Crop Art Founder Designing Mural in Beach Haven

Feb 28, 2018
Landscape artist Stan Herd

Organizers of the Lighthouse Film Festival are working with Beach Haven officials to bring internationally renowned landscape artist Stan Herd to town to design an acre of land at one of the borough’s parks as part of the festival’s 10th anniversary celebration.

“We were enthusiastically embraced by Beach Haven,” Christine Rooney, managing director of the festival, said. “They have the green space and the resources to make it happen.”

Although the plan is in the preliminary stages, Herd could be on the Island by mid-April and have his design in place in time for the 10th annual Lighthouse Film Festival, according to Rooney. He has designed landscape murals in Cuba, China and Brazil.

He uses plants and vegetation native to the area, she said, so the cost of maintaining the installation isn’t prohibitive for local communities. Still, she said, it’s not a garden but a piece of art.

Herd, whose first two landscape designs were the 160-acre portrait of Kiowa War Chief Satanta and Will Rogers in his native Kansas, is considered the “Father of Crop Art.” He has designed and installed 35 earthworks in more than four decades, including a 1994 project, “Countryside,” an image of a pastoral Kansas landscape on an acre of property owned by Donald Trump in New York City.

It was an independent movie of this work, 2006’s “Earthwork,” starring John Hawkes as Herd, that introduced the famed landscape artist to the Lighthouse Film Festival and helped built a relationship that has spanned nearly a decade.

“I have gravitated to the idea that the earthworks need to be more than just something to look at … that the background story of mankind’s relationship to the earth, in agriculture, and in stewardship of pristine nature, is what the act of creating the work is about,” he said in a 2015 interview with Modern Farmer. The works he added, also “evolve with community and a larger group of people who all take something away from the time spent together.”

His work, according to his website, has become a platform for the discussion of culture, art, the environment and man’s historical relationship to the land.

“It elevates the appreciation of open and green spaces,” Rooney said, adding the landscape installation could help put the Long Beach Island arts community on a broader map, though it does hold its own already.

Festival organizers had previously considered the undeveloped, borough-owned public land just north of the Island Branch of the Ocean County Library on Central Avenue in Surf City for the project. Officials there were slated to have their attorney review the request because the land is public, and they were unsure whether they would have to go out to bid. When Beach Haven showed an interest in bringing Herd on board, Rooney gladly accepted.

“We are very fortunate we have such a supportive community,” she said. “We haven’t raised ticket prices in 10 years because of that support.”

Gina G. Scala


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