Litter monster: Tahoe Fund, Clean Up the Lake invite public to vote on sculpture design

Following the unprecedented year-long scuba clean-up of Lake Tahoe by Clean Up The Lake, the Tahoe Fund with support from Tahoe Blue Vodka, commissioned artists to create a sculpture using some of the recovered items from the Lake. “Surfaced,” a permanent art installation, will be featured at the new Tahoe South Events Center to educate visitors about what lies beneath Tahoe’s blue waters. The nonprofits are launching a contest inviting the public to vote on the endangered animal form the sculpture will take: a Sierra Nevada Red Fox, Lahontan Cutthroat Trout or Bald Eagle holding a Lahontan Cutthroat Trout. Today is the last day to cast votes online.

“Clean Up The Lake’s incredible effort to surface trash around all 72-miles of Lake Tahoe is nearing completion and the team has already removed over 21,000 pounds of trash,” said Amy Berry, Tahoe Fund CEO. “By creating a permanent art sculpture at this wonderful location with some of what was recovered from the lake, our hope is that it will inspire greater environmental stewardship and remind those who love Lake Tahoe that it’s up to all of us to take care of it.”

“Our team has been hard at work beneath the surface of Lake Tahoe for the past year,” said Colin West, founder of nonprofit Clean Up The Lake. “We are thankful to have such a wonderful location to see our work turn into a beautiful piece of art that will further our efforts to improve the environment.”

Known for creating beautiful art from recycled and reclaimed materials, the sculpture will be made by internationally recognized artists Joel Dean Stockdill and Yustina Salnikova by Building 180. One of their best known sculptures is “Ethyl,” an 82-foot life-size whale made from 5,000 pounds of hand recycled trash that was commissioned by the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Hub Strategy & Communication for a campaign about plastic pollution and ocean conservation.

In 2020, Clean Up The Lake partnered with the Tahoe Fund to raise the funds necessary for the first-ever 72-mile scuba clean-up of Lake Tahoe. Thanks to a matching $100,000 donation from Tahoe Blue Vodka, $25,000 from Vail Resorts, more than 135 Tahoe Fund donors, NDSL’s Lake Tahoe License Plate Program and other grant giving agencies, the dive team started the clean-up on May 14, 2021.

The new Tahoe South Events Center, scheduled for opening in early 2023, will feature two levels: an event floor, suites, conference and meeting room level, as well as an event lawn area. Seating for up to 6,000 will be available for concerts, performing arts, trade shows, and sporting exhibitions along with a seasonal micro-transit system. It is expected to host up to 130 events a year with opportunities to expand visitation into shoulder seasons and mid-week periods. The anticipated economic impact to the entire community is estimated at $40-60 million per year. When completed the center will employ around 15 full-time staff members and between 200 to 300 part-time staff to run the events.

To vote on the sculpture design, visit

Source: Tahoe Fund

“Ethyl” by Building 180.
Photo courtesy of Building 180

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