind there were no bonfires allowed and as such it was cold.  Mostly people were bundled up but not all.  I cannot speak to what it was that was keeping them warm but it was definitely something.  The outfits were a hoot.  There is a lot of fake fur, items that light up, kilts, pasties (no nudity at this event) and well the most outrageous (in my opinion) was a young man in a speedo with a pony’s tail attached at the back end.  Seeing what people put together, to express themselves, to stand out, or to blend in, is really kind of fun.  I said earlier it reminded me of a gypsy camp.  Add to that a bit of Mad Max feel (but only in the unique hashing together of things) and that is about the best way I can explain it.

I never thought of myself as a straight laced person and out here in this world I probably wouldn’t be considered one, however we all bring some preconceived thoughts, ideas, and lifestyles with us wherever we go and as much as you try to leave them behind, there is still a part of you that thinks “would I …could I do that?” The wise words from our young traveler at the beginning of my story; “it’s fine you don’t need to….”

Thanks Cory, these simple words I will carry with me.  I will continue in my quest for the why in this world.  Funny, Jeff thinks of me as the more “hippie” in our house and after this experience I believe it is clear that he embraces many and more of the hippiments (hippie elements) in himself.


Maybe we all should discover something new within us each burn, each day, and all those moments in between.


Saguaro Man Art
Shana enjoying some friendly flowers.



Saguaro Man art


A video found on the web of some of the burning at Saguaro Man 2017.  Video is property of Mike Maung



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