New York-based artist Joe Mangrum has spent the last 8 years drawing beautiful, hypnotic patterns and designs on the streets and squares of New York. But chances are you probably won’t see any of them, because they tend to disappear. Mangrum draws his impressive and expansive works by pouring brightly-colored sand from his hands. The circular geometric forms he uses, as well as his use of colored sand, makes his work resemble traditional Buddhist mandalas, but he also mixed in marine biological design elements along with other elements to give his work an extremely unique look. The artist writes that his, “Paintings are influenced by an abundant world of undersea creatures, carnivorous plants emanating electrical impulses, [and] cross-cultural metaphors from many years of travels around the world.”
Joe Mangrum graduated from The School Of Art Institute Of Chicago. After he graduated, he decided to travel for over four years, traveling through Europe and the United States.
After traveling the world, he decided to settle in Laguna Beach, California. It was here that he started to create these beautiful pieces of art.
While living in Laguna Beach, he decided to draw attention to the San Joaquin Hills Toll Road, which was in 1994.
The reason he felt drawn to this particular road is that the road would eventually divide one of the last major open green spaces in Orange County, California. And if you have ever been to Orange County, you know that open green spaces are hard to find.
Once he discovered his desire for environmental activism, he started to bring more attention to issues through public art.
He started to create art in the Main Beach Park in Laguna Beach. But every time he created art, the Parks Department would sweep it away.
This did not deter him. He continued to create art even if it continued to be swept up time and time again. After getting a little fed up, Mangrum paid the city council a visit during one of their meetings.
After a lot of discussion, the city council decided that he would need to provide $1 million worth of liability insurance because of his artwork!
Mangrum’s fight for art brought a lot of publicity, and the story was picked up by the LA Times. People were now discussing art, what it expresses, and also their right to protest in a peaceful manner.
With all of the publicity, Mangrum was invited to produce his first ever art show! This would take place at San Francisco State University in 1995.
After doing various art shows up and down the coast of California, Mangrum took residence in San Francisco.
Mangrum wanted to provide a safe environment for artists to work in, so he founded an alternative warehouse space which he called Facility 3. It was open from 1997 – 2003.
This space was used as a multi-use art studio and even space. He hosted a variety of talent to include Sean Hayes, DJ events, Burning Man events, and Bassnectar.
In 2003, Mangrum was awarded with The Lorenzo il Magnifico Award at the Florence Biennale in Italy.
It’s amazing that his art all started because he was protesting a road in California, and it just took off from there! Good for him for standing up for something he truly believed in. For more excellent example of art created with sand, check out these beautiful and impermanent works by Andres Amador.
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