By JILL DIAMOND | Downtown News
While some artists choose watercolors, oil paints, or other favorite mediums, a select few prefer sand. Almost like the kind you stomp around in at the beach, just better.
And if you love to watch talented artists in action, you might want to attend the upcoming annual Port of San Diego U.S. Sand Sculpting Challenge and Dimensional Art Exposition headed to San Diego’s Downtown waterfront from Aug. 31 through Sept. 2. The event will take place at the Broadway Pier and Pavilion located at 1000 N. Harbor Drive.
“This is an absolutely amazing event and fun time for families and everyone during the Labor Day weekend,” said co-founder JoyceSummer.
“It really is a lot of fun and the sculptors are truly gifted,” said her husband and co-founder Gordon Summer. “The sand is brought in a few days before the event and we try to have a caravan of tow trucks come onto the pier in two phases.The first is for sponsors’ sculptures and a second phase happens a few days later for the competitors.”
“It’s a very dramatic opening to the event,” added Joyce.
The place to be
Considered among the top 20 must-see seaside festivals in the world by American Express and included in USA Today’s 10 best, this is indeed one of the world’s most prominent sand-sculpting competitions to attend.
It is also the focal point of activities that draw more than 200,000 visitors to the beautiful Embarcadero and Broadway cruise ship pier.
As for the competition, it will be among 12 world master sculptors who will carve solo for four days to create museum-quality sculptures as high as 15 feet tall and weighing more than 20,000 pounds.
“These are among the best sand artists in the world challenging some of the best in the U.S. In addition, three teams of four recreate the U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition that ran from 1980-2011. In all, there are 20 amazing sculptures,” Gordon said.
Theme is ‘Wonder’
This year’s theme is “Wonder,” which pays tribute to the Port’s Wonderfront 2019 campaign, Joyce explained.
Sculptors will interpret this theme as they wish, from ephemeral ideas like “curiosity” to the greatest wonders of the world, or even whimsical renditions of Stevie Wonder or Wonder Woman.
Gordon said it also lets patrons view the sculptures up close.
The couple has been involved in the sand event since 2006 but took it over and madeit their own in 2012.They renamed it and moved the event to the pier from ImperialBeach.
As for the sculptors, there are only about 50 in the world who create at this level and get paid to compete (this year’s prize and appearance money in San Diego is $60,000), Gordon said.
“Many started out in sand because they wanted to test their ideas before doing permanent sculpture like marble,” he said. “But they stuck with sand because they liked it and the fact that it is temporary art. Once it’s done, it’s pretty much destroyed and they just move onto wherever they are going …Brussels, Korea, Paris, they are a veryclose group and travel together and get a huge kick out of it.”
Some of the world master sand artists who have participated in the event in the past praised it.
“The sand here on this pier in San Diego is incredible. It holds together so well, and it is so strong; you can do anything with it. Right here is where I make the most daring designs and push the sand to incredible shapes that would be impossible anywhere else. On top of that we have some of the world’s best sculptors making their best works. Every year, I look forward to seeing the amazing sculptures of this competition,” said Thomas Koet, of Melbourne, Florida.
“Sand sculpture is a test—it can flow like a dance or feel like a wrestling match. It is an exhilarating, physical, and creative endeavor; a wonderful process and an awe-inspiring product; a means of calm focus, and a cause of frustration. Remember— no magic, no tricks— just effort and desire,” added Dan Belcher of St. Louis.
“Creating with my peers in San Diego and all over the world provides me with continuous possibilities to learn,” said Dmitry Klimenko of St. Petersburg, Russia.
“When my hands touch the material, when my heart opens to give life, when my head is illuminated by light, I become the co-creator of the universe. An artist is one who spiritualizes matter,” said Melineige Beauregard of Montreal, Quebec.
In additionto the sand sculptures, there will be the annual Dimensional Art Exposition where artists from as far as New Mexico and Montana exhibit and sell one-of-a-kind works of art. Visitors will be able to check out 2,000 items including hand-made clothing and accessories, wood carvings and metal designs, beautiful gourds, glass art, jewelry, quilled greeting cards, ceramics and much more to buy and take home.
Transportation and parking
According to event planners, new transportation and user-friendly parking options make getting to and from the event easy. MTS trolleys and buses, the North County Coaster and Amtrak trains all take event-goers within two blocks of the Broadway Pier. The Coronado Ferry disembarks next door! Lyft and Uber drop attendees at the festival’s front door.
If you’re driving, you may park at the USS Midway or B Street pier, within two blocks of the event, or just across Harbor Drive at the Lane Field hotels or Windham Bayside. There are other lots available nearby, including the Waterfront Park/County Administration Building on west A Street. On-street parking is free on Sunday and Monday — no meter feeding.
You may also park remotely and enjoy a ride along the bay on the Port of San Diego’s Waterfront Shuttle. It runs every 20 minutes in a loop from Sheraton Marina across from the airport on the north to Harbor Drive Bridge near theConvention Center on the South. Cost is $3. More info at portofsandiego.org/shuttle
More 2019 show features
San Diego Seals lacrosse stars will make special appearances to take photos with fans and sign autographs.
An expanded kid zone features sandcastle building lessons from master sculptors, and rides such as European bungie, bubble fun, bounce houses and more!
Families can picnic on the bay with food and drink from over a dozen gourmet food trucks and vendors including: Cousins Maine Lobster, Eat Your Heart Out, The Habit Burger Grille, Matheny’s Wagon Works, Lolita’s Mexican Food, Sophia’s Kitchen, Pomodoro Rosso, Kettle Masters Kettle Korn, Cruising Cones, Goodness Baked Cookie Co., Old School Shave Ice, and Maui Wowi.
Live entertainment from bands paying tribute to the Beatles, Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, Journey and other greats are also scheduled, as well as special appearances by Elvis on Saturday and Sunday nights!