David Skaggs brings beach debris and litter to life
Q: David Skaggs, you create some of Siesta Key’s most celebrated artistic creations with what you literally find on our beach. Wow! Can you tell us how this came about?
A: It’s quite a story. I had a widow-maker heart attack eight years ago at 51 years old. It brought life to halt. I had to close my remodeling business down and it took about eight months to get back on my feet. I was looking for a purpose as to why God kept me here on earth and it seemed that all the palm fronds, beach treasures, recycled items all gave me that purpose.
In that time, money was very tight with my business gone. I was trying to amuse myself at home alone while my wife was at work. I started picking up palm fronds and making them into fish, lamps, anything that popped in my head that day. As time passed the sculptures started progressing to full-sized 3D creations. My mind got creative after the heart attack and God really guided me through. My doctor told me I needed to exercise more so I started walking Siesta Beach every weekend. Siesta has always been my happy place where I find peace. I started picking up items washed ashore and implementing them into my art. Killing two birds with one stone … cleaning up our beaches and creating cool art. A win-win!
Q: We hear that you even have residents who collect items for you. Is that right?
A: Yes, there about a dozen people that collect items, rinse them off and bag them up. Then they
put them in the back of my truck in the Siesta Beach parking lot. So, when I’m hauling my own finds
back from my walk, I’m met with more items already delivered to me. It’s a wonderful feeling knowing
more people are making an effort to keep our beaches clean and support a local artist. It’s like I get
treasures every weekend!
Q: Has environmentalism always been important to you?
A: I wish I could say yes, but honestly, it’s become more important to me as I’ve gotten older. I used to go
to the beach and lay there and watch people. Then, when I had to start walking more, I noticed the trash, cigarette butts, and other waste so it really woke me up. I was disgusted with all the garbage on our beautiful beach. It really fired me up to make a difference any way I could to improve the situation.
Q: Has your work been showcased in some prestigious settings?
A: Oh yes. I’ve had my own one-man show at Historic Spanish Point as well as shows and awards at the Modern Pentathlon at Nathan Benderson Park, Art Center Sarasota, Art Center Manatee, and Art Center Venice.
I’ve conducted a class for the summer program at USF, and I’ve created a display and educational booth at Mote Marine. I’ve put on a show at Café in the Park and the Florida Maritime Museum. I’ve been on the Suncoast View multiple times, SNN, Tampa WFLA, and have been in local newspapers and the University of Louisville Magazine.
Q: Can you name your favorite creation? And why?
A: That’s a hard one. I put my heart and soul in every sculpture and they are all original. I never duplicate a piece. They are like my children.
But Snooty the Manatee is my favorite because I got to work with another local artist, Ray Lawler, who is a fabulous painter. We really enjoyed the collaboration during the two-year process of making the manatee and became best friends.
Q: Tell us your history with Siesta Key.
A: I moved to Sarasota to be near Siesta Beach. My family traveled here from Indiana when I was a kid
and we just fell in love with it. My parents live here now, too — right next door to me and my wife. It’s so
incredibly beautiful and it fills me with peace and tranquility.
One of the best things about it is that it’s different every single day. There’s no other beach in my mind to compare to the quartz sand, blue water and friendly people. It really refuels my soul each weekend to get me through the week.
Q: How can people see and potentially purchase you work?
A: People can check out my work on my website at davesworldart.com as well as on Facebook at
Dave’s World Art. I’m also on Instagram as skaggs9779.
People are welcome to come to my home in Sarasota to view as well. On the weekend mornings my truck is parked in the public lot at Siesta Beach and I always have pieces on display in the back. I’m a collected artist and love when people purchase my creations for their personal enjoyment. Local restaurants have purchased my sculptures to adorn their businesses as well.