Public input sought on Lake Tahoe trash sculpture

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — 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.

“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 Tahoe Fund CEO Amy Berry in a press release. “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.”

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. Votes can be cast online until May 20.

“Ethyl” by Building 180, the same artists who will be creating “Surfaced.”
Provided/Building 180

“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 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. Their effort is expected to be completed on May 10, 2022.

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.

To vote on the sculpture design, visit

Source: Tahoe Fund

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