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° Burning Man Artumnal Dinner and Auction



“It’s like a prom night of Burning Man” said and laughed Andrew Johnstone who invited me to the event. “Come on, meet Flash!”.

Last Saturday I attended the Burning Man annual fundraiser – Artumnal Dinner and Auction event in Terra Gallery followed by after hours at Future Formal Celebration  presented by wonderful Airpusher Collective.

During the dinner I got a message from Larry Harvey. It was wrapped inside of a fortune cookie:

“I love people, I love them passionately. But I have no small talk”.

This message carried throughout the night with a fraction of moments in silence while drawing and observing the beauty of the beings standing in front of me. Like Dana Ullman who was amazed by my Estonian origin, as one of his books is translated into this rare Finno-Ugric language I call my mother tongue. I also enjoyed finding myself in the company of Christopher²: Christopher Vaughan and Christopher Schardt. We talked about Play and Paraluna, interacted with Schardt’s spinning LED-circles and I got permission to draw these two fine gentlemen.

The theme for the event was Time(less) Machine and it was perfectly played out through two welcoming stilt performers – holding an hourglass to stop or move time. Their costumes were so intricate, so well done. Each detail could stand on its own and be a masterpiece. I couldn’t resist to celebrate the meeting of these magical creatures with a sketch.

The mingling of the crowds outside and around the Silent Auction continued upstairs with a live auction and a joyful dinner, opened with more performances and speeches. One of them by Marian Goodell, who encouraged to be kind and loving everywhere with anyone – no matter when being among burners or non-burners.

During the dinner I was fortunate to sit next to Captain Jerry Deal, who showed to the whole table a special napkin trick! When I would meet extraterrestrials and they would like to learn a valuable skill of humankind. I would show this! The napkin trick is making one aware – be present, its connecting and its all about love, humour and humility. Can’t wait for the right moment to pass it on!

After the auction and more conversations, I continued with a natural flow to the Future Formal Gathering to enjoy the music, dance and admire the beauty of burlesque.

Days after the event I received an e-mail:
“Thanks to your extremely generous support we hit a new milestone by raising more than $500,000 in support of Burning Man Project’s Art and Civic Engagement programs! These programs nurture a global spectrum of projects and partnerships inspired by the art and community of Black Rock City and beyond. Programs include Art Management, such as fire arts, and Honoraria Art Grants for the annual Burning Man event, Civic Arts, Global Art Grants, the Regional Network, Burners Without Borders, and more.”


As a burner it’s hard to just show up for the fireworks, without being part of making the match or sparking the lighter, so I was fortunate to volunteer and get involved in the auction set-up.  To learn some tricks and experience the production side of the coin.

Add to setting up the tables and assembling the exquisite center pieces created by Kate Raundenbush, there was also another meditative task of rolling inspirational quotes into small tubes. During that action I had luck of sharing a conversation with Shawn Saleme, who is a World traveler and a doer. He told about his adventures and dreams. One of them involved India – a tale about young boys who live in the train stations in the city of Calcutta. This story specially caught my attention and brought to my mind a woman named Tara who I met few months ago in Bodhgaya, India – in Dhamma Bodhi. She spends a lot of time in Calcutta, running a school for street kids – helping them to find their way in life through letting them be who they naturally are and showing the value of honesty in every situation. I wanted to connect her with Shawn, but funnily he already knows her well. The expression“World is small” is getting to be more and more a daily reality.   


I was happy to see Edi Hsu piece at the auction. To share the joy and appreciation with a fellow artist, I contacted him afterwards. We ended up talking about Vipassana and his continuity of practise, which inspired me to get back to be disciplined and do the sitting meditation every morning and evening for an hour (not less, as I have lately tended to).

All the topics and sense of our conversation with Edi could be covered with a quote that my dear friend, incredible photographer and passionate dj Sten Roosvald likes to say:

“We rise by lifting others” (by Robert Ingersoll)



On Sunday I woke up at Bernal Heights in a home which each corner could be photographed for Pinterest best ideas for interior design. 

The day started with a delicious breakfast with Namiko Uno, who shared her story about traveling to Zambia, living in tight conditions, but with a sense of being in paradise. Namiko also introduced me to the music of Baaba Maal.

Day continued with meeting Katie Hazard – we shared a little walk and stopped at a cute Cafe St Jorge. I met Katie in April at ELS behind a roundtable, talking about granting in the arts. Now months later sitting in an intimate cafe and investigating the depths of life, I feel truly grateful for this gift of meeting her and being at her company. There is so much unconditional love, honesty and beauty that Katie radiates just being herself and doing what she loves.

In the evening I went for a dinner with Analog (Tom Steele) who encouraged me to bring art to SF Decompression and helped me along the way. Before heading to Gracias Madre, he took me on a spontangeous  tour around Noisebridge hackerspace. Experiencing the place brought me visions what could be transferred to Estonian Creative Space that is forming now on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean among Estonian Burners community. Also, Analog introduced me to flagging and much more. It’s an inspiration-trip to share space with him – the flow of information just pours into the mind like intense monsoon rainfall in Thailand.


I am grateful for the burning experience of last weekend!


While writing the blog, this old tune spontaneously came to mind. So rich, so full of nuances, and yet so light and up-lifting.

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