Who is Duane Flatmo?

A little bit about the man behind the machine(s)

Duane Flatmo is a renowned artist celebrated for his eclectic creativity, boundless imagination and found object scuplures. Born in Santa Monica and moved to Northern California, Flatmo's artistic journey reflects a profound connection to the vibrant culture of the West Coast.

Flatmo's artistic exploration began at an early age, fueled by a diverse range of influences, including street art, comic books and the dynamic music scene of the 1960s and 70s.

Throughout his career, Flatmo has established himself as a multi-disciplinary artist, equally adept in painting, sculpture and multimedia. His work often blurs the boundaries between traditional and contemporary art forms, inviting viewers to engage with unexpected narratives and visual experiences.

One of Flatmo's most iconic creations is El Pulpo Mecanico, a spectacular fire-breathing mechanical octopus that has captivated audiences at festivals like Burning Man and events around the world. Both El Pulpo sculptures embody Flatmo's passion for innovation, spectacle and a dazzling display of visions come to life.

In addition to his large-scale kinetic sculptures, Flatmo's paintings and drawings reveal a rich tapestry of imagery, blending surrealism, pop culture and whimsical storytelling. His distinctive style is characterized by bold colors, intricate details and a sense of playful irreverence that invites viewers in.

With a career spanning decades, Duane continues to push new ideas with artistic expression, by challenging conventions and inviting audiences to participate with his art.

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El Pulpo Mecanico

The First Try

El Pulpo Mecanico emerged from Arcata, California, in the redwood filled expanse of Humboldt County. Crafted by the mind and hands of Duane Flatmo and his compatriot Jerry Kunkel, El Pulpo Mecanico blends artistry, plumbing and brute force construction.

A fusion of imagination and engineering, El Pulpo dances to the rhythm of its own flames. With a giant cam at its heart, the tentacles undulate and eyes dart, while flames dance from its very fingertips, casting an otherworldly glow.

In a nod to sustainability, the sculpture arose from the bones of discarded treasures, scavenged from the depths of Arcata Scrap and Salvage, where Bonnie Connor's generosity has opened the doors for creativity for years!

The journey began with a 1973 Ford 250 4x4, graciously donated by Jack Freeman of Eureka. With over three and a half months of dedication and toil from friends like Bob Thompson, Greg Ester, Brian Slayton, Carl Mueller and Lucas Thornton, El Pulpo came to life.

At Burning Man, El Pulpo mesmerized onlookers with a symphony of fire and motion. Each night, 200 gallons of propane fueled its fiery dance, illuminating the playa with an enchanting glow that stretched to the dark reaches of the trash fence.

Gallery The Store
   Photo by Scott London

El Pulpo Magnifico

The King of Kings

El Pulpo Magnifico stands tall at 28 feet, a colossal octopus wrought from the remnants of discarded metal and aluminum, lovingly repurposed by Duane Flatmo, Jerry Kunkel, Will Startare and his dedicated crew in the bustling heart of Eureka, California.

Its gleaming skin, fashioned from the reflections of kitchenware and treasures unearthed from thrift store scores, glimmers like an explosion of diamonds against the dark night sky of the playa.

Eight sinuous tentacles undulate in a hypnotic rhythm and eight eyes peer into the very soul of onlookers, El Pulpo Magnifico unleashes its fiery breath, sending flames soaring 30 feet into the heavens above. It's a spectacle that conjures the imagery of a demented wind-up toy brought to life by a puppeteer with a love for glits and fire.

Equipped with a panel of control buttons, El Pulpo dances to the beat of its own fiery heart. Turning each performance into a visual symphony of fire and motion.

With 200 gallons of propane coursing through its veins, El Pulpo Magnifico chases away the chill of cold evenings, enveloping all who dare to behold its magnificence in a warm embrace of wonder and awe.

Gallery The Store