Legacy ~ Dear Gramps


Plastics and fiber litter on Gray Whale Cove State Beach November 2, 2015. They’re scrubbed and disinfected – now drying for sorting and storage.

Dear Gramps,


Choppy windy waves that made big booms when they touched land today.

The sound of the rain coming through my window was so comforting as I curled up in my bed late last night. As the rare storm made its presence known, I was wondering how high the ocean waves were and what they were coughing up on the beach.

I visited Gray Whale Cove State Beach after class today to do a post-weekend beach cleanup. Anticipation welled up in me as I made my way down Highway 1 – I couldn’t wait to see the tall windy weather waves. Gramps, I was the only one on the beach for a half hour – it was a magical experience. I imagine that’s how it was for you when you visited beaches seventy years ago. I thought about you, your life and how really… the apple does not fall far from the tree. I think a lot, kinda quiet and introverted, creative and pick up stuff at the beach… just like you.

Garbage from Gray Whale State Beach 11/2/2015.

Garbage from Gray Whale Cove State Beach today – a lot of liquor bottles and cans!

Lately, my visits to the San Francisco Bay Area beaches have been fueled by visions of my future visual arts exhibition. I have always been intrigued by the idea of creating works of art out of garbage – that convey humanity’s over-consumption and disrespect of mother nature, while also transforming discarded items into something special to hold onto. I didn’t start beach cleanups for this particular goal, but after about the tenth cleanup, I realized I should take advantage of the interesting material that I gathered and  pursue this creative vision.

Gramps racing on the beach - most likely Pt. Reyes.

Gramps racing on the beach – most likely Pt. Reyes or Stinson Beach, California – circa 1932, age 25.


My grandfather, Richard Karl Matischek, born in San Francisco a year after the big quake of 1906, was a bit of a roamer and had a handful of professions such as a Hollywood stuntman for ol’ black and whites, a mechanic at the piers in North Beach, an Indian motorcycle racer, San Francisco Bay fisherman, and until he passed away in 1987, a wood-carving sculptor.

Gramps had myriad of professions, but his heart and soul was being a fine artist, wood-carver and craftsperson. He would comb the Marin Headland beaches for driftwood, sea shells and rocks during his retirement years. He’d polish the rocks and inlay them in the driftwood, creating sculptural works of art.

So Gramps, it wasn’t until I started cleaning up beaches that I stopped hoarding  rocks and seashells. I think the days of people “taking” from nature are numbered; the “take” has got to be the garbage humanity dumps. Not to mention, when I moved recently, I rediscovered a bag of rocks stored with my spare tire in my trunk… I think they’ve been there since 2012, three moves ago. No joke. Who does that? Only eccentric artists who have a fascination with nature!

I will carry on your legacy of making art out of found objects. Instead of rocks and seashells that you used for your sculptures, I will make art with beach plastics and ropes. I know you would be floored to see the beaches the way they are now, so I think this is a good progression of our legacy – our lineage. I promise to help clean up the beaches that you once roamed and use my talent that surely came from you.

Much love,
Your granddaughter,

P.S. I still have that essay I wrote about you when I was in middle school (see below). I just reread it for the first time in ages… it made me smile! Also, I hope you forgive me for peeing on your front seat of your car when I was five – I never forgot. I told you I had to go! 🙂

“My Grandfather” – A Short Biography

Below is a short biography I wrote in middle school at age 13 about my grandfather’s rather “colorful” past. I remember interviewing him and watching him glow as he recalled his life story. I’m so grateful I wrote it as I would have never remembered all these details!





4 thoughts on “Legacy ~ Dear Gramps

  1. The story of your grandfather is fascinating and, at the same, is very poignant. I like the idea of continuing the legacy of your grandfather as we are not islands. I am so inspired by your action of making small changes: beach clean-up and your big dream of making art work with what you will collect through out many years to come.

    Liked by 1 person

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