From Trash to Treasure: Long Beach artist finds his calling at the beach

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LONG BEACH -

After working 30 years in the stock market and sales, a Long Beach man ditched the shirt and tie for sandals and sunblock.

Mitch VanDoff recently found his "calling" at the beach. The driftwood he picks up is then piled up at his home in Long Beach where Mother Nature's old weathered waste will be crafted into something new.

"Occasionally I'll find a piece and I see a start of something. An animal or a piece of an animal something like that. I just go with that. When I lock onto something it's like a puzzle. Trying to find other pieces to fit it together," says VanDoff.

His art grew from just a fun hobby to a whole new career - seven years ago, in his late 40s, he quit his job and became a full-time artist.

VanDoff's house is a small art gallery covered with everything from driftwood pachyderms to presidents.
Outside, next to the boardwalk, VanDoff calls it his "art garden." A giant horse, a giraffe and other interesting pieces grab the attention of people walking by.

His pieces can sell for $1,000, but it's a small item that is his big seller, because it's made from the boardwalk destroyed by Sandy.

VanDoff says that when he's "creating" he's channeling the universe and he hopes his art connects more people with nature.

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