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During the lowest of tides, Jim Denevan will find a piece of driftwood on a beach and use it to carve out gigantic images of perfect, massive spirals, each hundreds of feet across. After six hours of labor, the drawing is finished but within minutes, it will be reclaimed by the rising tide, leaving barely a trace. With their huge scale and gossamer life span, the drawings may seem illogical, insignificant, or even impractical. However, one glimpse of the drawings and the spectator's notion of time, mortality, as well as art and its meaning, will change. Jim's life has been marked by tragedy: the loss of his father when he was just five years old; three of his eight siblings falling to schizophrenia; his mathematician mother becoming demented from Alzheimer's; the death of two brothers. Irrevocable changes. How does one deal with such absolutes?

After years of this Sisyphian task, Jim has realized that permanence is a delusion to which people retreat in order to occlude our inevitable mortality. Living in fear of death proves unnatural to Jim. "Change is beautiful. I don't want to lie by making something permanent." This acceptance of impermanence has allowed Jim to understand his tumultuous childhood, but isn't evident when it comes to the relationship with his son. Jim's son Brighton is the only tangible reward Jim has received in his irrational life, and he fights the thought that his son may eventually want a life of his own. So he does whatever he can to preserve their moments together. Every night Jim writes stories, as many as Brighton wishes, to prolong the minutes before he falls asleep.

But perhaps one day, Jim will realize that whatever happens between him and Brighton will be acceptable, not unlike the problems of his childhood, his relationship with his mother, and the demise of his artistic efforts on the beach. When he walks onto the sand to begin a drawing, he sees that "... a season has returned. It shows a new time. It shows that time has passed. It shows that I'm still around and everything is okay."

[Original air date: Sun, Aug 27, 2006]

This program is not currently scheduled for broadcast.

Filmmaker Profiles:

Chesley Chen

Read more about Chesley Chen, filmmaker of Sandman.


Sandman: Crew & Credits

In memory of Dorothy Denevan 1921-2000

A production of Sleeping Dog Filmworks, a film collective
Sleeping Dog Filmworks is Chesley Chen & Robert C. Winn

This film would not have been possible without the support of the following people and dogs.

Brighton Denevan
Dorothy Denevan
Tish Denevan
and the whole Denevan family

The Fleishhacker Foundation
Visual Communications
Our Lady of Fatima Villa, Saratoga
Kodak Motion Pictures
Steve Goldberg

Ian Carr
Chris Chomyn
Anne Duncan
Kathleen Dwyer
Alicia Dwyer
and the whole Dwyer family
Eric Furie
Brynn Horrocks
Elizabeth Ohrbom
Laura Pak and Marc Honma
Ben Pierce
Serena Rivera
Robin Wallace and Tim Snowber
Andrew Wesman
Beverly Wesman

Chira Chen
Shuatan Chen
Jeremy Pollack
Lourdes Rivera
Sherry Winn
Tomoko Winn
Luck & Auggie

and of course
Jim Denevan,the sandman

"China Gates" by John Adams (BMI, 1977)
Performed by Gloria Cheng-Cochran (Telarc, 1998)

"Phrygian Gates" by John Adams (BMI, 1983)
Performed by Gloria Cheng-Cochran (Telarc, 1998)

"Kinderszenen" by Robert Schumann
Performed by Vladimir Horowitz (Polygram, 1987)

"Sentimental Walk" by Vladimir Cosma
(Galaxie Music 1981)

"Musica Poetica" by Carl Orff & Gunild Keetman
(European American Music, 1995)
Karl Peinkofer Percussion Ensemble

"Avant-Dernieres Pensees" by Erik Satie
(WIndham Hill, 1986)

Produced in association with KQED Public Television

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