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San Francisco Ocean Beach Sand Art

by Emmet McDonagh

If you’ve been to the Cliff House area at the north end of Ocean Beach in the last 5 years or so you might’ve seen a large design carved into the sand just beneath the Cliff House. I found the art when I started leading the Land’s End: Sutro Heights tour in 2006.

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View from Sutro Park of Ocean Beach and Andres Amador’s designs.

Andres Amador, a San Francisco-based artist, is the mind behind the designs. He does most of his designs at this specific site so that people can see the whole design from Sutro Heights above and he can take pictures of his works of art there.

There are a few others like Andres that are pioneering a new art genre – crop circles in sand. The designs are made using just a few tools. After crafting designs from hand-drawn originals in his sketch book, Andres mostly uses ropes, rakes,

and stakes to carve the designs into the sand. Although few tools are needed, it’s a race against time before the high tide comes in and washes away the design. Andres decides what parts of the design should be shaded, and uses rakes to accomplish the shading by exposing the wetter, darker sand below. After about 2 hours the design is usually complete and Andres will often hang around to see how people react to his art.

When I led a private group tour in late May, we saw some of Andres’ work, but this time the beach art was on the other side, between the ruins of Sutro Baths and the Cliff House – what a treat!

• Photo courtesy of Emmet McDonagh.

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