Phoenicopterus Rex and Several Other Fun but Weird Sculptures… Burning Man 2017: Part 9

Giant Flamingo wearing boa at Burning Man 2017

Burning Man does whimsical well, as illustrated by this giant flamingo with its large purple boa.


Surrounded by a white picket fence and standing on fake grass, the 40-foot-tall Phoenicopterus Rex brought to Burning Man by Josh Zubcoff from San Francisco could be seen from almost anywhere on the Playa. Phoenicopterus, BTW, is the scientific name for flamingo, and in this case, a heck of a big bird. Peggy and I have met many of its smaller cousins in the South, both the beautiful wild kind you find standing around on one leg in swamps, and the more domesticated plastic kind you find adorning patches of grass on many a home. Our daughter, Natasha, loved these birds and decorated her room with them briefly as a teenager. I don’t remember whether that was before or after her Goth stage when she painted her walls black. I gave the room wide berth then, realizing that I might be painted as well.

Photo of Flamingos by Curtis Mekemson.

A pair of the real birds in Florida.

Part of the popularity of theses amazing birds is their ability to perform contortionists acts. Number 48 was a master. How’s that for taking a nap?

A pair of small plastic flamingos came by to visit Phoenicopterus Rex, who was back-lit by the sun but still very pink. I thought the top hats were a nice addition.

Nighttime giant flamingo at Burning Man 2017

Phoenicopterus Rex lit up at night.

The Flamingo was just one of several appropriately weird sculptures with a sense of humor found at Burning Man in 2017. I’ve included several for your entertainment, today.

Tyrannosaurus Rex at Burning Man 2017

It seems appropriate that we should go from a giant flamingo to a tiny dinosaur. This not too scary Tyrannosaurus Rex, was part of the Free Range Animal Automata Menagerie created by Edward Crell from Sonoma, California.

Dusty hippo at Burning Man 2017

The menagerie also included a blue hippo, which reminded me of a mailbox…

Fish catching cat at Burning Man 2017

And a cat that was busy fishing. The automata part in the menagerie’s title came from the fact that each of the sculptures had a rope attached that you could pull to make the animals do things. In this case, kitty’s paw went down to catch the fish.

Keyed up shark at Burning Man 2017

Here’s a fish that kitty best leave alone. Sharks are bad enough when they are calm. This guy was keyed up.

Eye of Keyed Up Shark at Burning Man 2017

Wes Waltenspeil of Reno, Nevada created the shark. Here’s a close up of its eye.

Gummy Bear pyramid at Burning Man 2017

You might wonder why this colorful pyramid created by Dicapria ( a one-name person) out of Long Beach California made my list of weird art…

Panels from Gummy Bear pyramid at Burning Man 2017

It was certainly colorful…

Gummy Bear pyramid close up at Burning Man 2017

But take a closer look. The 12-foot tall pyramid was made up of a hundred thousand Gummy Bears. I might say ‘chew on that thought’ except the Gummy Bears were made out of acrylic and metal.

Giant crane named Coco at Burning Man 2017

In returning to the Big Bird theme, this 150 foot wide 45 foot tall giant crane named Coco was built by the Crimson Collective out of Los Angeles and done in origami style. In addition to its visual impact, it provided welcome shade on the Playa.

Flying unicorn at Burning Man 2017

I’d call this fellow Pegasus except for its fairy-wand, unicorn-type horn. It was an impressive beast. I don’t know who the artist is.

Nighttime flying horse at Burning Man 2017

Here’s the Pegasus Unicorn at night. Check out the totally out of control curly-haired tail.

Chicken and egg sculpture at Burning Man 2017

‘It’s a chicken and egg situation’ according to Andrea Greenlees of Surbiton, UK, who created this sculpture. I’m not sure it answered the age old question of which came first. Burners were invited to climb up the ladder and enter the old girl through her tail-end and frolic among the eggs, however. Maybe the experience provided them with inspiration to answer the question.

Blow up alien at Burning Man 2017

It wouldn’t be Burning Man without a few aliens wandering around, even blow-up aliens.

Back of blow up alien at Burning Man 2017

The back of the alien at night.

Roswell alien at Burning Man 2017

And finally, proof positive of the dead aliens that were found after the UFO crash in Roswell! It’s likely that this fellow was on loan from Area 51.


NEXT BLOG: I intend to look at some of the art pieces that were built with the 2017 theme, Radical Ritual, in mind. Peggy and I are traveling again, this time to Connecticut to visit with our son and his family, however, so blog work will depend on available time.

42 thoughts on “Phoenicopterus Rex and Several Other Fun but Weird Sculptures… Burning Man 2017: Part 9

  1. Had to laugh when I saw the flamingo. I thought – whoever made this has got to have lived in Florida! Would you believe some of my neighbors still have that piece of plastic in their front yards!!? 🙂

  2. Always fun to see your burning man photos Curt. For years Alie and her sister had a running joke to exchange weird pink flamingo gifts. I finally put my foot down and said no more before they found one as big as the one you saw.

  3. I found a wonderful Smithsonian article about the history of the pink flamingos, which originated, believe it or not, in Massachusetts.

    There were several revelations in this post. I realized, for example, that I’ve never eaten a gummy bear. And the chicken made me want another of the metal chicks I had when I was a kid. If you pushed down on it, the thing would lay a marble egg. I kept thinking that “blue hippo” sounded like the name of a business, and then I realized I was thinking of Blue Apron, the meal-kit delivery service.

    I think the Automata Menagerie is my favorite — all of them. Again, it’s the simplicity that’s so charming.

    • I enjoyed the article, Linda. I’ve always regarded plastic flamingos with a sense of humor. If I were ever to put them up in my yard, I’d have a flock of a hundred. If you are going to go tacky, go big tacky. 🙂 The Burning Man flamingo was perfect.
      Gummy Bears now include everything from vitamins to heartburn medicine. They are how our daughter gets her children to eat their vitamins.
      I found a rubber chicken last year that laid an egg and bought it for my son-in-law as a Christmas present.
      The Menagerie was just fun. I had to pull all of the ropes to see what the animals did. –Curt

    • Thanks, Dave. I totally agree on the setting and try to use it as a backdrop for my photos whenever the opportunity arises, which is almost always! And, as you know, I’m a big fan of wide-open spaces. –Curt

      • That would be great around here.

        “Say, do you know where Greg lives.”
        “Never heard of him.”
        “He’s the guy with the blue hippo mailbox.”
        “Oh sure, take the Oakland Road about ten miles south, turn at the old store with the collapsed roof then take a left at the top of the second big hill. Go about a half mile on the gravel. You can’t miss it. So that’s Greg, huh? Never knew his name.”

  4. I love flamingos … but never became a Goth! I can see why you avoided your daughter’s room during that era! The gummi Bear Sculpture is astonishing, where do you get that many gummi bears?? Wow, such patience! I first thought it was a huge woven structure. Many wonderfully and strange objects here for us to enjoy and gawp, giving a real flavour of the event. Thank you so for sharing, Curt!! 😀

  5. That shark of keys is way over the top. Are moths and night flyers attracted to the lights at night? Enjoyed this post immensely. Thank you.

    • Glad you enjoyed it JoHanna. A few years ago, there was a man covered in keys. We don’t see that many insects. A few end up flying around our van when we have our light lit up at night, but never many. –Curt

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