Burning Man of Doylestown, Ohio

Performance art in the spirit of Burning Man

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First Burning Man of Doylestown, Ohio, September 6, 2015

I was trying to persuade a neighbor with a RV to take a road trip to Black Rock Desert to experience the annual Burning Man Festival.  I figured the best way to illustrate what it was all about was to recreate the experience in familiar surroundings, so I brought the experience to Doylestown, Ohio.  The format is simple, with flammable materials, fashion the materials into a sculpture that forms something like a man.  Gather friends and alcoholic beverages, and set the sculpture on fire.

While building the sculpture, the Burning Man became representative of something more than just a pile of scrap wood screwed together into a figure of a man.  It almost became a representation of things that never happened and things that don’t even matter.

Most of the material used in construction of the man form was from a pool table project that I was trying to pursue in 2000.  I obtained a 3-piece 1 inch thick slate, particle board construction, bar room size pool table.  The particle board top and side rails were heavily water damaged, but the slate and slate cradle were in good condition. I figured I would mill new rails in solid oak and rebuild the table.  The cost to mill the oak was just under $600.  I reconstructed the table legs.  Then I realized, I wasn’t that great at wood working nor did I have the proper tools to cut and fashion the wood.  In the attic of the house where I lived, I built the table with the new legs, cradle, and slate.  Stacked 64 linear feet of solid oak against the wall and used the table as an art table for 11 years.  When I moved, I broke the slate into pieces and threw them into a dumpster along with the cradle and legs. I decided to hang onto the oak top and side rails figuring it would be a shame to throw away expensive wood.

In 2015, I needed shelf space in the garage. I used the oak top and side rails to make shelving in the garage work area.  Even if the wood wasn’t used for its original intent, it still was transcended into something useful.  With the shelving finished, I was left with a pile of scrap wood. With this scrap and other scrap wood laying around, the first burning man was formed.

My backyard neighbor, with the fire pit where the event took place, joined in on the performance art by hanging his 20+ marathon finishing metals on the burning man to be set ablaze. He felt these items were hanging around his house that really had no bearing of defining him as a runner.  More so, it was a stand against the everyone gets a trophy that participates.  In the end when we were sifting through the ashes, there was no trace of any of the medals.  It led us to believe the medals were not even made of medal.

Second Burning Man of Doylestown, Ohio , September 3, 2016 

The second Burning Man was a woman. It was originally intended to be an effigy of a nasty woman I know. But the sculpture was too pretty to be that person. So, maybe it was her effigy that went up in flames or maybe it wasn’t. I still don’t know. It could represent anything.
The materials for the form was pulled from the garbage people left on their tree lawns the night before trash pickup. Most of the materials used was a torn down yard swing set with fort and an infants crib. It saddened me a little bit to think that this was something children played on and the crib was something that an infant and toddler slept in. Now it was thrown out in the garbage, fashioned into a sculpture of a woman, and set ablaze. A true sign of our society. 

The sculpture was placed atop of an upside down wooden crate. A pedestal. Where we place women. Inside the crate is where all the scrap wood was placed to burn. With some lamp oil, the statue burned up in no time. Just the same as so many childhoods. 


Eric D Jonke
Doylestown, Ohio 44230


Email: eric@edjart.com