Yesterday work resumed toward removing the cottages on Long Beach West. Demolition had been halted since April 15 due to the shorebird nesting season. But over the summer, the ghost town saw some new residents: vagabond artists who made the desolation of the place their canvas.
Ben Wolf, 27, the organizing member of the artist brigade, said the project is worth the application of the more than 30 gallons of paint used thus far, despite the sealed fate of the dilapidated ghost town.
“Life is ephemeral,” he said. “Art in a gallery only lasts for one month, but the chance of this lasting longer than a month is at least possible.”
Caledonia Curry, 32, Wolf’s girlfriend, said the natural landscape at Long Beach West is a force of inspiration for many artists in the retreat.
“There is something unexpected about being here near the sea,” she said. “It’s a little bit of a paradise, but at the same time you get the juxtaposition with the broken cottages. …”
Skinny-dipping, star-gazing and storytelling occupy the artists’ downtime. But often, they work all day and use flashlights to continue into the night.
Camping on the beach? Co-ed skinny-dipping? Dude! Why didn’t anybody call me?
Anyway, I hustled out there to take some photos of the art before it was gone. I wasn’t surprised to find the po-po stationed at the beginning of the construction road going through the dunes. I asked an officer about the artists. He said they didn’t know how long the artists had been camping on Long Beach West but the place was deserted now. He also said a lot of people had recently been ticketed for trespassing out there. He added that while it was acceptable for me to take pictures of the cottages from below the high-tide mark (which in Connecticut is open-access land), if I or anybody else went above it, we would be “jackpotted.” Does anybody really believe a main function of the police isn’t revenue collection?
I thanked him, then drove to a paddleboard launch far from his prying eyes. I paddled up Lewis Gut and used one of the still-existent docks to access the cottages. There was no one about; the workers were only doing preparation work on the road, with the actual demolition days away. I surreptitiously took my photos (exteriors only, since this cat has an aversion to treeing himself) and then paddled away. Mischief managed.
My favorites by far were the murals. The scale of the collages and their composition out of the environment made them fun too. I wish artists had been out there every summer since 2007. Having to commit a crime just to experience the exhibit is another demonstration of the ridiculousness that is Long Beach West and Pleasure Beach.
I’ve updated my photo essay on LBW, with some more pics of the artwork at the end. The narrative also includes new research and the events of the failed land deal.