The great and legendary marine life artist known as Wyland is in the Keys working on restoring 3 of his famous whaling walls. Ka-pow!
Wyland's schedule of work and surrounding events have been well publicized in the Keys. He was in Key Largo for 2 days restoring the wall up there (we actually went up to watch him paint that wall a few years ago when he created it); he's in Marathon today and tomorrow, and then he's off to Key West to restore the wall on the old Waterfront Market. Being that today was Tuesday, it's a "Pop Day." As soon as I dropped off Pop, I headed straight to the whaling wall in Marathon. There was Wyland, up on a ladder, brush in hand, bucket of paint propped up. He was working. Painting. A crowd was around watching, taking photos, speaking with him. And, there was his entourage as well.... he has a large motor home that is a mobile educational facility. There were booths set up with some of his art (some originals!), a very large mural canvas set up as the Children's Wall, and of course The Turtle Hospital was on the scene with an educational booth AND sea turtle ambassador named Fisher. I parked the car, grabbed my camera, and joined the crowd. I listened. Wyland especially targets children for education when he travels. This is crucial in order for the future to be better than the past, or so is my own opinion. There was a group of children watching him as he worked. He never let much time lag on the conversation. Light banter. Laughter. Little "tests" for the kids (i.e.: what kind of turtle is this I'm painting? How do you know it's a loggerhead?") Those types of things. More laughter.
|Wyland, taking a little break to talk to the crowd.|
He makes it look so easy. He's a gifted man to say the least. He's painting with a very large brush on a very large brick wall. This is not painting on canvas or anything, and it's not using small artist brushes. Nope. There he is with basically what I'd use to paint my living room walls, and he's painting a loggerhead turtle like no one else. Bliss.
After a while, he posed for photos with the children, and escorted them over to the Children's Wall where they would create a mural. After, he returned to the Whaling Wall. As I was watching the action, I saw that Richie Moretti (Founder of The Turtle Hospital) was on site, so I went up to him to offer my condolences on the loss of Good Hope. Richie is a good man, a man who cares about "his" turtles seemingly as if they were children. I know he is feeling the loss of Good Hope deeply, as he feels any loss deeply. We spoke for a few minutes and then parted ways. I was going to leave, but then I noticed that Wyland was back at his wall getting ready to paint again. Almost no one was around him. I decided to take that moment to thank him for sharing his gifts with the world, and for using his time and energy to educate and be an activist. Well, wouldn't you know, he is a very modest man. He downplayed what he does---what he is doing--- as no big deal. Well, let me tell you it IS a big deal. It's a HUGE deal. We shook hands. It was a good moment. A VERY good moment.
|Here, Wyland encourages the children to give a thumb's up for oceans. Woo-Hoo!|
Being there watching Wyland work brought out many different feelings in me, actually it was very emotional. I looked at his art (so magnificent), I watched him interact with the crowd and the children. I studied his wall for quite a while (yes, I've studied it before too, and every time I go and really look at that wall, I never see the same thing twice). I almost wanted to cry, not because I was sad, but rather because I was happy. His work shines with absolute joy, optimism and beauty. He sees the ocean with infinite wonder, and his pieces seem to shimmer. How is that possible, shimmering. Shining. Simply with paint. I don't know, but he does it, and the work does. His joy reminds me to embrace the beauty we do have, and not allow myself to get mired down by the constant drain of our planet's environmental plight. Yes, that's important... that enjoyment, the spark that fuels the passion of environmental work! Wyland captures it. He captures it with a paintbrush and with the deep caring I saw in his beautiful eyes.
|The Children's Wall.|
Plans are to head down to Key West to watch him work on the Waterfront Market wall, and also go to the college on Thursday where he will be for an event. Tossed into this whole thing like a little (non-dairy) whipped cream will be a sea turtle release at Higgs Beach on Saturday at 2pm.
|Loggerhead in progress.|
This afternoon I came back here and sat on the beach staring at the ocean. I thought about a lot of things, and then nothing at all. Before I left my thinking spot, I gave silent thanks to Wyland for showing me through his eyes the beauty and wonder that is everywhere. Seems to me Wyland is restoring a lot more than a few whaling walls.