The art of flip-flops. A fish display at Washed Ashore Gallery.

The art of trash. A sculpture at Washed Ashore Gallery.

There’s nothing quite as sad as seeing trash on the beach, especially when the coast is as wild and gorgeous as it is here in Oregon. Somehow it just feels so wrong, so very polluted, a veritable affront to nature if you will. Most folks will simply sigh and walk past, others might pick it up, but one fine organization decided to embrace the problem and look at it differently….how about turning all that trash into art?

A cute seal

A cute seal

Alex by the massive starfish

Alex by the massive starfish

It’s a genius idea and the heartbeat of the project is right here in the center of our favorite coastal city of Bandon, OR. takes the trash that everyone sees as an eyesore and creates stunning pieces of artwork that they display around town and on travelling exhibits. Their mission statement is to “educate and create awareness about marine debris and plastic pollution through art”. I mean honestly, how much cooler does it get than that?

I first noticed the project last year when I drove past a rather spectacular “trash Eagle” on my way from Bandon down to Cape Blanco. At the time I thought it was a cool one-off piece but didn’t really look into it further. In the past 12 months it seems the project has sprouted into full-blown bloom. Our first trip downtown we saw two massive sculptures in the city center and a few days later we discovered several additional masterful pieces in a large gallery just around the corner. The whole project has taken on a life of it’s own and expanded so much there’s now an online website and even a full-blown documentary. Locally you can join the fun by bringing over trash and getting involved hands-on with free community workshops.

Detail of an anenome

Detail of an anemone

And the art is truly spectacular! From a gorgeous fish made out of flip flops to a life-size whale bone sculpture created from white plastic bottles and jugs, to a massive starfish embedded with colorful glass. Each piece is totally unique and paired with an environmental message about the hazards of waste and debris in the ocean. Totally creative and educational at the same time, exactly what the project is trying to achieve.

This past week Paul’s niece Alex came into town providing us the perfect excuse to check out the latest sculptures and re-visit the project. We didn’t manage to join any of the workshops, but Alex was totally taken by the artwork and enjoyed a good hour perusing the exhibits and reading the panels. We made a full day of it, walking around town, eating lunch at Tony’s Crab Shack (always one of our fav local spots), spending time at the gallery and finishing the afternoon with some ridiculously good ice cream at the new Face Rock Creamery (yes, my arm was totally twisted on this one…woe be me). I call it creative mind-feeding with some belly-pleasing thrown in for good measure. A good combo, wouldn’t you say?…and yet another reason I love this town so much.

The art of belly-pleasing? Choosing ice cream at Face Rock Creamery

Ice cream anyone? Lots o’ choice at Face Rock Creamery

Yummy fish taco's at Tony's Crab Shack

Yummy fish taco’s at Tony’s Crab Shack

Trash detail

Trash detail

The outdoor downtown fish

The outdoor downtown fish

Alex poses in the whale bone sculpture

Alex poses in the whale bone sculpture

Artistic ice cream?

Artistic ice cream eating?

Close-up of the starfish

Close-up of the starfish

Cool octapus

Cool octopus


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26 Responses to The Creative Art Of Sea Trash -> WashedAshore.Org In Bandon, OR

  1. hobopals says:

    I saw a wonderful display of “trash” art in Mendocino. From what I have heard, there’s a lot of flotsam showing up on Oregon beaches from the Tsunami in Tokyo. I think it would be a great idea if all RVers/hikers took along bags to collect the junk that people leave around. It especially irks me to see cans and cigarette butts.

    • libertatemamo says:

      We got quite a bit of Tsunami debris here in Bandon last year, but not so much this year. They’ve definitely had more stuff up north. Great to hear Mendocino has a program like this! I’ll have to check it out if we drive through that way. And I agree with you about picking up trash…I always try to do it, even when we’re boondocking.

  2. Gunta says:

    Great post. I nominate you ambassador for Bandon! ;)

  3. It’s astounding to me that people just throw trash away in any way that’s not right. Beautiful landscapes are marred by flying debris and papers, someones unwanted and unwashed. To make beautiful art from it is an amazing thing. Thank you so much for sharing this!

  4. What an awesome place to visit.

    Alex is a beauty!

  5. Lenore says:

    Trash art and fish tacos – a perfect day.

  6. Mary Fassel says:

    I should be at Bullards Beach Horse Camp with my friends The Galloping Mermaids! It’s been an annual event for two weeks every year to hang out with the girls and ride our horses. Drop by and tell them Hi from me!

    • libertatemamo says:

      Oh my! So sorry you’re not here. Ill go by the horse camp on my days off and see if I can spot your buddies. I love horses!

  7. Sunny Phillips says:

    I live Face Rock Creamery and Bandon food in general.

  8. geogypsy2u says:

    A creative idea to deal with the beach trash plus make people aware.

  9. Samantha says:

    Alex is gorgeous. Some Cuban ancestry in there, I suppose…

  10. placestheygo says:

    It is sad to see the trash. Thank goodness there are people who found some beauty in it. What amazing art work! You are doing an awesome job promoting your location. I can’t wait to return with the MH and spend more than a day.

    You can definitely see the relationship between Paul and Alex. She is so attractive.

    Glad you allowed your arm to be twisted. I understand how difficult it is to be “forced” to eat ice cream!!!!

    • libertatemamo says:

      It was a hard sacrifice I tell you. I ended up with some kind of dark chocolate with more dark chocolate bits inside. Oh dear…

  11. LuAnn says:

    I had not heard of and found their website fascinating. I follow an artist blogger who lives in Ecuador who collects debris that washes ashore and creates lovely works of art.

    Have fun with Alex. She looks like she is having great fun!

    You are my kinda gal Nina…dark chocolate ice cream with dark chocolate bits. Oh my! :)

    • libertatemamo says:

      I tell ya the chocolate was delectable, so much so I had to try it again a few days later just to be sure. I’m still not entirely convinced so I may have to re-taste several more times before I can make a permanent decision on the matter. ‘Tis a tough life ;)

  12. It’s a conundrum: I am not sure if I find a jewel of a place like this I would share it with everyone. The word spreads and before you know it traffic jams, lines, and no place to park… maybe you should have all your readers sign a non-disclosure agreement and if they violate it they have to buy you ice cream for the next 2 years, maybe 3… Note: will work for dark chocolate…

  13. […] away in Portland picking up his niece (who you may remember from last year) while I while away the day hanging by the beach and rocking out to The Cure (yes, I regress […]

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