|Stylized California highway marker (mission bell and |
shepherd’s crook). Its real-life counterparts can be
found along US 101 between Los Angeles and San Jose.
Some show up after dark with six-packs of beer and stay until late. Others, sometimes the homeless, stay the whole night.
Tidewrack shack with seaweed. A variation of the
Paleo-Survivalist style emphasizing Spanish moss
over seaweed is common along the southeastern
Beach creations come in various shapes and sizes. Lean-tos, burners, tepees, A-frames, dugouts, pillboxes, circulars, and wind breaks are among the most common. Some aren’t so much structures as sand art incorporating driftwood, rocks, seashells, and feathers.
“Welcome” sign, Nazca-like lines, cairns, bird’s
beak totem with kelp. It seemed like the hip
beginning of something – maybe a trendy motel.
Oh, the beach, the beach.
In some cultures, driftwood has been viewed as a sort of fundamental element, like earth, air, fire, and water. According to Norse mythology, Ask and Embla, the first human couple, were made from driftwood by Odin (god of a litany of things) and his brothers, Vili and Vé. The Vikings had the habit of throwing wood into the sea before making landfall, then building their mead halls wherever the wood washed up. Perhaps they figured if you fell in the drink while drunk, you’d drift to shore like the jettisoned wood, not out to sea and be sunk.
A recent book, Driftwood Forts of the Oregon Coast by James Herman, waxes philosophical about all this. “Something deep and dark runs through the forts here [north jetty of the Siuslaw River],” he says. “It’s not a bad thing…The forts are smoky and talk to you, even if you aren’t listening.” Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, so maybe Herman is on to something even it’s coming from smoke signals.
Flotsam’s many forms: Installation by Zoe Leonard (Whitney Museum of American Art, March-June, 2018, New York) reimagined for the beach. At first glance through the gallery doorway during your visit to this display, you might have meet with a little confusion – misread the installation and its uniformed guard as the queued-up, secured luggage of an actual tour group. For a brief moment you might have hesitated to go in. What on earth was a baggage room doing amidst an enfilade of galleries? And how come none of the suitcases had wheels or retractable handles? So many questions, so few answers. Yet one answer may wash up on the beach. For works of this ilk, it seems to me, are ideally suited to the beach. The rich offset of the shoreline, for example, would highlight the suitcases in ways not possible in an expressionless and otherwise vacant (except for a few wall-mounted photos) gallery. Ocean swells would bring to bear the timeless forces that ceaselessly work and re-work the wrack line, lending a certain dynamic. Slick with Vanicream®, visitors sporting Oakleys® and Tevas® would queue up galore for a glimpse of the plein air spectacle, especially during high water. And, yes, there’d be spare suitcases aplenty – where these came from. Just in case.
“Standing Supplicants” (mixed media), 2017. This installation could be
a museum piece, beach and all.
“Sticklers for a lineup” (seawater, wood on sand), 2018
Atrophy & Hypertrophy, demiurges of the primal flood. And Pericles!
At Hendry’s Beach, wooden park benches feature cast bronze memorials –
a semblance of permanence aloof from the tides but also a reminder of the
|My Little Grass Schack|