Pin It
Favorite

On the Cover: Hug Deli 

click to enlarge Hug Deli - FRANK SPINELLI
  • Frank Spinelli
  • Hug Deli

Photographer Frank Spinelli wants to spread a virus he picked up in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. Symptoms include communal effort, decommodification, and civic responsibility. The diagnosis? Burning Man—a week-long, thriving artistic city in the middle of the desert created solely by its radically self-expressive and self-reliant citizens.

At Burning Man, Spinelli was blown away by the parallels to his hometown of Woodstock. Growing up, he became inevitably infected by the free thinkers and progressive community. At 10, he won his first camera at a raffle. "I was totally fascinated that the camera could see things my eye couldn't. That was my big hook," he says. After studying literature and history in college, Spinelli spent the next few decades shooting for magazines in New York City. Post-9/11, he returned for good to his mountain town and began combining his two disciplines—writing and photography—by publishing The Glorious Mushroom (Ruder-Finn, 2006), a photographic explanation of Catskill-grown fungi.

It wasn't until a nephew's recommendation drove Spinelli across the country in 2012 to Burning Man. It was nothing like he'd ever seen before. Within hours, a completely desolate landscape turned into a sea of rolling manmade "mutant vehicles" (motorized creations assembled from an array of unique objects) and nearly 60,000 people dressed in indescribable decorative garb or just full-on naked painted bodies. "It's like Woodstock and Halloween on steroids," Spinelli says. "You're just so stupefied by the amount of creativity that your species is showing." But it was the way people helped one another that really struck him. "It was extraordinary. You voiced your need for something, and that something miraculously appeared." Something as basic as a free hug, like this month's cover shot, embodies a kindness easily overlooked. And you're not in an environment with just dancing, drugged-out hippies. "It's like a neural network. All of these people are very, very smart who think out of the box."

Fascinated by the event's philosophies, Spinelli began connecting it to Woodstock's Maverick Festival. Maverick was created in 1915 as an art-driven, bohemian carnival to help raise money for the community, while a half-century later Burning Man began. Both Burning Man and the Maverick Festivals focus on "transitory Utopias." Spinelli spent two more Burning Mans riding a bicycle in a surgical mask and speed goggles as a press photographer. This segued into his latest book, Burning Man: Into a 21st Century Utopia, filled with visually stunning photographs of the people and environment. An homage to both festivals, Spinelli compares the uncanny similarities from the larger philosophies of its founders to the smaller details of ceremoniously burning an effigy under a late August full moon.

Although Burning Man ends by leaving with no trace of its existence, Spinelli hopes to push its values in everyday life. Even something as small as picking up MOOP (matter out of place) could do the trick.

To see more of Spinelli's Burning Man pictures, visit Frankspinelliphotography.com.

Speaking of...

  • The Electric Mess Rocks Woodstock
  • The Electric Mess Rocks Woodstock

    The New York garage punk band plays Colony on June 30.
    • Jun 22, 2017
  • Woodstock's Colony Makes a Comeback
  • Woodstock's Colony Makes a Comeback

    Spring is, of course, a time of great renewal. And perhaps for the Hudson Valley music scene this year's greatest spring-renewal story is the reopening of Woodstock's former Colony Cafe as, simply, Colony.
    • Jun 1, 2017
  • Recipe for Resilience
  • Recipe for Resilience

    A Historic House Gets a New Kitchen in Woodstock
    • Jun 1, 2017
  • More »
Pin It
Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Parting Shot: Lisa Durfee

    Lisa Durfee’s documentation of unnoticed parts of shabby chic Hudson currently being shown at the Hudson Opera House.
    • Feb 1, 2017
  • On The Cover: John Fallon

    "Performance: Paintings by John Fallon" are on exhibit through May 31 at Gillette's FRG Objects & Design/ Art gallery, on the second floor at 217 Warren Street in Hudson.
    • Apr 1, 2017

Hudson Valley Events

submit event
Summer Institute: Text and Context @ The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum

Summer Institute: Text and Context

Tue., June 27, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. — The Aldrich’s inaugural Summer Institute, Teaching and Learning through Contemporary Art and...

View all of today's events

Latest in Visual Art

  • Parting Shot: Melora Kuhn
  • Parting Shot: Melora Kuhn

    Brian K. Mahoney writes about Melora Kuhn's artwork.
    • Jun 1, 2017
  • Gardiner Art Crawl
  • Gardiner Art Crawl

    The crawl combines three Gardiner events over the course of the weekend of June 3 and June 4.
    • Jun 1, 2017
  • Fernández Vs. Church
  • Fernández Vs. Church

    "Overlook: Teresita Fernández Confronts Frederic Church at Olana" will remain at Olana, in Hudson, until November 5.
    • Jun 1, 2017
  • More »

Related to Visual Art

More by Zan Strumfeld

  • Hall of Change

    Classics on Hudson kicks off the grand opening of Hudson Hall.
    • May 1, 2017
  • On The Cover: Gabriel Garcia Roman

    "Visceral Notions" will feature work by Gabriel Garcia Roman through March 26 at the Center for Photography at Woodstock.
    • Mar 1, 2017
  • More »

Hudson Valley Tweets