Saturday, November 1, 2014

Burning Man 2014: Simpsons producer, David Silverman drew my nude portrait!

For the last several years, our theme camp, the Cartoon Commune has hosted life drawing sessions.  All are invited, to sit and draw the volunteer models who pose on the stage.  Anyone may pose, and they needn't be naked, but nudity is preferable when studying the human form, as well as at other times.

I love to draw and sketch, and so value the opportunity to draw an unmoving naked person.  Usually, I give away the best drawings I do to the model who posed for them.  Sometimes I take a picture of my drawing, but mostly I just appreciate the practice and being able to gift my work to others.

This year we almost didn't repeat the event, but Gerflash, our stalwart leader and my dad, insisted, and when it began I found myself drawn to participate.  There were plenty of people who wanted to volunteer to be drawn by the thirty-odd people drawing, but during a slight lull, I found myself jumping up to pose.  Again, I almost didn't, or I didn't really need to, as someone else would have.  But as it happened, I quickly stripped and settled in to a relaxed pose to hold for about 5 minutes.

Afterwards, one of the artists came up and gave me his work, the drawing below.  He commented that it was like "El Greco."  I had to admit I didn't get the reference, so he explained that El Greco was an artist that portrayed very angular bodies.  I told him that my body just was angular like that. We exchanged names and shook hands, and I didn't make the connection of who he was.

Later, when he was talking to my brother, Phil, he said his name again, and it clicked.  "Oh!" I said, "You're that David Silverman?"  He said yes.  "And aren't you the guy that plays the flaming tuba with the Burning Band?"  Again, yes.  I had been aware for awhile that one of the producers of the Simpsons was a burner and played a flaming tuba, and here he was, in our camp, enjoying our event, and drawing me naked!

Apparently, he was camped nearby at the French Quarter.  I couldn't help myself, and gushed that I love his work, and have memorized many Simpsons episodes.  At this point, his face fell a bit, and he seemed a bit nervous, probably thinking, "oh great, just what I need, another stalker at burning man."  I had no intention of bothering him, of course, just wanted to express my appreciation for a body of work that has shaped my comedy style.  

His drawing was one of the greatest treasures I've received at Burning Man.  Often when I see someone's drawing of me, I cringe, praying that I don't look like the guy in the sketch.  But this relaxed character, I was happy to be represented by.  I was actually proud to be looking that way: anemically skinny, not a bit of body fat to be found, lithe and smooth like a panther.

Portrait of the free radical by David Silverman.
Burning Man 2014

Update: I forgot to mention that during this life drawing session, my actual brother and all-around bro Daniel Ari, aka Fango, asked me to draw figures on his cheap wide-brimmed hat which he had picked up hastily at the last minute and wanted some decoration.  I drew nude figures of the live models all over the hat and was happy to contribute.

2014 Burning Man Stories Menu Page

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