Artist Spotlight: Sandy Architecture by Calvin Seibert

If you don’t make it to the beach, then does your summer really count? Sure, there are plenty of other summery things to do…sipping margaritas, seeing live music outside, consuming copious amounts of ice cream and keeping your arms stuck to your side while moving like a robot after you embarrassingly realize that you have **very** visible pit stains. Ah, ‘tis the season!

But if we’re being honest, we all know that … the beach trumps all. However, this season…the beach has me a little on edge. Now, if I were being honest, the beach always has me feeling like I need to take Xanax and breathe into a paper bag. When I first get there, it is always fun and games…and then something touches my leg. I don’t know why it is always such a surprise…I mean logically I know there are things in the ocean… but to me anything that touches my leg is a shark. Hands down. No questions asked. Usually, whoever is accompanying me on my beach escapades gets visibly annoyed by the third time I make them run with me back to shore.

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With all of the shark attacks this season, I’m not sure I could even convince myself to go ankle-deep in the ocean. Boogie boarding is just not quite as enjoyable when you have the Jaws theme song looping in your head and you are REALLY trying to force the fun since you are certain imminent death is coming with the next wave. Just saying…

That being said, I have recently turned my attention to beachier, sandier and certainly safer activities. At the top of the list? Sand castle building! And while my sandcastles end up looking more like lumps of dog poo than grainy housing, others have more luck. Specifically, Calvin Seibert, dubbed the “Master of Sand”.

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Seibert is the son of Pete Seibert, ski champion who helped lead construction efforts in the town of Vail, Colorado. Needless to say, he grew up in the shadows of influential architecture and has since made his way using his own interpretations. In present day, Siebert is a trained artist residing in New York City. His medium isn’t oils, watercolors, pastels or graphite – it’s sand.

During the prime season for sand wrangling, Seibert spends roughly 8-10 hours a day, 4-5 days out of the week crafting swoon-worthy sandcastles on the beach. He frequents the beaches around New York, including Fort Tilden, Jones Beach and Coney Island. And after they are built on the beach, that is where his works remain.

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Seibert has little interest in showing them in a gallery, saying:

“It’s important that they’re at the beach. A sand castle is ephemeral. There is a thing on the horizon that’s going to destroy it. That’s what makes it powerful and interesting.”

His style ranges to include almost everything – classic, cubism, brutalism, mid-eastern, abstract mosaic…the list could go on. Speaking further on the fact of sandcastles relatively short life spans, Seibert says:

“Building sandcastles is a bit of a test. Nature will always be against you and time is always running out. Having to think fast and bring it all together in the end is what I like about it.”

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Unlike some other artists, Seibert definitely likes to figure things out as he goes along. He tends to start with an idea and nothing more, and once he is sculpting he lets the art lead him where it may…

Nature can’t be the only thing putting a time limit on Seibert’s masterpieces, though. We all know that sandcastles only last so long before a passerby can’t resist a good stomping/jumping/demolishing action. That’s just the way of the world. Seibert’s thoughts?

“I get a different reaction with different groups of people. At Fort Tilden, hipsters will take an Instagram and keep on walking. On Coney, I recently had a group of kids who came up and wanted to jump on it. I said ‘Hold on! Let me get my camera first!’”

Not to worry – all of the artist’s work is immortalized on his website. Sand isn’t the only medium that Seibert likes to play with. When it isn’t prime beach weather the artist meddles with drawing, and discarded cardboard sculptures. He has even had work exhibited in some NYC galleries.

Elaborate sandcastles seem like the ultimate way to celebrate summer without the risk of losing the limb, do they not? And while I’m sure Malibu Barbie would love to camp out in one of Siebert’s creations, I’m secretly hoping that at some point he will take his crab-sized architecture to the next level. I call dibs!

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