Art Installation Made Out of Trash Cleaned Up in Lake Tahoe Unveiled

A remarkable art installation, “Surfaced,” has been unveiled, showcasing the creativity of artists and the environmental efforts to clean Lake Tahoe. Commissioned by the Tahoe Fund and supported by Tahoe Blue Vodka, this sculpture, created from over 450 pounds of items recovered during a 72-mile scuba cleanup of Lake Tahoe last year, aims to educate and inspire environmental stewardship. It was revealed at its permanent home, the Tahoe Blue Event Center in Stateline, Nevada, on Lake Tahoe’s south shore.

The sculpture, designed by internationally recognized artists Joel Dean Stockdill and Yustina Salnikova, represents a bald eagle, Lahontan cutthroat trout, and Ponderosa pine tree, chosen by public vote. These artists, known for creating art from recycled materials, spent a year meticulously crafting the design. They selected litter found beneath Lake Tahoe’s surface, including lures, sunglasses, paddles, traffic cones, chains, anchors, and rubber edging, to construct the sculpture.

“Lake Tahoe’s beauty not only inspired me to move to California, but to create Tahoe Blue as well,” said Matt Levitt, Founder of Tahoe Blue Vodka. “From day one, I’ve been committed to conservation and am incredibly proud of what the 72-mile scuba cleanup effort accomplished. And now this amazing artistry, constructed of litter pulled from Lake Tahoe, will serve as a reminder of what a small group of dedicated individuals can accomplish and bring full circle that mission to preserve.”

The artists faced the challenge of choosing items that could withstand weather and time while accurately capturing the animals’ features. They used white paddles for the eagle’s tail feathers, mosaic techniques for the trout’s scales using plastic from sunglasses, lures, and bobbers, a traffic cone for the trout’s fins, and hundreds of feet of chain for the Ponderosa pine tree’s bark. The sculpture, weighing nearly 700 pounds in total, features a three-foot-tall and three-foot-diameter Ponderosa pine tree stump.

“We are honored and excited to see this litter-art sculpture become a part of our community here in South Lake Tahoe. It is meant to serve as a symbol to the public to remember to be stewards of our lands and our lake, and to never stop trying to make a difference,” said Clean Up The Lake founder and CEO Colin West. “Our dive team will be under the surface of Lake Tahoe all winter this year, working to do a more thorough cleaning of litter hotspots, performing deep dive exploratory surveys, and monitoring for any presence of aquatic invasive species around the lake.”

Visitors can now admire “Surfaced” at the Tahoe Blue Event Center, a 5,000-seat arena with additional meeting room space in Stateline, Nevada. The center will host various events throughout the year, including concerts, sporting events, conferences, banquets, and more.

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