Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The New York Times Called Him "The Johnny Appleseed of Environmental Art"

Roy Staab's work can be found near the breakwater in the West End, while it lasts.
A number of years ago I was strolling in the West End, and as I walked a little closer to the breakwater I saw that someone had stabbed long reeds into the tidal flats and then woven more reeds between them, forming a sort of free-standing sculpture of geometric shapes that seemed to float in the air a foot above the water. I watched as the tides rolled in and out over the next few days, variously exposing and then hiding this amazing creation as the water level rose above, and then dropped below, half-tide. After several days this sculpture began to break up a bit with each new tide, and eventually it disappeared altogether. A couple of years later another amazing sculpture appeared in this same spot and then slowly disintegrated with the tides, and over the years I have seen several of them, each one a different design.
For years i've been wondering who was coming into town and creating this amazing art in the open, at the edge of the wetlands. A few days ago I happened onto another one, freshly completed, and finally met environmental artist Roy Staab. He has traveled the world creating this large, open-air, public art in tidal flats, river basins and marshlands from one edge of the world to the other, using natural materials he finds and gathers in each area he chooses for the creation of his art.
Timing is important in seeing Roy's work at its most dynamic. Optimum enjoyment of his amazing sculptures can be had when the water level is low, but not all the way out at low tide. Having a little water covering the base of the vertical reeds, especially when the water is still, along with the sun being out, gives the best conditions for enjoying the work as the reflection of the shapes rests on calm waters. I was having trouble getting all these factors working together in the short time I have available for myself in the summer months, and I wanted to share this treasure with my readers, so Roy was kind enough to send me the photo above. The rosy, golden color on the loops of the horizontal reeds seem to be the deep colors you will only find when the sun is very close to the earth, near the time of sunrise or sunset.
Roy Staab at work on one of his giant reed sculptures.
Once I knew his name, I could look up Roy Staab's website, and there I found the image above in the form of a You Tube video of this still image with Will Walkers article from the 2012 Provincetown Arts magazine scrolling over the screen to a somewhat haunting bit of music. Here's a link to this Meandering Moment.
Roy created a sculpture in the Pamet while he was here as well. He left yesterday for Saunders Farm in Garrison, New York, where he'll be creating a work for the local Collaborative Concepts group. Roy says "Life is special and always fleeting and my art is as well." Visit the West End as soon as you can and reflect on this splendid, timeless bit of environmental art. It may not last much longer.


  1. My heart felt joy to see such a beautiful structure created in the west end moors. ... TY Roy Staab ...

    1. My sentiments exactly. We're about due for another great sculpture from Roy. He creates these works around the world, but seems to make it back to Provincetown every few years. Fingers crossed...

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