Seibert grew up in Vail, Colorado, in the 1960s, when the resort town was growing fast and mired in construction projects. “Everywhere you looked, there were construction and sand piles to play in, and scrap and garbage mounds to pull stuff from,” he remembers. From these leavings, he built treehouses, fantasy worlds, and models of buildings that he’d glimpsed, like the TWA Flight Center at New York’s JFK Airport.
Seibert admits that he hasn’t changed much since those days: “There are pictures of me from back then, and I look exactly the same as I do now. My hands are covered with cement and sand,” he shrugs.
Seibert’s early days playing in sand piles led him to New York, in 1979, to study at the School of Visual Arts. Through the 1980s and ’90s, he explored different mediums, but often found his way back to the beach. “I used to do drawings,” he remembers. “but ultimately I stopped making them, because the light in them was too flat and not atmospheric enough. I had to move on to another way of expressing myself.”
Working en plein air, in places where natural light reflected off the glittering sand and ocean, provided an appealing alternative. In the late 1970s and early ’80s, Seibert drove several times from Colorado to California, where he’d build castles on Laguna Beach and elsewhere. In the early ’80s, he also began taking advantage of the beaches much closer to Manhattan, taking the train out to Jones Beach in between construction gigs, assisting other artists, and making art out of his small, rent-controlled apartment in Chelsea.