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Artist Makes Incredibly Complex Sand Castles

Like Buddhist sand mandalas, artist Calvin Seibert's work is made to be blown away. 

Spending about eight to 10 hours a day, and four to five days per week, Seibert builds impressive sand castles with lines so neat, they look like they were carved from concrete. The artist makes sand castles on and off the beach, hitting all of New York's favorite oceanside haunts: Fort Tilden in the Rockaways, Jones Beach on Long Island, and Coney Island.

“I get a different reaction with different groups of people,” Seibert said. “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!’”

Because of the nature of sand, the artist's work never lasts long. Usually the creations are promptly washed away by the water or knocked over by a clumsy beach-goer. At most, the castle might last a week.

The process of making the structures is not far from the approach a casual builder might use. He starts with a large pile of wet sand, gathered with a five-gallon paint bucket, then starts sculpting with his hands, and eventually moves to tools like plastic spackling blades and Plexiglas trowels. The tools are wiped clean after each cut to get those satisfyingly smooth surfaces.

From the look of his work, many have suggested that the sand artist has a background in architecture. Despite the complexity of his structures, Seibert has never worked with a blueprint or drawn up plans.

“Lots of people say ‘Mayan’ or ‘Frank Gehry’ when they look at them,” he said. “But that tells me that I haven’t been focused enough. I’m not thinking ‘Mayan,’ I’m just doing it from the weird, unconscious place I’m at.”

Inspiration for the project started when the artist's father, ski champion Pete Seibert, helped lead the construction of Vail in the mid-1960s. The young artist would play in the shadows of the new buildings' foundations and framings. 

Although Siebert's castles look like works of art, he would never want them in the confines of an art gallery. “It’s important that they’re at the beach,” he explained. “A sandcastle is ephemeral. There is a thing on the horizon that’s going to destroy it. That’s what makes it powerful and interesting.”

Images via Calvin Seibert

[h/t: CityLab.com]

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Ape Meets Girl
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Pop Culture
Epic Gremlins Poster Contains More Than 80 References to Classic Movies
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Ape Meets Girl

It’s easy to see why Gremlins (1984) appeals to movie nerds. Executive produced by Steven Spielberg and written by Chris Columbus, the film has horror, humor, and awesome 1980s special effects that strike a balance between campy and creepy. Perhaps it’s the movie’s status as a pop culture treasure that inspired artist Kevin Wilson to make it the center of his epic hidden-image puzzle of movie references.

According to io9, Wilson, who works under the pseudonym Ape Meets Girl, has hidden 84 nods to different movies in this Gremlins poster. The scene is taken from the movie’s opening, when Randall enters a shop in Chinatown looking for a gift for his son and leaves with a mysterious creature. Like in the film, Mr. Wing’s shop in the poster is filled with mysterious artifacts, but look closely and you’ll find some objects that look familiar. Tucked onto the bottom shelf is a Chucky doll from Child’s Play (1988); above Randall’s head is a plank of wood from the Orca ship made famous by Jaws (1975); behind Mr. Wing’s counter, which is draped with a rug from The Shining’s (1980) Overlook Hotel, is the painting of Vigo the Carpathian from Ghostbusters II (1989). The poster was released by the Hero Complex Gallery at New York Comic Con earlier this month.

“Early on, myself and HCG had talked about having a few '80s Easter Eggs, but as we started making a list it got longer and longer,” Wilson told Mental Floss. “It soon expanded from '80s to any prop or McGuffin that would fit the curio shop setting. I had to stop somewhere so I stopped at 84, the year Gremlins was released. Since then I’ve thought of dozens more I wish I’d included.”

The ambitious artwork has already sold out, but fortunately cinema buffs can take as much time as they like scouring the poster from their computers. Once you think you’ve found all the references you can possibly find, you can check out Wilson’s key below to see what you missed (and yes, he already knows No. 1 should be Clash of the Titans [1981], not Jason and the Argonauts [1963]). For more pop culture-inspired art, follow Ape Meets Girl on Facebook and Instagram.

Key for hidden image puzzle.
Ape Meets Girl

[h/t io9]

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Kehinde Wiley Studio, Inc., Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
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presidents
Barack Obama Taps Kehinde Wiley to Paint His Official Presidential Portrait
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Kehinde Wiley
Kehinde Wiley Studio, Inc., Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Kehinde Wiley, an American artist known for his grand portraits of African-American subjects, has painted Michael Jackson, Ice-T, and The Notorious B.I.G. in his work. Now the artist will have the honor of adding Barack Obama to that list. According to the Smithsonian, the former president has selected Wiley to paint his official presidential portrait, which will hang in the National Portrait Gallery.

Wiley’s portraits typically depict black people in powerful poses. Sometimes he models his work after classic paintings, as was the case with "Napoleon Leading the Army Over the Alps.” The subjects are often dressed in hip-hop-style clothing and placed against decorative backdrops.

Portrait by Kehinde Wiley
"Le Roi a la Chasse"
Kehinde Wiley, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0

Smithsonian also announced that Baltimore-based artist Amy Sherald has been chosen by former first lady Michelle Obama to paint her portrait for the gallery. Like Wiley, Sherald uses her work to challenge stereotypes of African-Americans in art.

“The Portrait Gallery is absolutely delighted that Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald have agreed to create the official portraits of our former president and first lady,” Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery, said in a press release. “Both have achieved enormous success as artists, but even more, they make art that reflects the power and potential of portraiture in the 21st century.”

The tradition of the president and first lady posing for portraits for the National Portrait Gallery dates back to George H.W. Bush. Both Wiley’s and Sherald’s pieces will be revealed in early 2018 as permanent additions to the gallery in Washington, D.C.

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