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These Sandcastles Far Exceed Bucket-And-Shovel Standards

Out with Shark Week, in with feats of architecture in the sand. Here’s the bucket (and shovel) list for 2013.

Sharks are so last week. Time to move onto land for another late-summer rite: Creative Time’s annual Artist Sandcastle Competition at New York’s Rockaway Beach. The nonprofit arts organization’s event always ups the architectural standards of seaside building, inspiring entries that venture far beyond bucket-and-shovel standards. Ten teams led by artists shoveled and toiled on Friday from 2:00 p.m. until the 5:00 p.m. deadline. Judges included MoMA PS1 curator Klaus Biesenbach, artist and designer Waris Ahluwalia, and curator Dana Farouki, along with a pair of winners from 2012’s contest.

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The Bronze Shovel (what, you thought we’d start with the gold?) went to team Duke Riley for an epic version of White Castle, with minimalist turrets, horseshoe crab shell awnings, and sand cars parked in a lot. The work was sponsored by the burger chain itself, and the tradeoff for arguably casting a corporate shadow on an independent artists’ event was that reps handed out 101 burgers. Notably, this sculpture was the only literal castle among the entries. The crowd loves a classic, just like the crowd loves a free hamburger. Maybe a guest appearance by Harold and Kumar could’ve gotten the gold.

The Silver Shovel went to Venezuelan artist Esperanza Mayorbe for an absurdly convincing sculpture of a raft, with sand ropes tying sand logs together. Mayorbe said the piece was a comment on immigration.


The Gold Shovel went to Jamie Isenstein for her “Disappearing Sculptures.” Atop three sand pedestals she placed bubbles, a pile of ice, and a jorts-clad man playing George Michael on the saxophone. Her actual work with the medium wasn’t any more advanced than your average eight-year-old’s with a bucket and shovel. But its conceptual focus on ephemerality appealed to the high-minded judges. Isenstein took home a $500 check, a bucketful of tequila, and, of course, a gold-plated sand-digging utensil.

Other notable participants included team Ghost of a Dream, who frolicked around in gold lame unitards, and Christopher Robbins’s pancake-making machine, which mysteriously dispensed real pancakes.

[Photos by: Derek Schultz, Courtesy Creative Time.]

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About the author

Carey Dunne is a Brooklyn-based writer covering art and design. Follow her on Twitter.

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