A Close-Up of The Sand Sculpture Artists

By Joseph Prezioso

On the clean sands of Revere Beach where tons of fine granite sand were dumped, sculptures are popping up. The sculptures are part of the 2016 Revere Beach Sand Sculpting Festival, which brings in artist from around the world, and locally, to compete in one of the nations top sand sculpting festivals.

Saturday through Wednesday found the sculptors working on the centerpiece of the festival, a giant sculpture that dwarfs all other sculptures and created with the theme of science and technology, featuring a Space Shuttle, steam engine and other technological breakthroughs of the past 150 years.

Every sculptor had their own part to work on, even some side sculptures that included sponsors and organizers of the festival.

Paul and Remy Hoggard worked on the Geico Insurance sponsor’s sculpture.

“I am just doing the backdrop to the Geico sculpture,” said Paul Hoggard as he laid on the ground and dribbled wet sand onto piles of sand in the shape of Christmas trees.

“I’m building a little hill behind the bus, and then the road will go around the hill and right now I am just making some dribble trees. They are pine trees.”

“This is the first thing kids do on a beach, “ said Hoggard. “You take some very wet sand and then you move your fingers really quick and little droplets of wet sand drop onto each other and it give the effect of little trees. Its the dribble technique. Its the very first thing all children do in the sand.”

As good as Hoggard is with this technique, as he creates a valley of trees, he did not invent it. “I know a guy, who lives in America, his name is Amazing Walter. He’s the father of sand sculpting and he invented the dribble technique, and not only that, but sand (laughing).”

Hoggard talked in length about children learning to make castles and how he fell in love with the art. “Children start with shells, and I used to use lolly pop sticks and my hands.” Today Hoggard and the other artist they use many more tools, including baking tools, shop tools, custom made tools and even horse hair brushes.

Sculpting sand was not only his childhood passion but its also how he met his wife, on a pile a sand. “A sand sculpture brought as together. I begged her to marry me for ten years and finally she agreed and made me a happy man.”

Working just a few meters from Hoggard was local Saugus resident Deborah Barrett-Cutulle, who has teamed up this year with Steve Topazio of Rhode Island to work in the doubles category. For now they were working on the sponsor signage spots on the centerpiece.

“I am the only local female here. The only immediate local,” said Barrett-Cutulle. “This is only my second year competing, but I have been here since the beginning, the past 12 years.”

“We have been working on sketches together, Steven and me,” said Barrett-Cutulle. “Both of us have been tossing around ideas right up to the last minute. Its constantly evolving.”

“Debbie has been showing talent ever since she started doing this. Just look to her work (he points to lettering she is working on as part of the centerpiece sculpture), said Steve Topazio. “Her artistic ability, as far as illustrating and drawing, is way beyond my talent, and I went to school for that.”

This year also brings sadness and possibly more passions and drive to Barrett-Cutulle’s creation. Her brother passed away a few months ago. “He’s with me this whole event. He is with me.” She now wears a temporary tattoo of the number twenty-two on her shoulder. Twenty-two was his lucky number. “You might see a twenty-two in there (her sculpture) somewhere.”

They won’t reveal what they plan to build, but you will be able to see the final creating this weekend.

“I think we are going to kick some butt with this one,” said Topazio as they got back to work.

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