Andres Amador’s Earthscapes: Art that Goes Out with the Tide

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Andres Amador, a San Francisco-based Earthscape artist, uses rakes and ropes to make large doodles in the sand — sometimes geometric, sometimes more abstract and fortuitous – employing a combination of artistry, geometry, and technology. Walking beach visitors and the breeze will naturally muddy and dissolve the precise lines where the waves do not wash away his effort.

The artist Andres Amador silently descends the steep, disintegrating dunes arching over a San Francisco shoreline to the beach below, carrying a bundle of three-pronged tools and hand-assembled rakes cast over one shoulder.

He walks till it feels right – until he finds a broad enough expanse of wet sand to serve as his canvas, scanning the horizon and stopping every now and then to smile and pick up smooth stones. It will soon come to life, carved with the large-scale angles and arches that define his intriguing Earthscape painting style.

“It’s a race against time,” he adds as he puts his tools together, and there’s no time to waste. The tide, which is receding as he begins, will quickly regain its footing, sweeping over his labor just moments after it is completed. After all, that is part of the objective.

“People have a hard time with this feeling of impermanence, of creating something that appears to have no real purpose – which, on some level, is all art,” he adds, noting that he attempts to play the role of a contrarian. “However, I am totally convinced that there is a much larger event unfolding and that art plays a much larger role than humanity, or at least our culture, recognizes.”

Amador has created huge works of art in the sand in California, Mexico, and New Zealand. The designs vary, but the outcomes are consistent. The lanky man with a sunhat glides rhythmically, bouncing over enormous rocks protruding off of the shore, raking the sand as he goes, causing beach joggers, laughing youngsters, and damp dogs to cease their seaside merriment.

The winding lines don’t appear to be much at first. But, with a calm focus, he rakes them into shape, working with care and precision to create the transitory work of art that will amaze people who come upon it.

While his art was initially motivated by geometric shapes and built with straight lines, he has subsequently expanded his style to include environmental signals. Amador claims that his patterns and technique are similar to those seen in nature. “There is a science component to the artwork in that sense.”

While on vacation in Hawaii, he began painting in the sand with a stick. His first Earthscape painting was produced in the sand at Ocean Beach in San Francisco in 2004. His hobby became his full-time business ten years later, and he now makes a fortune selling prints, making commissioned art, and leading workshops to help people experience and create their own beach pieces. Art has influenced how he views himself and interacts with the environment.

“It’s been a major change for me.” “The art has guided me in my own life, assisting me in letting go of certainties and absolutes in favor of being open to the mystery of what can come up,” he says.

The finished piece runs thousands of feet along the shore and freezes people in their tracks. He snaps a picture of the job from above with a drone, smiling at what has been accomplished and graciously addressing questions from the gathered crowd. The water is already eroding the margins, but the day’s job is completed.

“Getting the notion out of my head and seeing it actualized is its own joy,” he says, even if it will all be washed away soon. He believes that his work will inspire others to cherish the present moment and to have the confidence to express themselves as artists for the sake of it.

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