Free Our Seas Proud to be Making Our Mark tire treads, old keys and scrap make eyecatching art on Earth Day









Anne Geggis

You’ve never looked at trash quite like this.

One beach noodle, four plastic beach buckets, 20 fishing gloves, 200 flip-flop sandals and 250 plastic straws drew gaggles of gawkers throughout the day, doing selfies and Instagramming away. That’s because those materials were made into a grouper fish about the size of a dining room table.

“It’s beautiful,” said Jonathan Ogden of West Palm Beach, who was snapping cellphone pictures. “Yet it’s ugly. Because it comes from the ocean.”

Similar trash-formations abounded throughout the first-of-its kind Environmental Art Festival held Saturday — Earth Day — at the Carpenter House at Hollywood North Beach Park, 4414 N. Surf Road. The inspiration for the festival came from daily beach-walking along Hollywood’s beach. Manon Wiese, 47, co-chair of the festival, said she’s been seeing more and more of the flotsam and jetsam of modern life showing up in the sand in the three years she’s been a beachcomber.

“We wanted to harness the power of art to educate the public about single-use plastic” like plastic straws, bottle caps and cutlery, said Wiese, whose husband Kurt Wiese, 42, fashioned the grouper from what they found during their daily walks.

The event drew exhibits from 30 artists, but first it began with a beach clean-up, or maybe a haul of 400 pounds of art material. Twenty nonprofits also set up tables loaded with materials to raise awareness about how individual choices affect marine life. Wiese, for example, immediately tells a waiter or waitress “no straw, please.” It’s estimated that Americans use 500 million straws a day, enough to circle the planet 2 ½ times if they were placed end to end. The material is usually not recyclable and degrades into small pieces that sea creatures mistake for food — and it can kill them, Wiese said.“But they usually bring the straw anyway,” Wiese said.

Artists willing to pick it out of the stream of waste ruled the day. About 1,500 people came to see the beached art, organizers estimated. Derek Burkholder, director of the Marine Environmental Education Center at Carpenter House, said he’d like to see it repeated. “I was blown away,” Burkholder said, of the art and the turnout. “”It’s amazing to be around people who can build this kind of artwork out of other people’s trash.” In Captain Honk’s hands, a discarded tire tread became a convincing moray eel, complete with scary teeth made of discarded keys. Light bulbs, skateboard wheels, compasses and even a door nob became convincing fish eyes for mackerel, pig fish and sheepshead The inspiration literally floated by him while Honk, 66, was fishing.

“The trash out there, it’s not getting any better,” he said.


Deerfield Beach launches litter-free initiative »

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