The Racine Journal-Times Sunday Bulletin from Racine, Wisconsin on January 7, 1962 · Page 59
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The Racine Journal-Times Sunday Bulletin from Racine, Wisconsin · Page 59

Racine, Wisconsin
Issue Date:
Sunday, January 7, 1962
Page 59
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GALLERY OF UNUSUAL PEOPLE The Bible wmmmmmmmmmm Three of Ted Conibear's projected 30 Biblescnpes arc (from left} the Nativity: Christ in Gcthsamunc: and thciLasI Supper, which the sculptor is now workinj^ on. A S A POLICEMAN 35 years ago, Ted Coni- L bear pounded the pavements of Detroit. Today, he treads silently over grass-carpeted hills and valleys past the birthplace of the Christ Child, past the garden of Gethsemane, past the cross- spiked hill of Calvary. When the ex-policeman's long and easy strides bring him to the scene of the Last Supper, he halts. His eyes squint. He scrutinizes Jesus seated at a table with eight of His disciples. The critical appraisal over, Conibear moves to the end of the table, next to bewildered Simon, and picks up a knife and spoon—to work with. Ted Conibear is a sculptor now. His medium is sand and water. His tools are a knife, a spoon, and a couple of 19-cent brushes. With these simple tools and materials, and his gifted hands, he is creating a 100-acre "Bible Land" in southern California with life-size, sand- sculptured scenes from the life of Christ. Conibear plans to populate his leased acreage with 30 imposing Biblescapes. The half-finished Last Supper is the third of these. Ten tons of sand have already gone into it. Another eight tons will complete the 20-foot-long table and seat the four missing disciples—Bartholomew, James the younger, Andrew, and Judas. "Friends and neighbors pose for my Biblical scenes," Conibear says. "A rancher from Elsinore is Simon at the Last Supper. And Matthew is a sergeant-mechanic stationed at the March Field Air Force Base." Conibear uses ordinary sand for his Biblical sculptures. However, it must be of a certain color and stability, and Conibear searches for it as far north as Los Angeles and south to the Mexican border. "One exceptionally fine batch," he admits with a twinkle, "came from the Del Mar race track out here." Conibear's Bible Land is in the Rainbow Valley, 50 miles northeast of San Diego. He supports himself, his artist wife, and teen-age son (another Is His Beat Ted Coniheor, an ex-policeman with o knock for sand sculpture, is creating a unique shrine to the life of Christ Photos and Text by HENRY CHAPMAN Ti;d adds dntail In a fi^urv. in the Last Supper. son is in the Navy) by doing odd jobs—but most of his time is spent re-creating the New Testament in sand. The growing tourist attraction is free; Conibear says he simply wants to share "God's gift" to him with others. He first realized he had a gift for sculpture in 1926 when he saw a man on a Lake Erie beach molding a bathing beauty from sand. Conibear helped him with the hands and face and did so well that onlookers applauded. His realization that he could form figures from sand grew until at last he quit the Detroit police force and joined various fairs as a "sand sculptor." Upwards of 15,000 persons watched him create battle scenes and wild animals, but it was Bible scenes that fascinated Conibear—and his audiences—most. After 30 years of traveling around on the fair circuit, Conibear retreated to Rainbow Canyon where he could create his Biblical figures—and not have to destroy them at the end of each day's work. C REATING THE BIBLESCAPES demands meticulous research for authenticity in clothing, furnishings, and other details. For this, Conibear consults his own extensive library of Biblical literature, treasured in his 100-year-old stone house. Following his research, Conibear renders a rough drawing of the scene to be translated into sand. After he is satisfied with the scene's composition, he wheelbarrows a load of sand to the site and begins his tedious technique. He adds water to a small portion of the finely sifted sand. Then he packs it solid, one handful at a time, to build the general bulk of the figure or object. Slowly, the miracle of creation unfolds under Conibear's sensitive fingers and his deft manipulations with knife, spoon, and brush. Conibear estimates it will take "a mountain of sand, a lake of water, and a life of time" to illustrate the life of Christ from the Nativity to the Resurrection, and he is willing to dedicate himself to its fulfillment. "My talent was a gift of God," he says, "so I'm using that gift to build this shrine to Him." Family Weekly. January 7, 1962

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