Sand Art

The last few weeks have been an odd mix of work and play for me.

On the one hand, I’ve been hard at work on a project that I’ll share here in the near future.

On the other hand, I’ve also been somewhat obsessed with sand sculptures.

This is because one of my favorite ways to take a break is to go for a walk on my nearest beach, and that happens to be a place called Revere Beach.

Here are some links to where you can find out about why Revere Beach is special.
How Revere Beach Became America’s First Public Beach (Edgar B. Herwick III, WGBH)
Boston’s Revere Beach: The Complete Guide (Kathryn Cirrone, Trip Savvy)

The beach is actually fairly deserted most of the time — there’s often just myself and a handful of other “beach people” walking or just soaking up some sun.

Here’s a 360° picture that I took which shows what it usually looks like there.

However, things got a lot busier the second half of July because the annual Revere Beach International Sand Sculpting Festival ran from July 26th to July 28th, but the setup and sand delivery actually started happening a week before.

Here’s a video from CBS Boston’s WBZ 4 about the festival that was shot on July 26th.

Of course, it’s fun to watch the festivities, and it’s almost impossible to refrain from taking snapshots when something like this happens on your home turf.

Here’s a short slide show of some shots that I took of the festival.

Here are my pictures of my favorite sculptures. Click the gallery for a slide show.

Normally I would have stopped there, but then I got an idea for a project stuck in my head that then took on a life of its own.

You see, as much as I love watching the festival unfold, it also strikes me as bittersweet. It is at the height of summer when preparations start in mid-July, but then the sculptures stay on display for weeks and slowly melt until bulldozers come and wipe them away in mid-August.

To me, the sculptures serve as sort of a metaphor for the short, sweet existence of summer. When they are being built and displayed, summer is in its full glory. Then the crowds leave, the sculptures deteriorate, and by the time they are gone, summer is almost gone too. Schools are starting, Halloween decorations are in stores, and the only thing anyone talks about is Fall.

So, I became obsessed with instantiating this perspective in time-lapses of the sculptures.

For example, here’s a slideshow with photos that I took to create a time-lapse of this year’s Center Sculpture showing its full life cycle from before it was born until it’s demise.

Here are time-lapses of just some of my other favorite sculptures.

There are some more time-lapse videos like these on a longer version of this post that I did for my personal blog From Sand to Sand.

Now, if you’re like me, you think of all of this as being about sandcastles, even though there were no “real” sandcastles this year — the closest thing was the sculpture of Notre Dame.

I admit to being just a tad disappointed that no one decided to build a sandcastle of some sort, even though it probably would have been judged as trite if they did.

That’s why I felt a bit of joy when further down the beach I saw a gentleman building a small, honest-to-goodness sandcastle.

It turns out that he was doing it to promote a cute little product called Create A Castle. Here’s a video about their kit, and there a number of others on their YouTube Channel.

While I was poking around for information about Create a Castle and other related resources for this project, it really dawned on me that building things with sand, or sand art and play as Wikipedia calls it, has evolved from a child’s activity into an industry.

For example, a gentleman named Andy Hancock offers Sandcastle Building Lessons on South Padre Island in Texas. Here’s just one of the videos from his YouTube Channel.

There’s even a World Sand Sculpting Academy (World of Sand Art).

Who knew, right?

Then, of course, Revere Beach isn’t the only place that hosts sand festivals and competitions — there are a ton of them around the country and the world.
The 10 Best Sandcastle Competitions in America (Kim Windyka Kim Windyka, Fodors)
Sand festivals (wikipedia)

For example, just this weekend the 29th Annual Sand Sculpting Competition took place at Coney Island. This caught my eye because on Friday and Saturday, offered guests the chance to stay in a sandcastle they dubbed the Sand-sion next to Coney Island’s Luna Park.

Giant Coney Island sandcastle offers sleepovers this weekend (Summer Delaney, WPIX)

Fun stuff!

Now that I’ve gotten documenting and sharing the demise of sand structures, I need to get back to work on that project that I’m preparing to release soon.

That doesn’t mean that I won’t be taking a few breaks to visit the beach, though.

Here’s the thing. Summer doesn’t officially end until the Autumnal Equinox on September 23rd. It may be on the wane, but there are still weeks left. Don’t let it go before its time. There is still plenty of time to enjoy some good old traditional warm weather activities like cookouts and visits to the beach.

I intend to do that, and I hope you will too 🙂

Happy Summer, Still!

Find out more about sandcastles and beaches