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Denny Dyke's Walkable Art in Oregon

The sand artist and his Circles in the Sand team rake labyrinths onto the beach at Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint in Bandon, Oregon.

Circles in the Sand team grooms beach labrynth in Bandon, Oregon, picture
Photo credit
Photo: Pamela Hansen
Photo caption
Dyke’s pieces are meant to wash away eventually.

Sand artist Denny Dyke draws crowds to Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint in Bandon, Oregon, with labyrinths raked onto the beach. He estimates that 5,500 people walked the 65 spiral works he and his Circles in the Sand team created in 2016.

Why make labyrinths? They're traditionally a meditation tool, among other uses. Walking one is a time to be quiet, a few moments when you don't have to worry about where you're going.

How is a labyrinth different from a maze? The goal in mazes is to find your way out. They build anxiety, frustration. A labyrinth, with its slow turns, is just the opposite—a single path to (and sometimes through) the center and back out. No dead ends. You walk to the center to get resolution and affirmation, then bring it back out into your life.

How do you create one? After surveying the sand, I use a four-inch rake to start drawing. The detail designer follows my lead, the head groomer fills in voids, and up to eight guest groomers do shading to make the paths pop.

When can I walk a labyrinth? About every other week, I'll be drawing at Face Rock wayside. [See onepath.us for dates.] Visitors take about 15 minutes to walk the full labyrinth, which can be anywhere from a quarter to half a mile.

Is there a larger significance to your work? The rock formations are important to the region's Coquille people. I like to feel that what I do is my ministry. We also create labyrinths for weddings, birthdays, and other functions.

How do you feel when waves wipe out the art? I'm excited when it happens. And people continue to walk them even after part washes away. I look at it this way: It's job security.

This article was first published in Spring 2017. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.