Sunday, July 14, 2019

Gift from the Sea

Judith writes:

Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift from the Sea has long been a source of inspiration. Her meditations on youth and age, peace and solitude, contemplation and creativity are as relevant today as they were in 1955 when the book was published. Over the years I have read and re-read her musings, taking her metaphors of seashells to heart. In those days plastic did not wash ashore. 
Today, at the edge of the Pacific where, as a pilgrim, I meandered the high tide line of Kehoe Beach, I unfurled the long line of scotch tape that holds the wisdom of her words. After months of meticulous work using tape to "lift" the words from the book, it was a momentous occasion to finally see the continuous line appear as if washed ashore, as a gift from the sea...

Adrift in the toss of the wrack, along the edge of eel grass and kelp, where the land meets the sea, the line of the book reminds that... 

“The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach—waiting for a gift from the sea” 

Another gift from the sea came on a life-changing day in 1999 when Richard Lang, on our first date, introduced me to Kehoe Beach. On that day, he gave the gift of a place that has become the site of our enduring devotion. We've been there hundreds of times to gather plastic debris washing out of the Pacific Ocean. From this one beach we have collected over two tons (and counting) of material. By carefully collecting and "curating" the bits of plastic, we fashion it into works of art that matter-of-factly show, with minimal artifice, the material as it is. This place has become the source of the palette for our creative collaboration. But, it is not just the plastic that brings us here again and again. It's the skittering of the sandpipers and the swoop of the Peregrin Falcons, the ocean breezes and the rhythm of the waves, the swell of the dunes and the vastness of the horizon. 

At the end of the afternoon as I gathered the length of tape to bring it home, in the tangled piles and in the final words of the book I discovered the message of the day:
We tend not to choose the unknown which might be a shock or a disappointment or simply a little difficult to cope with. And yet, it is the unknown with all its disappointments and surprises that is the most enriching. 

There are more shells to find. This is only the beginning.

The treasured gift of the embrace of friends and family.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Beachcombing Magazine

Whether meandering the beach, lounging poolside during your next vacation, or having creative fun at Young Writers Camp at UCSD in San Diego, Beachcombing Magazine is a perfect summertime read. Here, students at Janis Jones’ hands-on marine debris workshops that integrate photography and writing, are perusing the article about us and our nurdles.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Three Bags Full

Judith writes:

After the onslaught of winter storms with days and days of rain, the uplift of sunshine was almost too brilliant for eyes that had gotten accustomed to the clouds of grey. And we could not believe our eyes that, except for two birders with a scope who were there for a quick check on the nesting Peregrin Falcons, all afternoon we were the only people at Kehoe Beach.

A trip to the beach with Rebecca DiDomenico is always an adventure. She is a source of abundant enthusiasm, a font of wisdom, plus meanders the beach with a similar pace and is keen to be on the hunt for plastic and for inspiration. 

These jellyfish and sea-creatures made with mica are part of her latest art exploration.The filigree of the patterns were rasterized then cut on a laser cutting machine.

She writes on her website: 
The mica veil creates a similar intimacy, a delicate screen unfolding with its own symbolic language, a curtain rising from the stage of life, revealing only parts at a time, a tender membrane hiding deeper metaphysical questions.

Do we perceive in tiny bits of information, because otherwise so much beauty would knock us over? Like the French poet, Paul Valery, who wrote, “ Man’s great misfortune is that he has no organ, no kind of eyelid or brake, to mask or block a thought, or all thought, when he wants to.” It seems we need to be able to temporarily turn off the bombardment of stimuli, in order to re-emerge with new eyes.

For more Rebecca wonderment: Here

From a distance it looked as if there was no plastic on the beach but, since we are both slueths extraordinare, in just a few hours, we had collected three bags full. All the regular stuff was there including 15 shotgun wads. Now, thanks to the activist folks at Surfrider SF we have a place to post our ubquitous finds on their Shotgun Wad Watcher. Surfers are awesome folks who care deeply about the health of the ocean. They are keeping a tally of plastic hunting detritus with the idea that just showing the quantity will prompt action to change the composition of wads from plastic to biodegradable. 

Kehoe Beach is a field study destination for geology classes who are interested in viewing the Laird Sandstone and monumental events that gave shape to the cliffs and the coast. Slaking off the cliffs are microscopic skeletons of diatoms and single-celled plankton that once floated in the sea. And who doesn't love to see the effects of the San Andreas Fault where the tectonic plates smash one against another. To find a Tricertops in these here strata would be rare indeed but finding this diminuative Dino made geologic history.

1.25" x .5" x .375"

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Recycle Ryoanji

Judith writes:

What's old is new again.
While clearing my old computer, tranferring files to my new, I discovered some photographs of a project that deserves to be revisited.

Recycle Ryoanji graced the Civic Center Plaza in San Francisco for 10 days, April 14-24, 2007. I look back at these pics with amazement as I think about the hundreds of people and the over 6,000 white plastic shopping bags who helped make this installation possible. I never could have imagined the numbers of cities, states, countries that have banned or placed a fee on single-use plastic bags. National Geographic reports that now some 127 nations have bag regulations.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Cooper Hewitt Cool

Here's the exciting news from our friends at Cool Snow Globes. "Nature" opens at Cooper Hewitt in NYC this Friday, May 10 until January 20, 2020. We are thrilled that our beach plastic sculptures will be there to represent Kehoe Beach and the problem of plastic pollution. The globes are available for purchase online HERE.

CSG Acknowledges Children and Climate Change


Vermont based CoolSnowGlobes has collaborated with One Beach Plastic in California, to create a series of limited edition snowglobes. Each interior contains a unique sculpture constructed from pieces of discarded plastic found on a beach in Northern California. The collection consists of 60 individual pieces arranged in groups of 10, based on the six colors of the color wheel. 

"The 2019 Triennial will confront humanity’s biggest challenge yet—climate change—and asks all of us to reevaluate our relationship with nature. Opening the Triennial simultaneously on both sides of the Atlantic will amplify that message and paves the way for leaders and communities from all sectors to engage with design in this important dialogue.”

The globes retail for $125 and may be purchased at the Cooper-Hewitt Gift Shop.
Recipient of Our Donation of the Month:
The Association of Children’s Museum’s, Champions of children’s museums worldwide.
This year’s conference is called FEARLESS! And CoolSnowGlobes donated over 1000 sets of our mini cactus and mini bug snow globes as gifts to the attendees.
Get social with CoolSnowGlobes!
Copyright © 2019 CoolSnowGlobes, All rights reserved.
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Thursday, April 25, 2019


Technicolor™ is the trademark for the film technique of superimposing the three primary colors (red, yellow, blue) to produce eye-dazzling effects for motion pictures. As an adjective, technicolor describes something that is vivid, bright in color.

A morning with a brilliant blue sky superimposed with an energetic bunch of 28 kids and 12 adults from San Anselmo Co-op Nursery School is our dream of a technicolor enhanced Earth Day 2019 at Rancho D. They roamed the property, going from station to station, experiencing the creative life in its many forms.

Cooper, Sequoia (the horses) and Lauren were exemplars of good behavior. The kids were caught in the spell of the horse's aura while Lauren explained about how they came to be under her care. What lucky horses!!!

Eli tended the garden making sure that everyone had a taste of something fresh picked, experienced the thrill of catching lizards and went home with a sunflower seed planted in peat pot.
Richard embellished the story of plastic on the beach as he read, to an attentive audience, Joel Harper’s Sea Change.

For her creation-station Judith presented an assortment of colorful (red, yellow, blue and more) pieces of plastic and tag boards where an arrangement of the plastic was made, then photographed, and shared in Google Photos. 

Amelia wielded kids and brushes with a flourish, guiding them as they painted a mural announcing EARTH DAY 2019. It was not only in pre-school primary and it was also in technicolor.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Here is the Sea

From the gallery statement:
"Here is the Sea brings together artworks that use the ocean and its coasts as a site for investigating the fraught relationship between humans and nature. Richmond is a city with thirty-two miles of shoreline, and through this exhibition visitors to the Richmond Art Center are invited to reflect on what is at stake and what has already been lost in our local maritime environment. The exhibition presents a range of environmental work, from political pieces with critical messages for social action, to works exploring more subtle, personal impulses that shape our relationship to water.

Artists: Stephen Bruce, Christy Chan, Tanja Geis, Marie-Luise Klotz, Richard Lang and Judith Selby Lang, Love the Bulb Performers, Katie Revilla, Jos Sances, Dimitra Skandali"

Curator Amy Spencer was brilliant in her selection of artists and her arrangement of the exhibition space. On the wall that spans one side of the gallery is Jos Sances masterwork The Whale and just opposite on a free-free-standing black wall are three of our photographs of single nurdles each floating in a sea of rich black. With his to-scale scratch-board drawing of one of the largest creatures in the ocean and our enlargements 300x of the smallest pieces of plastic in the ocean, the compare and contrast are extreme.

Thanks to Noah and Kris Lang at Electric Works for their expert digital imaging and printing who made our grain of sand BB-sized nurdles look awesome at 32” x 32”.

Talk about apocalyptic sublime — the pesky poisonous pre-production plastic pellets look sooo beautiful. The luminous sheen of the nurdles floating in the thick saturation of the black on black background. 

Our photographs are titled:
Oma # I Oma #II and Golden Seven

“Oma” (grandmother) and “Opa” (grandfather) are used as pet names for grandmother or grandfather in Germany, Estonia, the Netherlands.

-oma. A suffix meaning “tumor” or “cancer,” as in carcinoma. Often, the suffix is added to the name of the affected body part, as in lymphoma, sarcoma, carcinoma.
“word-forming element, from Greek -oma , with lengthened stem vowel + -ma , suffix forming neuter nouns and nouns that indicate result of verbal action (equivalent of Latin -men ); especially taken in medical use as "morbid growth, tumor.”

With OMA as the title for our nurdle photos we are combining two different (sweet and sour) and seemingly disparate uses of the word. Nurdles are the ur-source, the grandmother, of all manufactured items made from plastic and they are one of the most pernicious, cancerous pieces of plastic in the ocean.

To show nurdles actual size, two gold rings with nurdles replacing the diamonds and a scatter of nurdles are presented like rare jewels. Lest we forget:

Like diamonds, plastic is forever….

In the entry way corridor our banner No Room for Sand greets visitors to the exhibition:

Here is a blog post about nurdles

Here is a blog post about beach plastic jewelry

UPDATE: May 9, 2019
So much great press with much praise for Here is the Sea

Saturday, March 23, 2019

What gives us hope

These days it is all too easy to fall into a pit of despair but when we meet up with some pro-active students from UC Berkeley our hopes rise.

We are happy to be asked again this year to add our plastic to the mix of presentations, March 23 at the 2nd Earth Action Initiative.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Big Step

As an artist one of the great rewards is to have a vision then be able to realize it. The double-triple reward is to have encouragement and support to do so.

Thanks to Steve Costa and the Geography of Hope conference team, this weekend we were able to take a big step forward with our beach plastic shoes. We did walk the walk, realizing the vision that was sparked in a conversation back in November with Steve at a benefit party for Michael Stocker’s Ocean Conservation Research.  Brainstorming ensued and before we knew it our shoes were leading the way into the conference.

During lunch our shoes were piled on the lawn in an arrangement that invited lively discussion and questions about the shoes and their arrival on the beach and the suggestion of a game matching possible and unlikely pairs — how about a croc with a loafer? or that high heel with a flipflop? Our sign posts offered a place to pause and consider philosophical thoughts about the meaning of the pilgrimage.

The next morning the conference community gathered for a special pilgrimage walk to the Miwok Village Kule Loklo. As the troop headed up the hill, someone exclaimed, “There are those shoes!!! At dawn, in secret, a line of shoes was drawn along the trail so that they would be an unexpected greeting, connecting the dots from Kehoe Beach to the Dance Palace to the Woodpecker Trail. 

That shout of recognition was all that was needed to make it all worthwhile.
“There are those shoes!!!”

Yes, quite a journey. So it goes and on it goes…