February 14, 2021

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Yesterday I was cruising Solana Beach on my new E-Bike, thanks to my son-in-law, Ryan, who hooked me up with a great deal from Laguna Beach Bums. It was a spectacular day and a super-low tide.

Wait a minute. As I write this, I realize this may be misconstrued as gloating by my friends and colleagues battling snow, ice and super-cold temps across most of the country. I want to assure you….

Sorry, Hilary is going on a beach walk and wanted to know if we still had any extra-strength sunscreen. Where were we…

Oh yeah, I was cruising past the tide pools at that part of the beach we locals call Table Tops when I noticed some etchings on a large swath of sand. I stopped for a closer look

The style looked familiar. I noticed a young man in the distance with a rake. I rode over to where he was working. I called out, “Excuse me. Are you with Andres Amador?”

He looked up, said “Yeah,” and pointed to a man in a wide-brimmed hat who was inspecting some of the young man’s work. It was Andres.

Andres Amador

I’ll be damned if it wasn’t a couple days shy of one year ago that I first stumbled upon Amador’s artistic excellence at the very same spot at Table Tops. Another super low tide. I was walking. I posted a story about that first chance encounter with Andres.

As Andres finished talking to his colleague (and correcting some of his work), I waved and caught his eye. “I love your work! I met you last year at this spot when you created Guided Chaos.”

Guided Chaos by Andres Amador, February 2020

He smiled and came over, no doubt bedazzled by my slick ride. We visited for a couple of minutes. Andres said this was his first time back in San Diego since he did Guided Chaos. “The pandemic has gotten in the way of my ability to travel the world in search of new projects, but I’m still creating when and where I can.”

I asked him the title of the work-in-progress. “I don’t know yet, but here’s what we’re going for.” He showed me a photo on his phone. The glare of the blazing sun obscured the screen, but what I could make out looked amazing. We fist bumped and he went back to work.

I rode back to Table Tops about an hour later to view the completed work. I walked up the steps to the lifeguard tower overlooking the beach–like I did when I filmed Guided Chaos–for a more panoramic view. I am bemused by the folks who walk or ride right through his work looking at their smart phones or chatting away with a friend oblivious to the beauty literally beneath their feet.

I seriously considered mentioning to Andres that he has some stiff competition when it comes to sand art on the north San Diego County beaches. I was going to ask him if he knew Sharon Belknap, but I thought the odds were pretty low.

It’s “interesting.” I was introduced to Sharon by a mutual friend last July, two weeks after her son, Christopher, was killed on his motorcycle riding to work as a firefighter in Valley Center. I had checked out her Facebook page and was awestruck by her etchings in the sand at the inlet at Cardiff beach only a half mile north of Table Tops. She had created this pure, radiant expression of pure love for her son a couple of days after his death.

Sharon Belknap In The Light Cardiff Beach

The first thing I sent Sharon was the Here Today… story and my intro to sand art by Andres Amador.

I suppose the real reason I didn’t mention Sharon to Andres–Andres, an unbelievably gifted artist who has rightfully earned world-wide acclaim–is because, well…I like Sharon’s art better. Her creations are warm, deeply emotive and inspiring. They exude love.

Oceanside Love, by Sharon Belknap
You are Loved, by Sharon Belknap
What If, by Sharon Belknap

I’m blessed to have crossed paths with these two amazing sand artists. Thank-you Andres Amador and Sharon Belknap for opening our eyes to so much creativity and beauty.

5 responses to “HE’S BACK….”

  1. AvatarBob Daniels says:

    Hey Casey! I love the story and photos and videos. Thanks for sharing. The small cliffside shack in the parting shot of Andres Amador at Table Tops video brings me warm memories. Sherry and I spent nights there. It was owned by a good friend. Not sure he still owns it or not. It’s one of a kind. I’m kinda surprised it has survived the past couple of decades. I’m happy it has. Bobby

    • Casey GaunttCasey Gauntt says:

      Hi Bobby- so glad you like the story and spotted that house! As you know that bluff is crumbling away fast and it’s a miracle anything remains there. Sending you lot’s of love. Casey

  2. AvatarZalan says:

    I guess you’ve been missing out on running into me hahaha….if you consider Sharon to be the local competition to Andres (and no I absolutely don’t say this to be belittling Sharon’s sand drawing efforts)
    My style and drawing sizes are just more on par with Amador.
    @zalansz on Instagram

    • Casey GaunttCasey Gauntt says:

      WOW!! Your art IS amazing! I’ll keep an eye peeled for you. I’ve got an electric bike so I can cover a lot more beach. Ha! Thanks for reaching out and turning me on to your beautiful work. Casey

  3. AvatarHaider says:

    I love the story and images i also watch your video

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Author Bios

Write Me Something Beautiful Authors - Casey and Jimmy Gauntt

Casey Gauntt

is a retired attorney and former senior executive of a major San Diego real estate company. He lives in Solana Beach, California, with his wife, Hilary. Casey grew up in Itasca, Illinois, graduated Lake Park High School in 1968, and received B.S., JD and MBA degrees from the University of Southern California.

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Jimmy Gauntt

was born and raised in Solana Beach and graduated from Torrey Pines High School in 2002.   A prestigious Trustee Scholar at the University of Southern California, he majored in English and Spanish. He authored six plays, five screenplays, and a multitude of poems and short stories. Beginning in 2010, the USC English Department annually bestows the Jimmy Gauntt Memorial Award—aka “The Jimmy”—to the top graduates in English.  Jimmy passed over to the other side in 2008 at age 24.

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