Saturday, April 21, 2012

Totem's Art Burn

Friend Totem Shriver teaches art (sculpture) at Linfield. I wrote about his show there this spring in my blog "Art in a Leap Year " I pictured a sculpture in that blog that Totem's students made for the express purpose of burning in April. Last night was the appointed day. This is the fourth year Totem's class has built a sculpture to burn but the first year Johnny and I attended. It was quite the scene.

The fun began at 7:30 with a gathering around the sculpture in a wheat field adjacent to (or maybe part of) the Linfield campus in McMinnville. Students and community members shared finger food and talked with old friends and new. Taiko drummers from the Japanese school arrived with their massive drums. One group of spectators brought bongo drums and played off and on; friend Ann gave out elaborate paper flowers she makes that proved very popular with the crowd.

Totem introduced the students who had built the sculpture. He invited all spectators to write down, on pieces of paper that were provided, something that they would like to have go up in flames with the sculpture. Many people did so and affixed them to the structure.

At last the lighting began. Totem shot three flaming arrows into the base of the sculpture. I was not within view of that happening, having stepped way back to get a view of the crowd, the Taiko drummers, and the massive sculpture. Johnny told me the first arrow flew swiftly and was blown out before landing. So Totem shot the next one less forcefully. It fell short of the mark. Totem moved closer. Ultimately two of the three arrows hit their target and the building erupted in flames to the great delight of the crowd. The dramatic booming of the Taiko drums added to the anticipation and excitement.

I put two videos on youtube. The sculpture took so long to burn that I quit taping for a time. The second video shows the final collapse of the sculpture. The Taiko drumming is quite audible in both videos. I love Taiko drums.

We left then to go home and milk goats. Others stayed to roast marshmallows over the coals.

I can't say I've ever spent an evening like that one before. Thanks, Totem! We enjoyed talking to people we seldom make time to visit and to participate in something that felt like a return to the 60s: crazy and exciting and fun.

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