Staff Writer Phil Lederer was invited to serve as a judge for the annual Siesta Key Crystal Classic Master Sand Sculpting Competition from November 14-18. Phil has been covering the arts and culture and foodie beat since he began as an intern at SRQ Media and now continues his work as a full time staff writer.
Starting in 2010, the Master Sand Sculpting Competition has quickly gained notoriety among locals, tourists and the sculptors participating in the weekend’s festivities. In order to qualify as a competing sculptor, artists must participate and win in amateur sand sculpting locations held across the country. This year’s competition featured artists from across the globe sculpting Siesta Key’s pure white sand.
“Craftsmanship of course plays a large role,” says Phil on what it takes to garner first prize. “Everyone competing at this level is undeniably skilled, making it difficult to judge based solely on those criteria, though we did take into account the difficulty of the design and aspects such as surface texture. For me, the make-it-or-break-it criteria was the artist’s concept. Each team did what it set out to do, so it became a question of the originality of the concept.”
When spectators walked through the sand to admire the sculptures the often questioned aloud, “how do they do that?!” Well, we wondered the same thing. “What first struck me was the scale of the creations – they are massive” says Phil. “Prior to this, the world of professional sand-sculpting was a mystery to me, and still is to some extent. The way they work the sand and the tools they use is not something I can understand, outside of actually doing it. The sand I feel between my toes is not the sand they’re working with. In much the same way that a piano means something different to a master pianist. sand becomes something different in their hands, something I can’t really approximate. I’ll judge the finished product, but I’ll never be able to judge their process.”
It is undeniable that this yearly competition is a positive economic draw for the area. We look forward to many more years of this artistic competition – and the fantastic sculptures gracing the beach.
For information on the Siesta Key Crystal Classic Master Sand Sculpting Competition and to view photos of the winning sculptures, visit their website.