Sculptures in Sand

By Arlene Pervin

The creations of Francisco Calvillo come from his imagination and personal connection to the spiritual world.

Calvillo works with few tools: a small piece of cardboard, a small pointed palette knife, a triangular cement trowel, and a few other miscellaneous items in his tool kit. Each sculpture takes 3-4 weeks to complete.

I watch as the artist stands at the edge of the platform base; there’s a five-foot drop to the rocks and beach below.

Francisco works like a dancer, so close to the edge. He says he knows where he is if he lets his heel extend just a little beyond the edge of the platform. It tells him where he is.

I watch as he adds a bit of wet, thick sand to an evolving part of the sculpture. Then, I watch him use a palette knife to shape the part he wants. Then, taking a straw out of his toolbelt, he blows away the excess sand like dust.

Francisco Calvillo has created over 150 sand sculptures and has competed in many international competitions since 2008. He received a degree in visual arts from the University of Guadalajara.

His latest sculpture is The Wizard and his Water Dragon. His artistic talent is evident in the details of his work. The Wizard stands at a towering height of 3 meters, taller than an ordinary man. He is draped in a garment with an embroidered collar, the folds of his garment forming an elegant drape in its simplicity.

On a braided cord, he wears a medallion around his neck with the design of three intersecting circles. The Water Dragon encircling the Wizard is formidable with his flowing mane, open mouth of razor-sharp teeth, large open eyes, and prominent scales. He seems to exude an almost protective energy, and one can feel the unity of The Water Wizard and his Dragon as the tail surrounds the Wizard.

According to the artist, wizards and dragons connect to the spiritual world.

For the artist, it is all about energy. The energy from the Dragon is released through the Wizard’s opened hand, returning to the universe. The triangular opening in the Wizard’s forehead portrays his openness to other worlds and allows the energy of the sun and light to act as a continuum.

The artist uses the initial sculpture and platform to further his creations, and the initial sculpture transforms into other images over time. Sometimes, he will create three different sand sculptures, transitioning from one sculpture and idea to another.

It takes a collective to make art and one afternoon, I watched another of the artists fill a backpack-type watering can with salt water from the bay. He strains it through a cotton kerchief. A thin metal rod is attached to the hand-pumped watering can. An attachment with a fine nozzle at the end of the extension rod sprays a fine mist.

The saltwater adds a hardening element and aids in preserving the sculpture. They mist the sculpture sometimes every twenty minutes and several times daily to maintain its form and keep it from drying out too much.

No matter how you interpret the details or see the sculpture, there is no denying the artistry and details in the work. It is a work that beckons you, drawing you in to gaze upon the expression on the Wizard’s face, to study the details, the wisdom in the eyes, the slightly open mouth, and the connective and circular energy in the whole piece.

Below the sculpture and beside the wooden boxes that say “Aportacion Voluntario, Voluntary Contribution, is the following message:

Este arte en arena solo tu lo haces posible con tus contribuciones. Gracias por tu apoyo.

“Only you make this sand art possible with your contributions. Thank You.”

I hope the public realizes the validity of the artist’s statement. Puerto Vallarta is very lucky to have such an exemplary world-class artist like Francisco Calvillo.



Most Popular