Moncton — A Shediac-based artist is celebrating today after he received a letter from artsnb informing him that he is the lucky recipient of a $50,000 creation grant that will allow him to work on his beautiful sand sculptures for the remaining weeks of summer.
“My associates and I have been fighting, as sand sculpture artists, to be included in this province’s narrow concept of ‘art’ since at least the beginning of the summer,” said Liam Orlando, 34, who was at Parlee sculpting a traditional sandcastle using children’s plastic buckets and trowels. “So I made a pretty kick-ass lobster sculpture, took a picture, drew up an application, and sent ‘er in — never expected to hear back, but before I knew it they were offering me 50 grand!”
Orlando said he asked Health Minister Benoît Bourque to write him a letter of reference to bolster his application.
“I saw him floating around in the water, spouting it out of his mouth like it wasn’t full of shit. Anyway, he was gung-ho about writing me the letter. ‘Anything that’ll convince people to come to Parlee Beach,’ he told me.”
The Manatee spoke with the New Brunswick Arts Board, whose members explained that, because sand sculptures are continually washed away by the tides or kicked apart by rowdy kids, they need to be constantly reconstructed, which takes lots of time — and more importantly, lots of money.
“The transient nature of this type of artwork really spoke to us,” said executive director Joss Richer. “As you probably know, we try to lend our support to artists doomed to die in obscurity — the less likely their work is to succeed commercially, the more it interests us. Even if Mr. Orlando gets a bit of public attention for this, it’ll be over in a week and no one will remember his name or that he’s from New Brunswick. Now that’s art.”
Richer said that, because of the large amount of money going to Orlando, the board had to withdraw their promised financial support from other artists.
“We took a couple thousand from a poet — honestly, who reads or pays for poetry these days? — and a few from a painter whose work is popular, but that I don’t personally like.
“We usually award just enough money so that the recipient can work while living in a studio apartment and eating Chef Boyardee from a can heated over a candle. With this large amount, though, Mr. Orlando will be able to live comfortably in his beach tent, he’ll have money for artistic implements such as shovels and buckets as well as decorative elements like seagull feathers, popsicle sticks and sea glass. He’ll be able to afford other necessary evils such as sunscreen and a beach towel and sunglasses, and we’ll pay him handsomely for the sheer artistic energy expended when digging moats and building trenches, or whatever else goes into building sandcastles. I don’t really know.”
Orlando said he could never have dreamed of creating these sculptures without artsnb’s assistance.
“My parents don’t consider what I do to be art. They’re always telling me, ‘Will you get off your ass and and go get a job, for god’s sake?’ So I almost started to give in to their pressure. But now I’m a professional artist, so, suck it, Mom and Dad!”
Orlando then spat on the ground, and began ambling toward the water to fill an old Tim Hortons cup with moist sand.
Other artists/projects the arts board is funding this year include:
-$5,000 to an artist who paints reclaimed driftwood
-$4,000 to a Christmas tree salesman who makes wreaths out of pine cones
-$3,000 to a retired schoolteacher who makes artisanal coasters using cork
-$6,500 to a performance artist who stands on street corners and reenacts forgotten wars
-$7,000 to a filmmaker who uses his iPhone to record cars going through drive-thrus
-$3,000 to an Instagram model whose selfies are her art
-$8,000 to a four-year-old who does finger-paintings
-$7,000 to a guy who makes “funny” signs to hang up at trailers and cottages
-$10,000 to a graphic artist to redesign artsnb’s outdated website