Afterburn

Twelve hundred miles from Black Rock City, Apogaea keeps the home fires burning.

"Apogaea will never be as bling-bling as Burning Man," Mahoney adds. "You won't get the scale. But the feeling is the same. It's nice to let people know that if you can't get to Burning Man, it's okay. Just come here."


Scott Perlman had never been to Burning Man when he constructed his first art installation, "American Cheese," for Geodesica in 2003. He bedecked his campsite with Astroturf, pink flamingos and a white picket fence, kicked back and entertained visitors. For the next couple of days, Perlman connected with people from all over Colorado, each with their own creative project to share and talk about.

On fire: Travis Roberts displays his off-duty fire skills.
Anthony Camera
On fire: Travis Roberts displays his off-duty fire skills.
Art attack: Apogaea boardmembers Psylens 
(clockwise from left), Mayor McCheese, twister, 
e_Val, Johnny One-Spur, Ferret and Schmid-E.
Anthony Camera
Art attack: Apogaea boardmembers Psylens (clockwise from left), Mayor McCheese, twister, e_Val, Johnny One-Spur, Ferret and Schmid-E.

"It was wonderful and eye-opening and mind-blowing," says Perlman. "As a young person, I'd had that experience of being told you're either an artist or you're not, and I believed that," he says. "But suddenly there's this community where your creativity is validated, and it makes you want to explore it. After that weekend, I started going on every art bus there was, just throwing myself into this scene."

Perlman is an entrepreneur who worked as an investment banker for many years, but he never fit in with the business types he encountered in the working world. The Burners gave him a jolt, and a creative outlet: Last year, he presided over Apogaea as Mayor McCheese, mayor of Dome on the Range, a theme camp complete with Wild West storefronts, gun-totin' cowboys and a functional saloon. Dome on the Range hosted dance parties and shootouts and the aforementioned scrap between the Rangers and a group of wayward clowns from another camp.

Perlman spent fifteen to twenty hours a week for months working on Dome on the Range before Apogaea. And asked why he went to all the trouble, he gives a little cockeyed look.

"On a base level, to participate in something like this is an affirmation of who you are and things you believe in," he says. "After discovering this scene, I'd much rather hang out with someone who's artistic and creative than a community of people who are just interested in money.

"And," he adds, "it's just fun to play, like when you were a little kid. Burning Man people live in a creative zone. We can still play."

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