A municipal art challenge

[A little jag here from the traditional discussion of local politics. We would like you to comment on this topic for a bit. We will continue onto the more traditional topics tomorrow, and you can continue ranting there.]

Take a look at these sculptures.

And here are links to many more.

These are all pretty fantastic, no?

Some are scary/disturbing in the nightmare sense, but few would deny that the effort and expertise in them is beautiful and inspiring.

Oh and by the way, when these sand sculptures are produced, how many of them are “modern” art? How many do you see here that are giant triangles or squares laced together to represent “”man’s drive towards disgruntlism” or some such?

Zero? Or if that IS what they represent, that is almost secondary to the beauty and skill of the craft.

And here’s another question: How much were these artists paid for their work?

Less than zero more likely — they probably had to pay for their own equipment and everything else.

Our guess is that this is a hobby. Oh maybe there was a prize at the end, but not everyone could get the prize.

And maybe for a few these huge projects, there was cash that went into it. But in general, we have a guess that the artists themselves were not paid.

The point being, How much better are these sculptures than some that we see out and about? Better than the “art” for which we often pay thousands and thousands of dollars?

If your city had sculptures like this spread around the public places — a lot of these, not just few — it would be a much more beautiful place, no? Much more interesting? More inspiring? With part of the gist being that if you’re really not into one of the sculptures, there are a bunch of others for your choice of “favorite”.

Hey how many Facebook posts did we see with people standing next to the giant swimmer’s head at Mutual of Omaha?

Just throwing out the concept. And so here are the next questions:

  • Can large sculptures like this be done more cheaply than the traditional bronze or marble or whatever expensive traditional mediums?
  • Can a sand artist convert their art to easily to a medium that is not nearly as expensive?
  • Can such art be potentially created at a much cheaper price — and maybe not be 100 years permanent? Maybe 10 or 20 or 30 years before it has to be replaced with something else that is equally beautiful?

Look, we are no experts of the industry here. This is really just an idea. But think potentially if large-ish sculpture that actually looked like something were ubiquitous around your city. Would that not improve the general area? (Oh, and btw, we aren’t talking about John Doe art — no offense.)

We have no doubt that there are plenty reading this who will tell us that it can’t be done within a reasonable budget. In this day and age we sort of doubt that. And there are always budget issues for city beautification, and this is something that could be a challenge.

So, challenge put out.

Could YOUR city be a region leader on something like this?
A country leader?
(A world leader?)

Could your city be a major innovator in that sort of concept? (Could it potentially bring in lots of revenue?)

We don’t know.
But what we do know is that there are artists out there who do beautiful work, for nothing, and the rain is washing their stuff away.

And they come back the next weekend and do it again.

It would be nice to have some of that still around.


  1. Anonymous says:

    We would all be far better off if we all competed with one another over who could produce the most interesting and appealing art than we are by competing over who can create the most efficient means of killing one another.

  2. Anonymous says:

    With what’s happening today the only thing going on is destruction. It started with Obama and now the radical Muslim world……build sand art if you like but the future won’t be made better because of it.

  3. Lil Mac says:

    Thank you Sweeper for the respite. Obama is in a race to see which he can destroy first, the Democratic Party or America. It is enough to make a patriot weep.

  4. Sand Art Insider says:

    Hi I’m Chris Scott, Sand Art Insider. I have assembled the greatest names of Sand Art in Omaha. Even though I have never made a sand sculpture, that does not mean I am not an Insider. Did you know Jon Tucker once dabbled in collages? He is an insider too!!! Also, did you hear me on the radio???? Did you??? Only credible Insiders are on the radio!!!! Just ask Crash, he is an Insider. If you didn’t hear me on the radio, check out the podcast!!!

  5. Anonymous says:

    What a bunch of delusional idiots! You can’t even look at something unique and beautiful without injecting your poisonous politics into it. Losers!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Point well taken, Sweeper. We don’t need NEA grants for creativity to exist. Art doesn’t need to be subsidized. We don’t need welfare art in this country, or welfare artists. (Of course, perhaps we subsidized those sand sculptures by not charging the sand artists a fee to use public sand when we could have charged such a fee, in which case we’ve evidently subsidized that sand art thus making those sand artists welfare artists.)

  7. Anonymostly says:

    Loser at 12:20, don’t blame us if you’re not capable of mult-tasking. We can look at the photos of the sand sculptures and enjoy the art WHILE AT THE SAME TIME discussing some of the political angles.

    Besides, you’re naive as well as stupid and a loser if you think art is always created in an apolitical vacuum. A lot of times, artists attempt to convey a political message through whatever medium they happen to be working with.

    You should follow the wisdom that it’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth (or hit the “send” key) and remove all doubt.

  8. tom says:

    Last three posts by same user, putting on a show for rest of us.

    Also, get used to making castles made of sand–atomic warfare will turn all our skyscrapers to sand and glass.

    Now,with my jokes out of the way, I’m saying I like this post, and very much appreciate risking the effort and offering commentary on sculptures. I am especially sensitive to public art in other cities, and I always react the same: “Man, I wish Omaha did more stuff like this” and then “maybe I should try writing letters, a petition,” or whatever. But I can’t be the only one who thinks this way, can I?

    I like the idea of temporary sculptures. Imagine J. Doe sculptures with 80-yr half-lives, giving these folks a lifespan. Or a giant nude statue made of wood and dirt, filled with seeds that grow the beard and the bush. Awesome, innovative + cheaper because I always try to find a good deal on my public sculptures!

    Who else has some ideas?

  9. Anonymostly says:

    Sorry, Tom, “Last three posts by same user, putting on a show for rest of us” — just another fail on your part. I did NOT post the post at 12:20 to which I was responding but it’s interesting how quickly you jump to the conclusion that I did. I find it’s usually the people who are quickest to accuse others of doing something who are most likely guilty of it themselves. So, how many times have you posted on this blog and how many of those were under the name “Tom”? BTW, I’m not prepared to believe your answer.

  10. Macdaddy says:

    Sweeper, I don’t know the answers to most of your questions, but as to the art bringing in revenue, I rather doubt it. We’ve had those big O things around the city for several years now. Don’t think anybody drove in to see them. Has anybody specifically gone to see the Sounding Stones? Nope. Maybe if you had an outdoor sculpture park, you’d be on to something, but that would still be iffy as a tourist draw. It would need to be critically acclaimed. That eliminates the lady milking a cow. I think most cities that have huge sculptures, the art augments other tourist attractions.

  11. Anonymous says:

    So the daily Kos said the following: NE-Sen (Likely R to Safe R): When a former senator tries to reclaim his old Senate seat, ordinarily that alone ought to be enough to secure a competitive rating for the race. But this situation isn’t ordinary. Democrat Bob Kerrey’s been out of office (and living in New York City for so long), and his nominal home state of Nebraska has just become implacably red. It’s not like Republican Deb Fischer is any great shakes, and yeah, there hasn’t been any polling here in a while, but that also says something—namely, that no one thinks this contest is interesting enough to poll. To the extent there’s still any outside money coming in, it’s probably just enough so that national Democrats can say, “See? We keep our promises to our top recruits.” But we just don’t see any kind of potential path to victory for Kerrey, so we’re ready to face the inevitable and chalk this one up as a gain for the GOP.

  12. Gambling with the Good Life says:

    Good post here. Even better if the idea pitted one artist against another in a sand castle contest to see who could complete their sand art first. We could take bets, charge entry fees, tax the display for every day it’s on display. We could tax the sand, the shovels, the people watching the guys carving out the sand. Man this could really be the answer we’re looking for to pay for that sewer retrofit project! Let’s do this! Hey Suttle, where you at man!??

  13. Anonymous says:

    I am shocked! (well, not really) that Chris Scott would be using the emails listed for the county convention delegates to solicite traffic to his ‘blog’

  14. Ethical ? says:

    Is that ethical to use personal information from the County Convention participants to promote a personal pursuit. I think it’s questionable.

  15. Ethical ? says:

    It is telling when you’re more concerned about ‘monikers’ than the ethics of using the personal information from the Douglas County Convention participants for a personal pursuit.

    Chris Scott and you seem to have a shifted view of what is appropriate and innappropriate.

  16. Macdaddy says:

    Sweeper, then the answers to your questions are easy: just print it out on a 3d printer. It would probably last 1000 years depending on the materials you used.

  17. chuck says:

    How refreshing and appropriate that you highlighted the Sand Art Displays this week. Art for the sake of art. What a concept! Didn’t see a single one insulting Islam like the independent film (Innocence of Muslims) being blamed for inciting widespread anti-American violence, or the government-subsidized one insulting Christianity (Piss Christ) being resurrected for display in Bob Kerrey’s hometown, New York City, for inciting wide-spread yawning.

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