We are waiting with bated breath to hear all about your experiences in San Diego where you and Amazin' Walter worked on a world record sand sculpture attempt. Please fill us in on all the details!
- your fan
Okay, I never actually got that request but it is a heck of a lot more interesting than the letters I have been getting from y'all lately (yes, you may consider that a challenge) and if I get one more request for next February's weather forecast I will subject you to my whole life story in my next column (yes, you may consider that a threat.)
The entrance to the sculpture is guarded by 2 Winnebago-sized mer-lions. A weird, organic spaceship hovers in the distance, with a larger-than life sculpture of a hunky, anatomically correct Neptune poised on top a killer whale looming in the foreground. (In my opinion, that piece alone is worth the price of admission.) Further along the curbed path, a winged Egyptian Goddess meditates; a sea monster bursts through concrete slabs and a family of mutant mantarays climb the back face of the sculpture.... all carved entirely from sand and water on an impossibly large scale.
The theme is "The Lost City of Atlantis"; the vision is that of Gerry Kirk, one of the founding fathers of modern day professional sand sculpture. Our guidelines were nautical and mythological fantasy with an organic-spaceship twist - leaving a lot of room open for artistic expression. The project was 7 years in the planning and it all came together in late August of this year as some 100 sculptors from 20 countries gathered to carve the world's tallest and largest sand sculpture. The finished piece will house multiple restaurants and gathering spots (at least one wedding is scheduled to take place on the site, as well a a humungous Microsoft party hosted by Bill Gates himself) and will remain on display for the entire month of Sept.
Our group moved into and pretty much took over the Budget Inn in Mission Gorge (affectionately referred to as "The Boo-jay") which was conveniently located just around the corner from an Irish Pub - which we also pretty much took over. It was like Shaw Hall at MSU all over again except the other residents - many of whom were Europeans experiencing their first visit to the States - were all incredibly artistic and primed to have a great time. That old sand carver maxim "Party Carve Party" was definitely in play and while it wasn't easy keeping up with this group of young, vivacious sculptors, I like to think I represented my state and my town well on all counts. (The bartender at the Irish Pub won't soon forget how to concoct a "sandy foot" - 2 or 3 of them will definitely kick you in the you know what - and the electronic dart board there is probably still smoking from the last drubbing I gave it.)
On the sandpile we divided into teams to conquer the forms of stacked sand we had pounded up in the first days of the project. I joined up with a fun group of Ohio firemen/sand sculptors I had worked with in Atlantic City last June -- though I also was able to complete a few smaller pieces (fanciful space shuttle-like structures) on my own. I was filmed by the local media carving on a monstrous dome (under a stategically-placed SPI flag) that later evolved into a completed castle connected by tendon-like structures to the back of a giant mantaray. What fun!
In the meantime, SPI's own Amazin' Walter was working with another group on the right face creating a pod of life-size dolphins swimming down the side of the sculpture - one of the strongest features on the site. He later moved up to the dome where he concocted this weird sort of exhaust valve for the spaceship. He was asked to extend his say and is still toiling away on the sculpture face as I write this.
I never did get a chance to see the famous San Diego Zoo, but we did get treated to a tailgate party, excellent seats at a Padres game and the bar-none best fireworks exhibition I have ever seen. The party at the Boo-jay was ongoing and included spontaneous temporary tattoo, balloon hat and drumming parties. In the process, I managed to pick up a few Dutch words and phrases that I hope I can hang onto long enough to impress the next Hollander I encounter.
It was truly an honor to be invited to participate in this project and I would rate it as one of the most incredible experiences of my life. My goal is to try to recapture some of the thrill of working with (as opposed to competing against) the best of the best right here on SPI with a post-sand Castle Days 24-hour group build starting at midnight Mon., Oct. 19 on the beach in front of the Surf Motel, SPI. All serious sand sculptors are invited to participate and spectators are welcome - stay tuned for more details as they develop.
For the latest info on SPI Sand Castle Days and the SPI group carve, log in to the official Sand Castle Days site at http://spionline.com/scdays/
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