While registering my art for placement during Burning Man this year, I had to wait for the next step. I sat on a bench with several people around me. I introduced myself to the man sitting nearby, and he said his name is Peter Hazel. This didn’t mean much to me (I’ve never been good at names, nor celebrity-spotting), and he seemed like such a warm and energetic person it was delightful to wait for our turns together. After the entire Burning Man event was over, one of the lines I remember most is “There are some who call me…Tim!”
You’re Peter Hazel?
A fellow artist (and long-time friend) came by to register his art too. I introduced him to Peter, and he was all excited. It was then that I knew I probably should pay attention to all the artist names and their pieces, especially the ones I like. This is my sixth time at Burning Man, and each time I become more aware of different aspects. In retrospect, I became more aware of learning about artists, so I could have a deeper appreciation of their body of work.
When it came to Peter, I am glad I didn’t know much about his prior work. Since I love learning new things, and am always curious, I asked him about what his art was for this year. He told me about how he used to be a mason & tile worker, until he discovered making art with hand-made tiles was more fun. He had two pieces on playa this year, a buffalo and a crocodile. I learned the buffalo (which I later learned he named Tatanka) was made for a competition in Twin Falls, Idaho. Of course, I was extra excited as that was a place I had recently visited during my cross-country move! When he told me he made each piece of tile, I was even more impressed.
Niloticus, aka Tim
Peter’s other art installation was a 40’ crocodile, called Niloticus.
He told me about creating all the tile for it, and how heavy the art piece is (15,000lbs!) – and at the point I met him, he was waiting for the truck to deliver it. I got up my courage and asked if he needed help with it once it arrived. He said possibly, and that I could learn some basic masonry as the feet would need mosaic tile installed. The crocodile is so large that it couldn’t have it’s front feet on the truck. Burning Man offers so many opportunities to learn new things, I thought this would be a fun way to check out tile art!
A little later on…
Later that day, I saw the truck delivering the crocodile. Even at a distance, it wasn’t hard to miss! I gave it some time, and then rode my bicycle over to where the crocodile was being placed. Peter was so excited that it arrived without any damage. His relief and happiness spilled out. We chatted a bit, and he introduced me to the man who created the crocodile’s “scute” (those ridges on the back). Turns out the scutes are made of recycled Jameson whisky bottles! After complimenting Peter on the colors of the croc, he said
“when you create something this big for yourself, you get to choose your favorite colors!”
How inspiring, and endearing his favorite colors happened to be mine too! (Maybe someday I will make big art – in my chosen colors. Let’s make it happen!)
Peter told me the name of this art installation – but Niloticus didn’t mean much to me (it’s part of the latin name for an African croc). He says he calls him “Tim.” The voice in which Peter says this makes me smile. Curiosity got the better of me (as it does, since it’s part of my Adventure Attitude!). I asked about the name.
There are some who call me Tim
Are you a Monty Python fan? Have you seen the classic film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”? Turns out Peter is a fan too. There’s a scene (which I found for you, below) where after a long search, King Arthur and his crew travel to find a grand wizard who knows about the Grail. Rumor has it that the actor (John Cleese) couldn’t remember the long name of the Enchanter. The memorable line, in response to King Arthur’s query, was “There are some who call me…Tim”
Discovering a fellow Monty Python fan was an unexpected joy!
The things that didn’t happen
When at Burning Man, you learn to let go of the outcome. There are a million different ways that things either go wrong, don’t happen, or turn into something even better. In this case, when I showed up later to help install the tiles on the feet, Peter let me know his campmates (and people who’d been volunteering for a while with him) had showed up and managing well. Although disappointing to not be able to help, I understood the excitement of his team wanting to create the art.
While we chatted, a friend of his rode up. Watching them interact was like seeing two buddies who had grown up together as trouble-makers reunite. Peter introduced me to Jerry James. What I learned in that short time was that they met about a year ago, they had many great stories to share, and that Jerry James was the original carpenter who helped Larry Harvey build the first “Man” that was burned all those years ago on Baker’s Beach. Although I’ve learned a bit about Burning Man’s history, I was not familiar with his name. Once again, my lack of “celebrity awareness” kept me from going into fan-girl mode. I enjoyed their warm relationship and boyish charms. I asked if I could get a photo of the two of them, and they consented. This photo will always remain a memory…as something happened (dust!) and the picture wasn’t snapped.
Inspired by these adventures
Using Adventure Attitude
I realized things could have gone very differently, if I hadn’t had the base of an adventurous outlook. Looking back, I can see the different tools I used to make this an adventure. ‘Always be curious’ led me to asking Peter questions, and then more questions. Which led to the possible opportunity to ‘try new things’ (in this case, being offered to learn custom tile work – or placing hand-made tile on cement for the croc’s foot). Each encounter was an adventure, which became the basis for the next adventure (adventures build upon adventures).
I was open to the possibility that I would not get to work on Tim, and was fine if that happened (‘let go of the outcome’.) Reframing how things turned out (turn negatives into positives) made it possible to remain friendly and interested (instead of bummed out). I believe this was, in a sense, rewarded by meeting Peter’s friend (and Burning Man celeb).
Peter has left a lasting impression…I am inspired by his energy and artistry. Who knows, maybe someday a person will come up to me and ask to help on my big art installation! Will you join me on that adventure??
PS – more about Burning Man and my art are in these blogs: https://adventurewednesdays.com/who-gets-to-determine-whether-you-are-a-legitimate-artist/ https://adventurewednesdays.com/catharsis-from-stress-to-adventure/ https://adventurewednesdays.com/brooklyn-bridge-taxis-burning-man-adventure/
I absolutely LOVE Bloom, the jelly by Peter Hazel. Beautiful colors; simply stunning at night!
He also has an octopus, from a few years ago. Somehow I never took photos of it! He has quite the imagination!
Always interesting to hear about the Art at Burning Man–it’s not all sex, drugs, & Rock ‘n’ roll! Also thanks for the Python clip! (by the way, the actor is John Cleese). Lovely to see the Taxis again… although the Town Car needs a bit of a wash-n-wax!
Burning Man is definitely not all about sex, drugs and (ugggh) EDM! Did you know that John Cleese says the rumor is false? He also had quite a few scary, windy moments up on that rocky hill!
FYI re photos from the making of Tim, via Reddit
you are awesome! thanks for sharing this link!!