While roaming the DEMA Show 2016 convention floor, DeeperBlue.com caught sight of the Art Innovation Center in gigantic Booth #7231. Combining an information station with a gallery display of fine art and a live studio, the area is home to the Ocean Artists Society. With over 400 conservation-minded artist members whose maritime-themed paintings, photos, and sculptures were on display, the society’s aim is to use their art to speak together with one voice about important issues facing the world’s oceans.

They put out two magazines and two films each year, all following a loose theme. Summer 2016 was dedicated to Fresh Water, and for the winter they’ll be focusing on Polar Seas. For DEMA 2016, the OAS set up an interactive art exhibit — a collaborative painting with different artists each adding a fish here or a dolphin there. This DeeperBlue.com writer may have offered a little fried egg jelly of her own.

Membership is invitational, with new artists put up for consideration on the recommendation of a current member. Take a look at the Ocean Artists Society’s mission and their artwork at oceanartistssociety.org.

One of the founding members of the OAS, world-renowned fine artist Wyland was on-site doing live paintings and discussing his work. Dynamic and busy, this is a man with many irons in the fire. As we spoke, he continued working on an over-sized canvas sporting a massive octopus rendered in homage to Van Gogh’s The Starry Night. To one side of the studio there was a collection of mixed-media sculptures on plain white pedestals. These featured sea creatures suspended mostly submerged in crystal-clear lucite sculpted to look like water, including a mermaid with her tail curving upward to break the surface, and a pair of turtles caught in a breaking wave.

Wyland painting a canvas at DEMA Show 2016
Wyland painting a canvas live at DEMA Show 2016

Most of the sculptures on-site at the show are maquettes, Wyland explained, for an ambitious twenty-five year project that will place a hundred monumental sculptures in a hundred cities around the world. Choosing his subjects from among aquatic creatures on the IUCN’s Red List of threatened species, he’ll use stone, bronze, recycled materials, and other media to create larger-than-life sculptures for select cities that are willing to care for them and to donate the land on which they sit in perpetuity. In the case of ten of these great works, the land in question will be under water.

“Public art marks a great city,” he told us, as he switched his attention to yet another piece of his work — this time, it was the song playing on the boombox next to his canvas.  “That’s me,” he said, explaining that what we were listening to was an original composition and performance of a blues tune he wrote for the Netflix show Blue Planet, which was narrated by Her Deepness, Sylvia Earle.

Always keen to expand into new media and technology, Wyland is partnering with Sherwood Scuba to create a limited-edition line of scuba cylinders featuring his original artwork. To launch his new “Catalina By Wyland” collection, the artist painted a tank live at DEMA 2016 to auction off for his conservation organization the Wyland Foundation.

Scuba tank painted by Wyland at DEMA Show 2016
Scuba tank painted by Wyland at DEMA Show 2016

The proceeds from the sale of this unique item, plus a portion of each limited edition Catalina cylinder will go to support educational outreach to help the children of today learn about our precious oceans in hopes that by stoking their passion for the ocean, we can inspire them to create the solutions of tomorrow.

See more of Wyland‘s work at wyland.com or visit wylandfoundation.org to find out what’s new in ocean conservation.

Erin Durbin-Sherer

Erin began diving in 2012 as preparation for a trip to Hawaii and before the year was out she’d left her old life behind to work in the dive industry full-time. When she’s not out exploring the deep and collecting c-cards, you might find her making art or working on her master’s thesis in cultural anthropology at San Diego State University. Erin is an Associate Editor with DeeperBlue.com.

1 COMMENT

  1. What a fabulous organization. Healthy oceans are so critical to maintaining our beautiful and vulnerable sealife. My friend Mary Sayre is a perfect example of someone who depicts this beauty in her various art forms. I have had the privilege of sharing her love of the ocean and its inhabitants.

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