Amusing Monday: Festivals as fleeting as sand

Master sand sculptors from throughout the world have been stretching their imaginations this year at various sand-sculpting festivals where they’ve been putting their unique abilities on display.

“Inseminate” by Guy-Olivier Deveau of Quebec City, Canada, first place in the Master Sand Sculpting Competition in Hampton Beach, N.H. Photo courtesy of Hampton Beach
“Inseminate” by Guy-Olivier Deveau of Quebec City, first place in the Master Sand Sculpting Competition in Hampton Beach, N.H.
Photo courtesy of Hampton Beach Village District

In June, the 14th annual Master Sand Sculpting Competition in Hampton Beach, N.H., brought together a dozen amazing artists, including first-place winner Guy-Olivier Deveau from Quebec City, Canada. Deveau’s sculpture “Inseminate” (shown here) was done as a tribute to the recently deceased Swiss artist H.R. Giger, who helped create the creature in the movie “Alien,” according to festival organizers.

I am both amused and inspired by Carl Jara’s piece, “Putting Down Roots,” which depicts a friendly embrace between man and nature (second photo on this page). Jara, of Cleveland, Ohio, continues to impress me with his imaginary figures.

“Putting Down Roots” by Carl Jara of Cleveland, Ohio, third place Photo courtesy of Hampton Beach
“Putting Down Roots” by Carl Jara of Cleveland, Ohio, third place
Photo courtesy of Hampton Beach Village District

Tacoma’s Sue McGrew participated in Hampton Beach, creating a thoughtful piece she called “Mother’s Protection” (third on this page). For a full gallery of photos of the sand sculptures, visit the Hampton Beach visitors page or the Flickr page created for the event.

“Putting Down Roots” by Carl Jara of Cleveland, Ohio, third place Photo courtesy of Hampton Beach
“Mother’s Protection” by Sue McGrew of Tacoma
Photo courtesy of Hampton Beach Village District

I am sorry to learn that the Arts in Action festival held in Port Angeles for nearly a half-century will come to an end after this year’s event, Sept. 5-7.

The folks running the Port Angeles festival were no longer able to continue, and nobody stepped up to take it over, according to Doc Reiss, sand sculpture organizer.

“Forty-nine years is a good, long run,” Reiss told reporter Arwyn Rice of the Peninsula Daily News, who tells the history of the sand-sculpture competition and the decision to end it this year.

McGrew and Sandis Kondrats of Latvia will creates tribute sculptures this year in Port Angeles to recognize 10 years of master-level sand sculpting in the remote city on the Olympic Peninsula. I have been pleased to report on the event as an “Amusing Monday” feature since 2009:

Master-level sand sculpting also has come and gone from Federal Way, which just goes to show that these festivals are as ephemeral as the sand sculptures themselves.

In 2011, amateur photographer Flint Weiss of Maple Valley shot the Federal Way sculptures, then he told me why he loved them but was worried about their future. His words turned out to be prophetic:

“I do feel that art is enriching and that everybody is capable of producing some,” he wrote in an e-mail. “One of the things I like about sand sculpture is how solid and crisp everything looks, when it is really only made from sand.

“That makes sculptures like these feel somewhat improbable, making them all the more impressive. I also really enjoy the sheer artistry involved. While it’s easy for me (or any of us) to take a trowel to a pile of sand, it never looks anything like what these folks do.

“It’s sad,” he continued, “that this contest doesn’t get the public support it deserves. Given how much Western Washington loves both art and craftsmanship, it’s kind of surprising that the contest isn’t more popular.”

After three years in Federal Way, the World Championship of Sand Sculptures moved on to Atlantic City, N.J., as I reported in “Water Ways”:

Check out this year’s Atlantic City entries in a slide show created by Jordan Herelle.

In other areas, “Boston” magazine” covered the 2014 Revere Beach National Sand Sculpting Festival, which featured the theme “Stars and Stripes: A Tribute to Our Nation’s Armed Forces” to coincide with the 70th anniversary of D-Day. (Don’t miss the extended slide show at the bottom of the page.)

“My SA” in San Antonio covered the Texas SandFest in Port Aransas. See also Tim Burdick’s photos of the event.

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