Stinson Beach Library – Found Art

Four artists’ work is on display at the Stinson Beach Library until 31 January, 2012.

Richard James has two of his large meta-bottles on the patio along with 49 jellyfish I made out of Korean fishing-net floats and crab-fishing rope.

Lina Jane Prairie has baskets made from kelp and the same rope I use for tentacles.

John Norton is showing a few of his collections of similar items found on the beach.

Tess Felix has created two mermaids and a few portraits, mosaics actually, all from the bits of petroleum-based plastic we humans discard every minute of every day which wash ashore on the world’s beaches and are eaten by birds and fish the world over every minute of every day.

Powered by petroleum

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Powered by petroleum

Does my Prius consume more gasoline to go a mile than was needed to build and ship all those plastic bottles on the roof?

I don’t know.

Google could give me lots of numbers in a short time.

My eyes tell me that plastic bottles, even one, consume too much oil.

We kid ourselves, thinking it gets recycled, all is good.

If it gets recycled, why do I find thousands upon thousands of plastic water bottles on a fraction of the California coast each year?

What about all the animals that will eventually eat all that plastic we keep dumping in the ocean?

Man is one of those animals.

Tomorrow, instead of pouring milk on your cereal or in your coffee, eat the bottle.

Go direct!

Cut out the middleman and save.

Experience what all the fishes and birds in the sea do every day.

Or buy milk in a glass bottle.

Or raise chickens and trade their eggs for milk from your neighbor’s cow Rosie like a friend of mine does.

That bottle on my car is at Marin Arts Council for another month as part of their Pop Art show.

Check out the show here.

Go see lots of cool art. Buy a card and support the arts and your local coastodian.

Stop buying bottled water!

Get a metal water bottle and use your tap.

Put a filter on the tap if you don’t like the taste.

Stop fouling the rivers if you don’t want to filter that which belongs to our children, and their children, and so on.

the coastodian

I don’t like your bottles in the park

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A couple days ago I stopped to get coffee at a local market.

As I got out of my car and walked towards the door, cup in hand, a woman I know shouted out to me “Hey, shouldn’t you be out on the beach picking up trash?”

She was smiling as she said it. One of those smiles that says I am kidding, but not fully.

I explained that I wrenched my knee and was on the DL for a while as I recuperated.

Standing feet apart from one another at the edge of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, she said to me, “I saw your sculptures in the park by the visitor center. I don’t like them in the National Park.”

I’ve known her for a few years now, mostly bumping into her at volunteer events at the park. She is a long time Point Reyes National Seashore volunteer, roosting in West Marin when not at one of her other residences.

She is always pretty direct, in your face. She likes to get a reaction with her words.

The object of her disdain is “Thirsty?”, my collection of five eight-and-a-half-foot-tall plastic bottle sculptures. I spent a year picking up about a ton of trash off park beaches, from which I culled one item, plastic bottles, to create the art installation.

“What don’t you like about the sculptures?” I asked.

“I don’t like their aesthetic,” she said.

“Yeah. They look kind of trashy in the meadow don’t they?” I stated.

“That’s right, I don’t like that sort of thing in the National Park, it looks bad,” she said.

At this point I am figuring she declined to walk over to the art installation and read the 43-word interpretive panel explaining the piece.

“I’m glad you don’t like it,” I said, “neither do I. All that trash in the park is just plain wrong!”

I encouraged her, after entering the market, to ask the owner to stop selling bottled water. He has told me he is a capitalist and he intends to make money, consequences be damned.

I’m not quite sure she got the message of “Thirsty?”.

Tons of trash washes ashore on California beaches each and every day. Most of it almost tinier than the eye can see in the form of (raw plastic-nurdles), shredded Styrofoam pellets, packaging, toys, fishing gear, food containers etc.

Most people don’t see the magnitude of the trash problem when they visit the beach.

Magnifying the problem by building eight and a half foot tall plastic bottles apparently registered on her radar.

How big do I need to make these bottles to get on a majority of people’s radar?

We are shitting in our nest a toxic brew of chemicals nature cannot metabolize.

Please, use one metal bottle!

the coastodian

Thirsty? at Bear Valley Visitor Center - Point Reyes National Seashore

Meta-bottles on Drake’s Beach, huh?

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The beaches of Point Reyes National Seashore are striking.

Meta-bottles on Drake's Beach

I often walk these beaches in search of interesting  subjects to photograph, as well as to soothe my soul, collecting trash along the way.

In 3 years I have packed out on my back over three tons of trash, mostly plastic and styrofoam bits of all sizes.

After a couple of years of packing 80+ pound packs of foam and boat bits off Tomales Point and the area beaches, it was suggested to me more than once that I ought to store one years’ worth of trash, then display it downtown for all to see. My response evolved into, “That is a great idea, may I store it at your place?” Always, this was met with a grin and a no-thanks.

Having this exchange a few times prompted me to decide to store a year’s worth of drink bottles and display them somehow, with the hope of encouraging people to use a refillable metal bottle and stop buying plastic. The folks at Point Reyes National Seashore kindly allowed me to store my material in a park barn.

I constructed what I call meta-bottles. Bottles of bottles. The contents and the caps (two-gallon buckets) are beach debris. The chicken wire was donated, then purchased when that ran out. It is all held together with, sigh, plastic tie-wraps. I tried to sew the chicken wire with found rope. It was not do-able in the manner I tried, though I plan to re-examine this for future bottles.

Each bottle is 8.5 feet tall and 30 inches in diameter. The five bottles comprise roughly 172 cubic feet of mostly uncompressed plastic bottles.

Intact labels show countries of origin including: Japan, China, Korea, Russia, Malaysia, Greece. A small percentage are clearly “home-grown in the US of A”. The currents of the sea bring others’ trash to us, perhaps our trash to them. The sea creatures see it all, often thinking it is food to eat.

What I have learned from my many hours on the beach is that it does not so much matter how many people pick up the trash that is coming in, 24/7/365 from the sea.  Myself and 1000 others could work each and every day and not keep up with the new trash arriving each day.

More importantly, we all need to stop adding to the mess by making wiser, more sustainable hydration and other purchase choices.

These meta-bottles show what one person can pick up on a fraction of the earth’s coastline in one short year. Imagine what is trapped in the many gyres in all the seas! The earth cannot metabolize what man keeps dumping in the sea. These bottles eventually break down and are eaten by fish, that are eaten by fish and eventually eaten by man.

Please consider never buying another plastic bottle of water. Tell a friend, too!

Thanks go out to Lacey, Joe, Madeleine, Gordon, Samantha, Micaela, Katrina, Sean, Katie, Jesse, Chris, Angie, Gabe, Melanie, Randy, Carissa and especially Vicki for helping me along the way. Thanks everyone!

The Coastodian