BANDON — The public is invited to celebrate as an unusual art exhibit of sea life made from ocean debris officially opens at the Harbortown Events Center in Old Town Bandon.
The grand opening reception will begin at 5 p.m. Saturday, March 23, at  the center, located at 325 Second St. S.E.
The Washed Ashore educational exhibit has more than 15 art pieces, some up to 15 feet long, depicting sea life and environments threatened by ocean pollution. The exhibit also includes the nation’s only-known marine debris museum with interesting artifacts collected from Pacific shores, including debris from the Chinese Olympics.
The unique ocean debris art has been created by local volunteers in community workshops led by long-time educator and artist Angela Haseltine Pozzi, Washed Ashore’s executive director.
The grand opening reception will include a speech by Bill Bradbury, former Oregon secretary of state and Washed Ashore board member. Also speaking will be Bandon Mayor Mary Schamehorn. There will be complimentary refreshments, food and live music by local band Done Deal.
Pozzi will speak briefly about the Washed Ashore project and how local volunteers have created the internationally famous touring exhibit which has previously appeared at the Oregon Coast Aquarium, The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, Calif., The Living Coast Discovery Center in Chula Vista, Calif., and the Newport Visual Arts Center in Oregon. Pozzi also will lead tours of the exhibit and workshop and discuss the process of how the sculptures are made.
“These giant sea animals of debris are meant to be highly visual reminders of the tragedy of plastic pollution in our oceans and its effect on our sea life,” Pozzi said. “Community-built sculptures like these use the arts as a powerful language to drive home the message that we all need to take action.”
“We invite Coos County citizens and visitors to help us build the next sculptures of sea horses, penguins, a shark and an octopus. We encourage volunteers to collect debris from beaches and drop off their bags anytime at Art 101, seven miles south of town, and join us for the Oregon’s Spring Beach Clean-up day on March 30,” added Pozzi. “We are planning on using as much debris as we can get to create more messages that can save the sea.”
In the last 21⁄2 years, Washed Ashore has collected more than eight tons of debris from local beaches and created more than 22 sculptures that have toured to eight locations in Oregon and California.
“With tsunami debris approaching, we encourage anyone who cares about our beaches and oceans to support our work,” Pozzi said. “Tax- deductible donations of any amount can help us buy steel and wire supplies, buy fuel for truckloads of debris to be hauled off beaches, and keep our free workshops going.”
Washed Ashore is actively involved in planning for the Japanese tsunami debris clean-up. It is a founding member of the Oregon Marine Debris Team and works closely with nonprofit partners Oregon Shores/Coast Watch, SOLVE, Surfrider Oregon Chapter and OSU’s Oregon Sea Grant to address Japanese tsunami marine debris. The OMDT also works with the Oregon Tsunami Debris Task Force, NOAA, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Oregon State Parks, and the Office of Emergency Management.
In addition to the grand opening and reception, Washed Ashore invites everyone to take part in volunteer family workshops at Bandon’s Harbortown Events Center from 2 to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and on Tuesday and Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m., and  Saturdays from 2 to 5 p.m. at Art 101, seven miles south of Bandon on U.S. Highway 101.
About Washed Ashore
The Washed Ashore Project  is sponsored by Artula Institute for Arts and Environmental Education, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was founded in 2010. Washed Ashore is an environmental education project that uses art to raise awareness to the tragedy of plastic pollution in our oceans through community involvement. It has taken hundreds of volunteers and thousands of pounds of marine debris to create the monumental sculptures that now make up the Washed Ashore exhibits. In addition to the art workshops, Pozzi and her staff are developing activity books and a K-12 curriculum for youth education programs.
For more information contact Frank Rocco, Washed Ashore development director, 415-847-1239 or FrankRocco@WashedAshore.org

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