By Rachael Katz, Special to the Independent
The San Clemente street artist knew just where to go for found objects to include in his latest mural, “Message in a Bottle.”
The artist strolled his favorite stretch of sand to find detritus left behind by thoughtless beach-goers and litter plucked from tr
ashcans by marauding seagulls. The result of his beach-combing is on display now at the Sawdust Festival.
“I then placed, stapled, real trash I collected from San Clemente and Laguna Beach within the painted bottles to add a unique effect to the mural, which also displayed the reality of the pollution problem,” Bandit explained.
This mural was created to highlight pollution’s impact on people and the planet, and the process had to be done a certain way in order to get the message across. “We want the art as a motivational tool and to promote awareness,” said Adam Casper, a Laguna Beach resident and producer of the mural.
Casper proposed the project to Bandit, who he met at a street artist residency program in San Clemente. The artist who uses the pseudonym Bandit jumped at the opportunity to create a mural on the Sawdust Festival grounds and decided on the theme as a great way to spread a message.
“The process for me was challenging at first. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say through my art,” said Bandit, whose work and murals reflect social and political themes. After watching the 2016 documentary “Plastic Ocean” and picking up trash along the beach regularly, the composition of “Message in a Bottle” started to come together for Bandit.
Casper and Michael Thorstensen, a Sawdust Festival board member, presented the mural idea to the rest of the Sawdust board and then to the city’s Arts Commission on Tuesday, May 16.
“It’s been great working with Adam to make this donation to the Sawdust Festival,” said Thorstensen. The project was underwritten by Casper. The mural’s panels were put up at night to keep it hidden and unveiled when fully finished on Saturday, June 24, a few days before the art festival opened for the summer.
Casper says he actually had the design sketched on a napkin when he was presenting it to the Arts Commission. The main goal of this project is to create an environmentally conscious lifestyle for generations to come, he said. “We are responsible for many of our own pollution problems,” said Casper, who walks the beach daily with his dog and is constantly stooping to scoop trash from the sand and ocean.
“I want to make sure somebody really gets it, and motivate people to take action,” said Casper.
He has previously worked on similar projects with other street artists such as England-based artist Banksy, Rolland Berry and Ben Eine, who created two wall-sized murals in Laguna Beach in 2015 that have since been covered over.
Casper also assisted with Berry’s mural “Headdress,” a mural placed on the exterior facade in the same location as “Message in a Bottle” at last year’s Sawdust Festival.
“I wanted to paint something beautiful to look at yet carrying a strong message which was universal,” said Bandit.
“I hope to awake the new generation and encourage respect towards our planet. I hope for the mural to spark even one person to commit to change in their treatment towards the environment,” said Bandit.