Tuesday, January 1, 2013

It is a new year and we have seen our share of snow, ice and flu and stuffy noses and drool on our faces after a night after Ny Quil. It is time to get away and feel the hot sun on our faces. So, let’s go somewhere where there is surf and sand bikinis and brew. Girls and guys gone wild. No thank you . Been there done it and now sick of it. But now they tell me there is sculpture in Cancun too. Well, then since there is something different there, maybe I should visit the place again. Just for the sculpture. Right.
There is an art museum of sorts there underwater. It is called MUSA Museo Subacuatico de Arte in Spanish. It is an eerie world of sculpted people under water on the sea floor with sea life adding details to the faces like sea weed flowing hair on the figures. Do you want new for the new year? This is new that you have never seen before. While there is sexy drunken partying going on above the sea there is a tranquil village of sculpted people in the sea for you to see up close and personal.
One day you can see schools of fish darting about the figures and the next day only lobsters crawling all over them. Jason deCaires Taylor is an English sculptor specializing in the creation of contemporary underwater sculptures which over time develop into artificial coral reefs and is the creator of what you need to see in Cancun. They are 25 feet below the surface.
The project started when 2 hurricanes devastated the area’s coral reefs. Almost a half million people visit Cancun, a small area of Mexico every year. How do you keep all those tourists away from the coral so they can grow again undisturbed? Closing off the reef areas would devastate the tourism business. Roberto Diaz, the President of Apple World, the leader in tourist adventures wanted to sue the government for ruining his business but then a solution was discussed and put into place.
What happened was a all to rare collaboration between art, business and government. Thus, a 200 sculpture project was born where over 200 local Mexicans posed to have a life sized statue of their likeness made of them. Taylor sculpted people from Nuns to a Victoria Secret model. The sculptures are made from an ultra hard concrete that is 20 times stronger than normal concrete.
After they were installed on the sea floor the ocean took over. It brought life to the art by sticking life forms to the concrete. Men have beards of algae and women have seaweed hair. There is even a table and chairs with a sculpted fruit bowl there for you to sit for a moment if you like. If you don’t like carrying a tank on your back there is a section of the museum that is only 9 feet deep underwater to be made accessible to people who snorkel. It includes underwater sculptures of cars and other things to find.
It is a fabulous way for people to change their attitudes towards the ocean and towards the reefs. I am sure there is a business rush to create these underwater art forms in all tropical touristy paradises all over the world. I wish I could get in on the projects. Roberto Diaz the tourist excursion guy is very happy now because the museum has actually increased curiosity and tourism to the area. After all, all those people on the hot sand have to get out of the sun and get sober eventually and do something else for a change.
Divers now are spending 40% of their time looking at the sculptures away from the fragile coral reefs. So, success for everyone and most of all no lawsuits against the government of Cancun. Now sea life and sculpture are having their own party. Call it art gone wild. Try it you might like it. Be happy in this new year.

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