From the sea, for the sea: Is that your missing flip-flop?

Washed Ashore Gallery in Bandon, Oregon
Trash collected from the beach becomes art at the Washed Ashore Gallery in Bandon, Oregon

The gallery is a “must-see” for visitors to the Oregon Coast.

Don’t let the colorful and whimsical creations at the Washed Ashore Gallery in Bandon, Oregon, fool you. The volunteers who run the organization aren’t trying to amuse you – they’re hoping to shock you with the reality that all of the components of the artwork on display were once on a nearby beach and perhaps in the ocean for years.

Since the organization began its work in 2010, volunteers have cleaned more than 300 miles of beaches, and 95 percent of the debris collected made its way into sculptures, literally “Art to Save the Sea.” The gallery is a must-see for visitors to the Oregon Coast.

Creating the art on display in Bandon required processing 38,000 pounds of debris and more than 14,000 hours of work by volunteers.

And although the artful creations are fun to see, the sad truth is that the next season’s beach-goers will leave more materials (read: trash) on the beach.

Perhaps you lost something yourself. Look closely at the giant sea tortoise – is that your missing green flip-flop on the side of its fin? Did the lid from your Styrofoam cooler make its way into the replica of a coral reef?

Of course, the medium is the message here. By raising awareness about the volume of materials that end up in rivers and the ocean and washes up on beaches, the organization hopes people will be more careful.

Permanent exhibits are in Bandon and at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (Sant Ocean Hall) in Washington, D.C. Traveling exhibits will reach people all across the country. These include:

  • Shedd Aquarium, Chicago, Illinois: through October 2018
  • Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, Sarasota, Florida: through June 15, 2018
  • Mounts Botanical Garden, West Palm Beach, Florida: through June 3, 2018
  • Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, New Orleans, Louisiana: July 25, 2018, to April 30, 2019

In Bandon, the Washed Ashore gallery is open Thursday through Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. It is at 325 2nd Street SE, Bandon, Oregon. For more information call 541-329-0317 or visit www. washedashore.org.

Washed Ashore Gallery, Bandon, Oregon