A Salt Masterpiece in Monterey

The Monterey Museum of Art is featuring an elegant and ephemeral artwork.

EPHEMERAL BEAUTY: There are certain artworks that are made to last thousands of years. Think of things like the Nazca Line or cave painting or even the boulderful "Levitated Mass" at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Those will be around for a long time to come, eons, even, if you want to be slightly technical. Then there are those objects of beauty that are not meant to last for long. A simple knock or breath could send them spiraling away, with only the memory that they existed (okay, and a bunch of Instagram photos, too, if we're talking about nowadays). One of the most buzzed-about here-today-gone-tomorrow (or Aug. 25, more accurately) is the artwork now on at the Monterey Museum of Art. It's on the ground, it is white, it is comprised of small chunks, and it is full made of...

SALT. YEP, SALT: The work is called "Return to the Sea," which is perfect, and the artist is Motoi Yamamoto. Mr. Yamamoto has painstakingly composed his salt work (we'd go for another descriptive beyond "painstakingly," but that seems to be an apt way to describe how salt goes into a work of art, a little at a time) on the floor of the museum. The artist will be creating his artwork at the museum's Pacific Street location through June 13, and there it shall remain through Aug. 25. And what does a work made entirely of salt look like? Picture swirls and curlicues and lacy spirals, a snowy wonderland that has the tang of the ocean.

THE CLOSING CEREMONY: It's on view all summer, and is sure to be an interesting experience, but what is going down on the closing day truly intrigues. On Sunday, Aug. 25 viewers are invited to participate in the dismantling of "Return to the Sea." The salt will be picked up, and, yep, you guessed it -- returned to the sea.

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