Dawne Still pretty much operates on a motto dictating that today’s treasure remains only to be found.
Still, a Port St. Joe resident, has for years created art from the ephemera of life: taking discarded objects, what many might characterize as trash, and transforming them into pieces of art which dominate her home.
Take most any object, attach creativity and complete with Gorilla Glue, Still will attest, and what is left is beauty from, well, not so beautiful.
Michael not only provided a new canvas, but a new source for inspiration and, Still hoped, another path to rebuild.
“When I looked at the beach I saw an art store,” Still said of those weeks immediately after Michael. “Anything you can pick up, you can make something beautiful out of it.
“I saw a turtle on a log and wondered why I couldn’t recreate that (scene).”
Daily, Still began making excursions to the beach, weather permitting, collecting what she could find, from plastic straws to fiber optic cable.
She pondered creative uses for the disparate “treasure” she located, hoping to maintain an overall marine theme of “octopus’s garden.”
That theme could provide several characteristics to Still’s work.
One, as Still noted, octopuses in effect create their own gardens as their tentacles sweep along everything in their path as the creatures travels the deep.
Secondly, the term “octopus’s garden” conjures images of a certain musical band and a time and place that further illustrates the generation from which Still evolved.
“In the 60s, we really believed we could change the world,” Still said.
When some artist friends bemoaned the loss of the some of the shops that sold shells and trinkets that are de rigueur in coastal vacation spots, Still would silence them with her new vocation.
“The beach is still out there and it is still a beautiful natural world for us,” Still said.
And, there are also layers to this effort beyond glittering baubles.
For starters, Still would like to redirect minds and viewpoints away from the damage Michael inflicted.
The road back might be long, Still added, but it is there, with its new adventures, to be taken.
“Everybody is still so caught up in the destruction,” Still said. “It will never be the same, we are going to change.
“Why not consider the new possibilities?”
While hoping to divert attention from Michael and its aftermath, there is also a bit of a mentoring involved, a desire by Still to provide a method to shake off some post-storm funk.
“I am trying to inspire people,” Still said. “You never know where you will find treasure. Everybody would do something like this.
“We’re treasure hunting for trash.”
Finally, there is an ecological component, a direction and awareness toward cleaner beaches that adds a dab of fun, and, who knows, decoration for the home.
“Why not start a trend and we’ll clean the beach at the same time,” Still said. “And it’s all free, everything you find out there is free and we are cleaning it off the beach. That’s a win-win.
“There is always something to find on the beach. And (the artworks) are a piece of the beach so when people buy them they are taking a piece of the beach with them.”
Still plans to take the next step with her “treasure” concept.
She has identified two of her beach art pieces that she will bury on the beach, at yet-to-be-specified coordinates and location.
Still said she plans to announce the burying in the coming weeks to spark a treasure hunt she hoped will have plenty of participants.
“It’s to try to help local businesses,” Still said. “A real treasure hunt for objects buried in a bag on the beach.
“I thought that would be a cool way to continue this project, to have a treasure hunt.”