Seen one beach, seen them all? You, my friend, must not realize what awaits you at the Face Rock Wayside in Bandon, Oregon. There isn’t a seascape on canvas or photograph behind glass which can accurately hint at the splendor along this shoreline.
On an average day, the beach is a continuous spectacle as the ocean wraps itself around enormous sea rocks, determined to replenish tide pools and crevices where hordes of barnacles, muscles, starfish, anemones, and crabs amass. Seabirds do their best to fly against the bolstering wind, frolic across the sand, and float over-top of incoming waves. Sand, shells, and driftwood promise to keep beachcombers perpetually engaged.
And that is just an average day…There are times when the ante on beauty increases ten-fold. During the late spring and summer, a handful of artists and volunteers work between the tide tables to create Circles in the Sand. Working with rakes and grooming brushes, what this team creates is nothing less than amazing. Drawing labyrinths on shore with Zen-like allure, their enormous creations become walkabouts laced with intricate circles, tangled squares, and repetitive curves. Each design takes between 4-5 hours to create, lasts just long enough to delight dozens of walking visitors, then is serenely washed away with the incoming waters.
Founder and Labyrinth Artist Denny Dyke said this is the third year he has been creating in Bandon, mentioning that they have completed over 140 “Dream Fields” during that time. He and his detail artist, Christine Moehring, work with a handful of rotating volunteers who assist with sand grooming.
“I’m going to be 70 (years old) in September,” Dyke said, joking that he doesn’t plan to be drawing mazes on the beach forever. “I am beginning to look for a protégé. The right person may just show up one day. That person may be here, right now.”
The attraction to experience the maze is ageless, summoning to families, teens, and seniors to make the trek from the wayside viewpoint, down the rugged stairwell to reach beach level. The labyrinth appears graceful and fluid, a compliment to the natural terrain that it’s drawn upon. Small, colorful stones are offered to visitors as a token to help remember the moments spent meandering through the intertwining shapes and contours. The fresh sea air and the sound of the surf make it easy to become absorbed, looking mindfully down at your feet as they pass along gently engraved borders. Broad smiles, refreshing deep breaths, and relaxed shoulders may be present by the end of the path.
According to Dyke, Circles in the Sand has recently secured a non-profit status by connecting with a larger artists’ organization. This opens the door to accepting donations and other drawing venues. The summer schedule for Circles in the Sand can be found on Facebook and the Circles in the Sand website, along with the occasional call for volunteers to help on specific dates.