With many of us heading off to the beach this Memorial Day, I thought you would enjoy seeing what you might find if you could hop into a time machine and travel down to Long Beach some eighty years ago. Right across from the once famous Virginia Hotel, a very talented artist named Ross Yost set about creating an outdoor art gallery with works made entirely of sand. Although the art of “sand sculpting” had been popular on the beaches of the East Coast for some time, it was still a rarity out west, making Yost’s fascinating works all the more of a draw for the beachgoers of 1929-1930.
Just out of art school, Yost, soon to be dubbed “The Sand Man,” traded in his brush and easel for a small wooden stick and a beach full of sand to create a series of seaside masterpieces that were so good, more than a few passers-by refused to believe they were sand at all, thinking Yost had made them of plaster in a studio and transplanted them to the beach. Their skepticism would often turn to wonder as they watched Yost create a new work right before their eyes.
Yost innovatively found a way to make his creations last longer than the wind and waves would normally allow by coating them in a solution of cement and water. This allowed him to paint his subjects in natural lifelike colors, which only added to the fascination of these masterpieces on the sand. As Gale White wrote in the L.A. Times in 1930, “Because one thinks of sand as ever shifting, ever-changing, the fascination of the sculptor’s sand models lies as much in their evanescence as in their beauty.
Paradise Leased wishes you a safe and happy Memorial Day!