By Brian Pape and Joy Pape
Among the many performers that frequent Washington Square Park on nice weekends, there are musicians, acrobats, athletes, and artists, all of whom make the Park a very special place.
One of the most colorful and fascinating performers is the sand artist, Joe Mangrum, whose temporary spontaneous works at the Park are also displayed on his website: joemangrum.com.
Joe’s works of art are often 10 or 12 feet across, in brilliantly- hued geometric patterns that may remind onlookers of Native American art, or Hindu works; Joe prefers to “improvise and make each a unique design that comes from the imagination.”
Joe arrives at the Park with bags of fine sand in brightly-colored hues, chooses an open pavement spot, often on axis with the Washington Memorial Arch, and starts to work his magic, one colorful handful of sand at a time. By the end of several hours of work, the design is so intricate and beautifully composed that one would think it was laid out on a pre-determined grid pattern and formula, rather than executed freehand. They are amazing to behold. By the next day, the art is gone with nary a trace; the wind will have blown it all away.
Joe grew up in Florissant, Missouri (near St. Louis), and now resides in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. He chose Washington Square Park because it’s a welcoming public space with visitors from all over the world that can appreciate the performance and the art.
When we asked Joe, “What made you go into this line of work?” he said that he wants “to communicate ideas with the public in a fun way, to allow people the opportunity to explore ideas expressed in a public forum and engage them in ways to both enjoy visual art (out of the context of galleries and museums), as well as think about their part in a balanced harmonious worldview.”
Come to the Park and watch the amazing performance of sand-painting, with Joe Mangrum!