Lights, camera, Miami Beach

Published May 30, 2007

MIAMI BEACH - Victor Leong races against time to build his sand castle. He has been working for more than four hours and must finish before the sun sets so his creation can be filmed without shadows.

He molds the wet sand in his hands, shapes it into blocks and cuts it with his fingers as if it were clay. After hours of stacking sand, his castle stands over 5 feet tall adorned with seashells, sand staircases, balconies and cannons.

Leong's sand castle is for a segment of an art show called Artland: USA. The show's eight-member crew kicked off filming the second season in Florida this month and will cross the country in a Winnebago for eight weeks of filming America's most offbeat, kitschy art, ending in Alaska in July.

The show's second season will begin with its Florida episode, which will include interviews about Miami collectors, Art Deco history and local artists. It will air on Voom's Gallery HD, an arts television network, in October.

Its producers and hosts claim it is the great American road trip - only with art.

Host Toby Amies, from Brighton, England, and his co-host Mame McCutchin, a New Yorker, will shoot in more than 50 cities.

"I really wanted to do a series on art, but not in New York and Los Angeles, " said executive producer Tamar Hacker. "I wanted something that would be appealing to people who weren't in those cities."

In Miami Beach, a four-person crew filmed the Art Deco district, a strip of beachfront property.

Although the show's filming itinerary is planned, most of the dialogue is spontaneous.

"I never want to be so well informed. I try and enter the situation with intelligent ignorance, " said Amies.

"We assessed America to be a place to have a fantastic adventure, " said Amies. "What I would love to happen is for people to see the programs and be inspired to do something themselves."

As the sun begins to set, Leong is ready for his interview with Amies.

"Today was terrible. Today was grueling. This is inspiration vs. perspiration, " said Leong, who charges between $1, 500 to $2, 500 for eight hours of building sand castles.

"It's hard to get sand to stand."