Wednesday, May 23, 2018

sand sculpture 2018 part three

Saturday night's fun and the end of the week had everyone amped up.  I still heard Jarecki's voice and laughter outside my door after midnight.  I could hear the room beside me laughing too. My 46 year old butt was tired and it hurt a little to set that 5:30am alarm.

 But man, what a reward.  

 For the last beach run it was BOLT! and Gazelle, of course.  These two.  So committed.  I'm so impressed by their dedication.

 We ran down to the point again and there was even more beach this time.  I think these were snowy egrets.

 The light was beautiful.  The clouds and water just made everything absolutely perfect.  I took so many photos.

 So many photos.

 So many photos.

 A cool reflection photo of BOLT!

A cool reflection photo of Gazelle.

An even better reflection photo of me taken by Gazelle.

 The view back up the beach.

 For everyone who scoffed at the idea of getting up so early, here's what you missed.  Totally worth it.

 After a pretty extended break we were a few shells richer and our feet were very sloshy.  But we headed back to the hotel taking in the beauty of the sky and the beauty of the week as we ran.

After coffee and showers we joined the group loading up the vehicles for the drive home.  We made a stop at Flapjacks for breakfast in Garden City before driving to Bishopville, SC, home of Pearl Fryar.


 Pearl is a world famous topiary artist.  Or as he prefers to put it, "I cut bushes."  He's been cutting those bushes for 38 years now in his quiet neighborhood.

 He's visited weekly by people from around the world and he has a movie that was made about him.

 The work he does is really amazing and it's wonderful to have him living and working in our home state.

 We were lucky enough to catch him at home on a Sunday after church and he came out to talk to us.

 He has a great demeanor and he was a captivating speaker.  

 My students listened carefully as he gave advice about school, art and even marriage.

 The connection with sand sculpture is that Pearl has devoted his life to creating and sharing art that makes people happy.  His message of Love, Peace and Goodwill is intended to allow viewers to leave better than they arrived.  As I've practiced sand sculpture for the last 10 years that's also the major goal I've had.  People are walking the beach or lying in the sun and they are surprised by this sand creation.  It makes them smile and brightens their day.  When people look at something you've made and they walk away smiling and happier than they were before, that's about the best thing you could do as an artist.  This is a message I wanted my students to get.

 It was great to be there in his yard.  I first learned about Pearl from Tom Stanley at Winthrop about 25 or so years ago.  I've seen video clips and tons of photos but I'd never stood inside the topiary garden until last Sunday.  

 Forgive me for being a little bit out of uniform.  Pearl was wearing the international sculptor's uniform, jeans and a white t-shirt.  

 These "sailing ship" topiaries were elegant and stunning.

 Even the smallest plants were interesting.

 There's not a boring plant in his entire yard.

 This one was probably my favorite.  The little negative space there on the far right was perfect.  This was just half of an arched entryway.

 The fishbone tree.

 I'm so tempted to get my clippers out and start carving on the hedges.

 But I know I don't have the patience it takes to literally grow a sculpture.  Pearl talked to my students about the three things they needed to have success.  Hard work, passion and marketing.  It's easy to see the hard work involved here.  Still to this day he works every single day in his garden.  Every day for 38 years on his masterpiece.

 You can learn more about Pearl at  His film is called "A Man Named Pearl"

 I loved MC Escher way too much as a kid to not take this photo.

I got to talk a little welding and work ethic with Pearl before we thanked him and loaded up one last time.  This is where the art convoy broke up and my truck headed toward Laurens.

Grace's home is not far off the interstate before you get to my house.  Grace isn't fond of silence and at one point in her talking she told us about he great uncle's ice cream shop in downtown Newberry.  I hadn't realized we skipped lunch but ice cream sounded good to everyone in the truck so we got a small tour of town before pulling into the ice cream parking lot.  We enjoyed some ice cream and this purple building across the street before dropping Grace at her sister's.  

Minutes later I was home.

A few years ago this Sand Sculpture class was just a funny idea.  The art department faculty supported it and so did the university.  I'm am forever thankful for this support.  Sandy Singletary is super smart about trips and she knows all the ways to make a trip like this work.  Without her help, I'd be traveling alone and there would be no class.  She handles every detail of the trip that involves money and she does it better than anyone else.  I think we were up about $.50 in the budget by the time we returned and that's amazing.  If you went on this trip, you should send Singletary a note of thanks.  We also had the good fortune of having Haley come along to document the sand sculptures and all the group photos with a real camera.  This was a big help and we are all thankful for her as well.  Also, go stay at The Litchfield Inn.  Tell them you heard about them from us.  It will help keep our costs low.

And the students.  Once again we had a great group of people sign up for this class.  7 of the 16 students were freshmen which blows my mind.  3 of the students were second timers.  All of them were well behaved and they all followed our one rule.  Don't ask.

A few things we don't want to forget:

There was a guy at Brookgreen with the tiniest handlebar mustache.  It was like someone was playing a prank on us.  The whole thing from one curled end to the other barely stuck out beyond his nostrils.  It was hilarious.  And then he talked to me.  Remember the scene in Austin Powers when he's talking to the guy with the mole?  That was me talking to mustache guy.

At the edge of the sculpture garden at Brookgreen there was a chain blocking off a trail through the swamp.  The chain was down.  We went in.  It was a long buggy walk that took us to the river.  We thought we might die a few times.  We survived.

Minutes before closing time at the Chick-fil-a, Seth and I dashed in to order milkshakes.  While we were paying one of the very polite employees quickly turned a corner behind the counter, slipped and fell in a very dramatic fashion.  Seth and I watched as every single one of the very kind, very polite employees cackled and horse-laughed the guy on the floor.  It was wonderful.

Remember the lady with the dogs that night by the pool?  She asked so many questions and was kinda loud.  The very next morning at Huntington she walked right between our vehicles while we were paying.  She stopped again and talked to us.  She worked there and it was her 3rd day on the job.  It was weirdly coincidental.

BHP is not Hawaiian.  Not even close.  He's of Hispanic descent and speaks fluent Spanish.  Every second person on this trip asked him if he was Hawaiian.  In their defense, he does have a Hawaiian shirt from Goodwill.  Just minutes before we roasted him with his Hawaiian award that I can't tell you about, a cashier asked him if he was Hawaiian.  It was too perfect.

Armir is like a big brother to the students and like an unpaid intern to me.  He was a calming presence among the students.  On one of the rainy days while everyone hid under the shelter he distracted everyone from their misery by asking them thoughtful questions like "what superpower would you choose to have" or "who in history would you have dinner/coffee with".  Several of the students talked about how fun this was and though Seth and I missed it, Armir let us have a turn at dinner that night.  We got to answer and explain our answers and he made everyone else at the table answer again so we could hear it.  Moments like that we will not soon forget.  

And...I got to surf.  It was so great.  I love this class.  I guess I'll do it again next year.

*also, Singletary fussed at me for not putting part three up fast enough.  Happy now?

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