Art on the Beach!
Looks like Rome was built in a day! A sand-castle Colosseum, created by a team led by Marie Lorenz, was one of the entries in the festive artists’ sand-castle competition staged by last Friday by the public-art organization Creative Time, in collaboration with Grey Area.
By mid-afternoon, a parade of artists bearing bizarre materials had materialized on Beach 86th Street, intriguing passersby as they began digging holes, building piles, burying their colleagues, and tenderly sculpting the beach’s distinctive dusty grains of sand into ambitious, elaborate, and often whimsical concoctions that celebrated this venerable vernacular tradition. I was among the judges who faced the challenge of awarding prizes to the most impressive entries.
We gave top honors to Jen Catron & Paul Outlaw for their Fountain. This castle was a whimsical structure on which the artists’ team posed with a neo-vaudeville flourish, spouting Poland Spring water from their mouths in a deadpan manner that recalled everyone’s favorite Baroque sculptures (with a sly wink to Bruce Nauman’s sly wink to modernism’s most famous Fountain, by Duchamp).
Second went to William Lamson for a huge, flawless cone, a kind of grown-up version of those rickety turrets kids make with plastic cups—though the artist noted that his inspiration also came from the elegant post-Minimalist forms of Japanese Mono-ha.
And third went to Jen DeNike for Castles in the Sand, a female form that seems to spring out of a dream (and a Hendrix song) onto the sand, reaching for an elusive structure destined to fall into the sea.
There were a lot of other striking pieces, including Tom Sachs’ dig to almost-China and Ricci Albenda’s pyramidlike wall with a slight Ozymandias complex.
By now, all of the sculptures have been blown away, trampled by dogs, and reconstituted by seagulls. But I wouldn’t be surprised if their influence lingers in the air. Look for their echoes on the shore—and for the next round of entries next year!
Photo: Mista Oh!