Shifting Sand

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Works of Art will Stand For Just One More Day

By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Tuesday, June 28, 2011

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online]
Lucinda "Sandy Feet" Wierenga works on her sculpture, "Perception is Reality" as part of the 2011 Master Sand Sculpting Competition at Hampton Beach Saturday.
[Ioanna Raptis Photo]

HAMPTON -- The competition may be over, but there is still time to see the creations 10 master sand sculptors from around the world created before they are torn down.

All 10 sculptures will remain up for viewing until Wednesday.

The sand sculptures at the 11th annual Master Sand Sculpting Competition range from a depiction of the "Old Woman in the Shoe" to a nod to the Boston Bruins with a sculpture of Most Valuable Player Tim Thomas.

Organizer Gregory Grady said the competition was a success but rain over the weekend did frustrate sculptors.

Despite overcast skies, though, thousands came to watch the artists.

The event also generated local and national media attention, including a small segment on a CNN morning show.

Marc Lepire took home top honors at this year's competition and a first-class ticket to compete in the World Championship of Sand Sculpting in November in Fort Myers, Fla.

Lepire's "Phase Shifter" was selected by judges Saturday night over the other sculptures, including one created by last year's winner, Justin Gordon, of Groveland Mass.

Lepire received a $3,000 cash prize and was also given the Sculptors' Choice Award, voted on by his fellow competitors.

The competition, sponsored by the Hampton Beach Village Precinct, is only one of four qualifiers for the World Championship and featured master sand artists from the United States, Canada and the Netherlands.

Each sculptor was given 10 tons of sand for their creation and had 21 hours over three days to complete it.

The judges chose first- through fifth-place winners based on artistic merit, technical difficulty, design and overall "wow factor."

This year's People's Choice Award went to Michel Lepire, Marc's father, of Quebec for his "Prestine Nature."

"It was hard to choose just one," said Meghan Murphy, of Revere, Mass, who was one of thousands who voted for the People's Choice. "They are all so good, but I'm leaning towards the (sculpture of the) woman in the shoe. It made me laugh."

Karen Fralich's "There Was an Old Woman Who Sends Her Kids to Summer Camp" came in second, earning her $2,500.

Heavy downpours Friday night set several sculptors behind schedule as they had to do repairs Saturday morning.

Greg Grady Jr. had to do some reconstruction on his sculpture honoring the Boston Bruins goalie.

"We did a sand sculpture of the Stanley Cup (as part of the demo) and the fans loved it, so I said what the hell," said Grady, on why he wanted to sculpt Tim Thomas out of sand.

Sculptor Guy-Olivier Deveau, who often tries to make his art creepy and scary, didn't disappoint with his cryptic "Morphobia," which finished fourth.

The sculpture showed a female figure morphing into something else.

"It's called morphobia," Deveau said. "It's the words morphing and phobia put together. How would you feel if you woke up one morning and had a wing instead of an arm?"

Deveau said the Hampton Beach competition is one of his favorites.

"The people are great and the sand is pretty much the best to work with."

Last year, he won the Sculptors' Choice Award for his "Ravishing and Ravenous," which depicted a modern-day female warrior.

Cara Jara, of Lyndhurst, Ohio, was fifth place for his piece titled "Lamb."

It depicts an angelic young woman surrounded by words such as "poverty" and "racism."

"These (words) are all things that happen in life that you experience," Jara said on his work. "The lamb is the ultimate symbol of purity, devoid of sin, devoid of corruption."

While Marielle Heessels, of Rijen in the Netherlands, didn't place for her sculpture of a smiling woman, "Enlightenment," she said she has the best job in the world.

"Sculpting sand gives me the opportunity to travel the world, meet beautiful people and do what I love to do most, create sculptures and share them," she said.

For photos of the winning sculptures, visit

At a Glance:

Winners of the Hampton Beach Master Sand Sculpting Competition are:
First: Marc Lepire of Quebec, "Phase Shifter
Second: Karen Fralich of Ontario, "There Was an Old Woman Who Sends Her Kids to Summer Camp"
Third: Justin Gordon of Groveland, Mass., "And the Ride Among Us"
Fourth: Guy-Olivier Deveau of Quebec, "Morphobia"
Fifth: Carl D. Jara of Lyndhurst, Ohio, "Lamb"
People's Choice: Michel Lepire of Quebec, "Prestine Nature"
Sculptors Choice: Marc Lepire, "Phase Shifter"

"Attilio" Steve Topazio works to finish his sculpture during the 2011 Master Sand Sculpting Competition at Hampton Beach Saturday.
[Ioanna Raptis Photo]
Three-time first place winner, Carl D. Jara works on finishing his sand sculpture, "Lamb" in the 11th Annual Master Sand Sculpting Competition at Hampton Beach Saturday.
[Ioanna Raptis Photo]
Guy-Olivier Deveau etches detail into his sculpture, "Morphobia", during this year's Master Sand Sculpting Competition at Hampton Beach.
[Ioanna Raptis Photo]
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