- Posted July 23, 2010 by
New York City, New York
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Losing unemployment benefits
Artist, Joe Mangrum - Getting Creative in Today's Job Market
- zdan, CNN iReport producer
Joe Mangrum is a true artist and one of the most creative and inspiring people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.
With only colored sand and a concrete canvas, Joe makes his living creating some of the most beautiful, colorful and visually stunning sand paintings around New York City. On any given day, you might find him creating his masterpieces in Union Square Park, Washington Square Park or other spots around the Big Apple. The best way to know where he will be popping up is by following him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/JoeMangrum or on Facebook: www.facebook.com/joe.mangrum.
He commutes to Manhattan from Brooklyn on the Q train, hauling 50 to 60 pounds of colored sand in a suitcase, up and down stairs and around the city until he finds his next canvas. He normally spends 8 to 9 hours a day, 5 days a week, creating his elaborate sand paintings which often grow to more than 20 feet in diameter and draw large crowds of awe-struck admirers. Then, at the end of the day, he sweeps it all up, collects the sand and leaves no trace that he was ever there.
Joe is primarily a painter. He attended the Art Institute of Chicago and after graduating, he traveled around the world and expressed his creativity through found objects, including auto parts, computer parts, food, money, bullets, flowers, fire and many other mediums which got him into installation art.
He had used beach sand in a number of his installations from doing drawings on the beach to bringing sand into the gallery but finding colored sand in 2006 changed everything.
It was his desire to get back into painting after about 12 years of making installations that got him interested in using color again. That is when he first discovered colored sand. He told me, "I have always wanted to be an artist since i was very little, taking lessons in oil painting at age 8 and pursuing art my whole life. I have, until this past year, always supported it by doing other jobs like working in construction, creating custom furniture or being a finish carpenter."
A combination of events and personal losses in the spring of 2009 led him to take his art to the street. In the spring of 2009 his mother passed away and a good friend of his drowned in San Francisco. He made a sand painting for his friend's memorial and was inspired to push his work further. When he found himself jobless in 2009, he took his sandpainting to the streets of New York City to see what would happen. It has worked out well and he is now out there five days a week, earning a living.
Creating art is Joe Mangrum's passion. Although sand painting is his primary focus right now, he also enjoys expressing himself in many different mediums. He is starting to produce more permanent works of art on panel and making prints and books, which he has for sale on his website: www.joemangrum.com.
It's a hard job market right now, but with a little determination, passion and creativity, anything is possible. Losing a job may be traumatic and downright scary, but it can also be a blessing in disguise by allowing us the freedom to pursue our dreams that we might not otherwise have had the time to pursue.
"I can make these designs in fused glass in terrazzo/colored concrete and I have some surprises up my sleeve." he said. Joe will be participating in Art Prize, which is in Grand Rapids Michigan, in September. It is an international competition where an artist who gets the most votes will win $250,000 and there are other prizes as well. He hopes to make a giant sand painting that will take a week or more to complete. I will definitely be looking forward to that creation.
Photos and video by Lulis Leal
except #9 (The finished creation) - by Joe Mangrum
Music: Neo Western by Kevin MacLeod (Royalty Free Music)