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December 7, 2011 / Puneesh Suri

sand | art | joe mangrum | law

It was a relatively colder and quieter Friday afternoon at Washington Square Park. I was there for over an hour before I decided to go to Central Park. A good idea, I thought, would be to walk to the other side of the park and take the main exit. It’s amazing how sometimes instinct points the right way. On the exit was Joe Mangrum | The Sand Artist.

Surrounded by an awestruck audience of all ages between six and sixty, Joe was engrossed in creating his interpretation of The Universe Unfolding.

The two most fascinating aspects of this form of art are the posture and the medium of expression. The artist kneels down as if succumbing to the power of creation and creates unimaginable figures with sand that is collected from the Earth and then coloured.

Joe discovered his ability to conceive ideas at a very early stage of his life. He embarked upon his artistic journey with an oil painting that he made when he was eight years old. In 2006, he began his first experiment with coloured sand and has been creating masterpieces since then. Worthy of great appreciation are his four dimensional installations that are created using everyday objects such as auto parts, computer parts, food, money, bullets, flowers, fire and glass. He enjoys delving into this metaphorical world and expressing thoughts and things with colours and shapes that people can look and ‘wow’ at. Art to him is a direct expression of himself | a way of understanding the self better.

“You can’t really define art in a single sentence. It’s a multitude of people’s opinions, feelings and experiences.” | says Joe.

Bringing his work out to the park hasn’t really been too easy on the pocket for Joe. So far, he’s been issued four $1000 tickets, one $500 ticket & one $250 ticket for unlawful vending at Washington Square & Union Square. In his opinion, it is really disappointing that the city is taking this course of action and preventing artists from freely expressing themselves. These performers create art in visual, musical and other creative formats and it’s up to the onlookers whether or not they like to contribute. So much for adding colour to a grey jungle of concrete.

Well, that perhaps is law at its most | artistic.

For information and inspiration | visit




Leave a Comment
  1. proje(K)tor / Dec 24 2011 02:37

    His art is beautiful to the superior end of the word. It is astonishing how Joe Mangrum creates artwork enriched with color and design in a city which less appreciates it. Perhaps it may be some time until this version of sand on concrete canvas appeals to the city to look beyond it’s monstrous structures which are too made of sand and concrete, only hardened.

    A good discovery, ar[t]runk.

    yours truly
    -the proje(K)tionist.

  2. Tai Carmen / Dec 24 2011 14:49

    I can’t believe they are issuing this guy tickets! They should be thanking him! It’s such a far cry from vandalism, so obviously art that adds to the city. New York, I’m surprised and disappointed in you. But it’s awesome the artist keeps on! Great pictures and documentation. 🙂

    • Puneesh Suri / Dec 24 2011 21:40

      Yes, it is truly disappointing. It has now become a serious issue since it’s happening to a lot of performers in NY. And as life has it, not many can keep on keeping on.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  3. lesleehare / Feb 4 2012 01:20

    Wow! They wouldn’t issue tickets to the Tibetan monks, I bet! But then, they probably got a permit and all that other stuff that goes along with playing along with a 3D world… I wish Joe the best! His work is beautiful.

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