Surfaced Art

Thanks for your help deciding what endangered animal will be featured on the “Surfaced” sculpture at the new Tahoe Blue Center.

After a heated competition, “Surfaced,” the new art installation created from some of the 25,000+ pounds of litter removed from Lake Tahoe will take the form of a bald eagle holding a Lahontan cutthroat trout.

Over 1,200 votes were cast in the contest to determine the sculpture’s design, with the bald eagle and trout combination taking first place over the Sierra Nevada red fox and Lahontan cutthroat trout. Scroll down to see depictions of each of these animals.

The Tahoe Fund, with support of Tahoe Blue Vodka, has commissioned Building 180 artists Joel Dean Stockdill and Yustina Salnikova to produce “Surfaced” a sculpture for the Tahoe South Events Center made from the materials surfaced during Clean Up The Lake’s 72-mile scuba clean up of Lake Tahoe. The artists are internationally recognized for creating beautiful sculptures from recycled and reclaimed materials.

ETHYL, San Francisco, CA | Santa Fe, NM
Building 180 & Artists Joel Dean Stockdill and Yustina Salnikova

The Story

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. They have now surfaced more than 21,000 pounds of trash from the Lake. The artists will use this trash to create a beautiful permanent sculpture that will educate visitors to the South Tahoe Event Center about what lies underneath Tahoe’s blue waters and inspire greater environmental stewardship of Lake Tahoe.

Tahoe Blue Center
Rendering of Tahoe Blue Center opening July 2023.

How You Helped

We wanted YOU to help decide which sculpture we should permanently place at the Tahoe South Events Center and we got our wish! More than 1,200 of you cast your vote for your favorites and the results are in!

Bald Eagle and Lahontan Cutthroat Trout

With 558 votes, the Bald Eagle clutching a Lahontan Cutthroat Trout is the winner!

This concept celebrates the new record-high number of bald eagles counted by the Tahoe Institute of Natural Science in the 2021 season. This depiction illustrates the food web and celebrates both species as integral and iconic parts of the whole. Both of the species’ health greatly depends on the lake’s health.

Sierra Nevada Red Fox
Sierra Nevada Red Fox

With 494 votes, the Sierra Nevada Red Fox came in a close second place thanks to a last-minute surge.

The Sierra Red Fox is an endangered species native to the Tahoe area. They are classified as one of the most endangered species in North America, with an estimated 18 to 39 individuals left. They are subalpine species and their decline is related to the impact on their habitat due to human activity, climate change, and wildfires.

Lahontan Cutthroat Trout

With only 159 votes, the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout came in a distant third place.

The only native trout to the region, this prehistoric species of trout is a primary Lake Tahoe predator as well as a key food source for many land-based creatures – including humans. Recent reintroduction efforts of the Lahontan Cutthroat trout have been improving. 

Don’t Trash Tahoe

The artists may be using recovered trash to create a sculpture, but that doesn’t mean we want any more litter. Be sure to always leave with everything you brought so future generations can enjoy the same sights and feelings that Lake Tahoe brings you.

Click here to learn more about the wildlife that calls Lake Tahoe home!

Ready to be a next-level visitor? Click here.

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Special thank you to the Parasol Tahoe Community Foundation for their support storing the litter. 

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