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Low Tide Aliens inscribe sacred geometry into the sands of Newport Beach

A large-scale public art project created by Low Tide Aliens near the Newport Beach Pier on July 30.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Sacred geometry is the study of the underpinnings of nature’s most elegant and awe-inspiring designs, from a galaxy’s soupy swirl to the arrangement of petals in a flower to the formation of ice crystals in a snowflake.

And if you wanted to learn more about the principles of sacred geometry, you could go to any metaphysical bookstore and walk out with an armful of titles. Or you could visit the Newport Beach pier early in the morning during a full or new moon.

That’s where Shane Kern and Drew Davis might be found, drumsticks and rakes in hand, inscribing ancient wisdom deep into the sand in the form of larger-than-life art pieces that comprise shapes and patterns that, they will tell you, have unseen powers.

Shane Kern, left, and Drew Davis strike warrior poses at their latest public art piece at Newport Beach Pier.
Shane “Sane King” Kern, 48, left, of Newport Beach, and Drew “Gold Heart” Davis, 34, right, of Costa Mesa, strike warrior poses at their latest public art piece at Newport Beach Pier.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

“Sacred geometry lights people up. It’s actually in our cells,” said Kern, a 48-year-old Newport Beach resident. “We’re trying to help people here by bringing some sacred geometry into the picture.”

On a recent morning, he and Davis put the finishing touches on an elaborate Hamsa (hand of God) figure at the center of a geometric figure representing the heart energy center, or chakra, in the human body.

They call themselves Low Tide Aliens — a reference, perhaps, to the resemblance of their chosen art form to crop circles. It’s a mantle they adopted from two women who used to draw intricately patterned mandalas on Orange County beaches and taught Kern and Davis some pointers before moving on to other callings, bequeathing the moniker.

Shane Kern, left, and Drew Davis — aka Low Tide Aliens — carve an art piece at Newport Pier on a recent Saturday.
(Christopher A. Brown)

Today, Davis and Kern maintain the website, lowtidealiens.com, and an Instagram page, where they’re cultivating a following that expands each time people encounter their beach creations. They have a head full of ideas about ways they might grow interest in the patterns and concepts behind them, including turning images of the art into nonfungible tokens to be shared and traded virtually.

But at the center of their personal mission is using the sand carvings and the conversations they inspire to help raise human consciousness by sparking something inside those who experience them.

“We just come out here and enjoy being present with the people,” said Davis, a 34-year-old Costa Mesa resident who used to paint but finds sand art gets him in a flow state. “When kids see this, they come right to it. I get to teach them this ancient, esoteric wisdom by playing at the beach.

Low Tide Aliens create a figure inspired by Merkaba, a school of early Jewish mysticism.
Low Tide Aliens create a figure inspired by Merkaba, a school of early Jewish mysticism, in Newport Beach in November.
(Courtesy of Low Tide Aliens)

“The Mayans were doing this how many years ago? Now I come out here and do the same thing.”

On a recent Saturday, the duo woke up well before sunrise, arriving at the pier at 5:30 a.m. to take advantage of the outgoing tide.

Armed with a sketchbook blueprint and strings to mark out the structure of the image, they got to work. By 9 a.m. they’d completed a 40-foot diameter figure lined in lotus petals and topped by a Mayan-style labyrinth.

Beachgoers reacted differently. Some stood and posed for selfies, while others walked their dogs right over the lines. Tustin resident Joan Lin watched from above as she walked the pier with 12-year-old daughter Elisa and puppy Mushu.

Shane Kern meditates at the center of a public art piece by Low Tide Aliens at Newport Beach Pier July 30.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

“This is beautiful. It must take a lot of concentration and focus and energy to be able to do it,” she said. “If I was down there drawing, it would be all crooked.”

“It’s really cool and so pretty,” Elisa agreed. “It must have taken them a while. I wouldn’t have the time and patience to do that.”

Nearby, Bill Ledezma watched as the swiftly incoming tide lapped at the giant etching. A former Newport resident who lives in North Florida, he said he appreciates the California-ness of it all.

“It’s great,” he said. “That’s what California is all about — expressing your feelings. As long as you’re not hurting anyone and it’s good vibes, it’s a good thing.”

A recent geometric sand etching at Newport Beach, created by local artists Shane Kern and Drew Davis, the Low Tide Aliens.
(Courtesy of Low Tide Aliens)

Kern believes in the power of good vibes. A former fitness trainer who began studying meditative labyrinths as a teenager, he’d just begun to incorporate them into client sessions at a Laguna Beach hotel in early 2020, when he was laid off during the pandemic.

A bit depressed and listless, he’d visit the beach each morning to clear his head. One day, he saw an old man running in the rain and felt compelled to do something.

“I went out and bought a shovel and started doing a labyrinth every day for eight or nine months,” Kern recalled. “I started asking Source, send me some like-minded people. Send me some mentors.”

Kern’s labyrinths attracted Drew, who was as eager to delve into the study of ancient practices as he was. They created works that appealed to onlookers like Christopher Brown, a photographer who began documenting the construction, and Sharon Streger, a West Los Angeles resident who first saw Low Tide Aliens on Instagram.

Shane Kern and Drew Davis pose with their rakes at a temporary Low Tide Aliens installation at Newport Beach Pier.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

“I just got licensed as a drone pilot, so I came out here and asked if I could film,” Streger said, lying out to capture some sun. “It’s so phenomenal, so breathtaking and peaceful to look at.”

Though she doesn’t know much about sacred geometry, Streger said she’s always been drawn to circle patterns, particularly “evil eye” amulets. She even named her drone business Infinite Eye.

Done with work, Davis sat in the sand beside Streger and began explaining the eye is a powerful symbol in ancient art.

By 10:30 a.m., the tide had almost completely obliterated hours of work. Kern and Davis seemed far from minding the erasure.

“We put it in the Earth’s DNA. We planted a seed,” Kern said, gazing at the shoreline. “This is actually the most beautiful part of creation, when it gets taken away.”

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