Meet the Artist: Lucinda “Sandy Feet” Wierenga
Sandcastles are an iconic art form for South Padre Island. In fact, it’s a part of the Island’s quality of life and a unique attraction to visitors. The City of South Padre Island Convention and Visitors Bureau is leading a sand sculptor project at the Visitor Center to rebuild the welcoming sandcastle and make improvements to the support structure and box to enable easier and regular maintenance of the iconic artwork.
We caught up with artist Lucinda Wierenga, though everyone on the Island and around the world knows her as “Sandy Feet,” to give us the scoop on her Visitor Center sandcastle, from inspiration to execution.
How did you get involved in this project?
I’ve wanted to carve this particular sculpture for many years and in fact, completed a similar sculpture at Sandcastle Days years ago capturing the key features of my hometown, which I love very much.
What are some of the key features of your sandcastle?
On one sandcastle, I’ll have a visitor “posing” in the shark’s mouth, highlighting a popular island photo spot. There will also be a sculpture of the “Whaling Wall” located at the SPI Convention Centre, the Queen Isabella Causeway and Sea Turtle Inc. The other sandcastle features the Port Isabel Lighthouse, the Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage, a Port Isabel dolphin statue, the Champion Building and the Yacht Club. To connect both sandcastles, there will be marine life sculptures inbetween both sculptures and it will continue around to the front of the Visitors Center building, highlighting some other South Padre Island features with some big welcome signs.
You have an ongoing project on the island with the Sandcastle Trail where there is about 38 sandcastle stops. What’s your vision for this project and could you tell us more about it?
I’m very excited about the Sand Castle Trail and what we’ll be doing over the next couple of months. We’re going to do a lot of maintenance work to ensure that the existing sculptures are updated and we’re also going to look at additional places on the island to add new sculptures. Our goal is to make the trail and sandcastle sculptures “bigger and better” so that visitors are excited about sandcastles and the Sandcastle Trail.
You have a lot of history with Sandcastle Days Festival. Could you tell us how event planning is going?
Sand Castle Days will be celebrating its 31st year in 2018. I’ve been involved with Sand Castle Days since the very beginning and I have a special and deep love for the event. Sand Castle Days is held the first weekend in October. We’re looking at possibly expanding the event with a double weekend and it’s great to have the city grow its support behind this event. I’m really exited about Sand Castle Days and can only see this event growing year after year and connecting it with the Sandcastle Trail, where visitors can enjoy year-round sandcastles.
In your own words, what is the place of sand sculpting in the lifestyle and fabric of South Padre Island?
Well, South Padre Island has been where I learned how to carve sand because we have such great sand for sandcastle building and we are very fortunate. What I love to do is expand the sand castle and sand sculpting reach because it’s such a great way to interact with the beach without destroying it or leaving any trash behind. You know, sandcastles fall down and the tide takes the sandcastles out. It’s a temporary art form; it’s a very fast art form; and everyone can participate in some way. It’s also great to see little kids… it’s the first thing they want to do – they want to start playing in the sand and you don’t have to stop even when you become an adult!
How often are you working on the Visitors Center sand sculpture?
I’ll be working five to eight hours a day over the next seven to eight days.
When do you expect the Visitors Center sandcastle completed?
Hopefully March 5. Because this sandcastle will be here for a while, I want to make sure I give it the attention it needs so it’s a sandcastle I can feel proud of as visitors and myself drive by.