A Retro-Groundbreaking Art Exhibit in Laguna Beach, California
by Chris Dixon
EXPRESSION SESSION 2: An Exhibition of Paintings, Photographs, Prints & Posters, September 4-28, 2014
High Times, by John Severson, courtesy: Artists Republic 4 Tomorrow
Back in around 1997, a persistent college kid from the Jersey Shore named Will Pennartz bugged me so much about an internship at Surfer magazine, that I realized I’d be stupid not to hire him to help me build Surfermag.com. Will would not only become a good friend, but would go on to take over my other job as Surfer’s travel editor before eventually becoming an associate editor at the magazine. Pennartz was smart, driven and entrepreneurial and in 2001, he left Surfer to start up something that was then completely new – an art gallery devoted exclusively to surfing and surf culture. The Surf Gallery was a tiny, groundbreaking spot just above the punchy reefbreak at Laguna Beach’s Thalia Street. The gallery helped launch careers and refocus the lens on surfing’s legends, and I’m honored to have been witness to its early days. Alas, by 2010, Laguna rents became too high, and Will was again feeling restless, so he moved on. Fortunately though, those lucky enough to be in Laguna in the coming month have a chance to see a brand new Pennartz-curated show in honor of The Surf Gallery. Will lit the fire. Others now bear the torch. —CD
LAGUNA BEACH, CA. Artists Republic 4 Tomorrow is proud to present Expression Session 2, a group exhibition of works spanning two generations of surf culture, featuring seven of its most influential artists. Selected by guest curator Will Pennartz, founder and owner of The Surf Gallery (2001-2010), the exhibition consists of paintings, photographs, prints and posters by John Severson, Mike Salisbury, Rick Griffin, Thomas Campbell, Geoff McFetridge, Andy Davis and Tyler Warren. The show will be on view September 4-28, 2014. Among the works available will be never-before-exhibited prints of 1960s-era Surfer Magazine drawings by Salisbury, as well as a new limited edition print from Thomas Campbell.
The Surf Gallery’s temporary return to Laguna Beach is notable, because, AR4T Gallery owner Torrey Cook explains, its 2010 closure left a hole in the Laguna Beach art community: “Will created a incubator for the most innovative artists in surfing and nothing can take its place,” she said. From 2001 through 2010 Pennartz presented a reflection of the changing modern surf culture by blending contemporary art and more traditional surf imagery in the small gallery, which was just up the steps from the famous Thalia Street surf break. He also organized exhibitions in New York, Tokyo, London, Paris, Sydney and Sao Paulo. He also organized the revered Moonshine and The Happening surf, music and art festivals.
Sewn Flower, by Thomas Campbell, courtesy: Artists Republic 4 Tomorrow
In 2013, Expression Session 1 at Artists Republic 4 Tomorrow featured works from 16 influential contemporary artists in surf culture throughout the first decade of the 2000s. In Expression Session 2, Pennartz brings two generations together starting with the very beginning: “John Severson was an inspiration for me to open The Surf Gallery, and I’m thrilled to still be working with him again,” he says. “I’ve always been a huge fan of Mike Salisbury’s work – from his early drawings in Surfer Magazine to his photography and design work. Thomas Campbell is a legend in his own right.”
Surf Beetle, by Mike Salisbury, courtesy: Artists Republic 4 Tomorrow
Tyler Warren, 28, who Pennartz has featured in several exhibitions, says, “I am honored to be in such good company in this show. Andy, John, and Thomas are some of my favorite artists. I have pieces by each of them in my personal collection.”
Island Jack, by Andy Davis, courtesy: Artists Republic 4 Tomorrow
“The combination of this carefully selected group of contemporary artists, alongside the original visionaries of the industry, highlights the generational influence that this art has had on culture as a whole,” says gallery co-owner and co-curator Mark Weiner. “The Surf Gallery helped shape my interest not only in surf culture, but in contemporary art in general. I am very excited to be working with Will again in presenting works that I believe will also inspire generations to come.”
About John Severson:
John Severson revolutionized pop culture’s vision of surfing and surf culture. In 1958, while in the Army and stationed on Oahu, Severson surfed big waves and created a series of popular surf movies including Surf, Surf Safari, Surf Fever, Big Wednesday and Pacific Vibrations. It was the posters associated with them that remain collector favorites today. Severson’s graphic skills translated to Surfer magazine, which he founded in 1960. He is the premier surf culture artist, having expanded his career to include photography and a steady output of oil paintings, watercolors, drawings, and prints.
Bonus: Here’s a scene from John Severson’s Magnum Opus, Pacific Vibrations with Rick Griffin driving the bus.
About Rick Griffin:
Iconic Californian surf, rock, comic and psychedelic artist Rick Griffin (1944-1991) was one of the leading designers of psychedelic posters in the 1960s. Upon graduating from high school, Griffin went to work as a staff artist at Surfer magazine. His work within the surfing subculture included both film posters and his comic strip, Murphy. He also created record covers for surf music giants including Dick Dale and the Challengers, and later, some of the seminal images of the psychedelic era including a 1969 Jimi Hendrix poster. He was closely identified with the Grateful Dead, designing some of their best known posters and record jackets.
About Mike Salisbury:
Mike Salisbury, the original art director of Surfer magazine, has taught design, advertising, illustration and photography at UCLA, Otis Art Institute and The Art Center. He is a contributing editor, writer and photographer for Forbes, Men’s Journal, and other magazines; his photography has additionally appeared in Vogue, Esquire, Newsweek, and many more. Salisbury has photographs in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York; his design work is in the Library of Congress, the National Archives and the Smithsonian. His photography and graphic work have been featured in museum shows worldwide.
About Thomas Campbell:
Thomas Campbell is a self-taught painter, sculpture, photographer, and filmmaker. He splits his time between his painting/sculpture/stuff making studio in Bonny Doon, California and traversing the globe making films. Campbell’s artworks combine scribbles and scriptures, taking slogans and anecdotes from his unique vocabulary and juxtaposing them with a profound look at human nature. His movement-oriented paintings are as layered with meaning as they are with paint. The works, typically composed of several panels, are free-flowing with wide expressionist swipes of color, bold graphics and intricate renderings of characters and text. His photographs mimic the intensity of the paintings, yet in a more abstract fashion. Campbell has mounted solo exhibitions in New York, Paris, Tokyo ,Denmark ,The Netherlands, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Morocco. In 1999, he completed his first feature length surfing film, The Seedling, and in 2004 released his second, Sprout and has just completed his 3rd “The Present” in the spring of 2009. Campbell is also part owner and creative director of a small, independent record label based in Santa Cruz,Calif, Galaxia, which has released records by contemporary artists Tommy Guerrero, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Peggy Honeywell and The Black Heart Procession. Galaxia was established in 1993.In 2013 Campbell started an new creative platform called UM YEAH ARTS which is a nexus for the making of books, music and films.
About Geoff McFetridge:
Geoff McFetridge is an artist based in Los Angeles California. Born in Canada, he was schooled at the Alberta College of Art and the California Institute of the Arts. He is part of the Beautiful Losers Exhibition, and makes solo exhibitions from Los Angeles, Berlin, Paris, London, the Netherlands and Japan. McFetridge is a multidisciplinary artist — from poetry to animation, from graphics to 3D work, from textile and wallpaper to paintings, McFetridge has complete control over widely divergent disciplines. He operates the design studio Champion Graphics which has done projects for Nike, Pepsi, Stüssy, Burton Snowboards, Girl Skateboards, Patagonia and many more.
About Andy Davis:
Andy Davis was born in California and grew up between San Diego and Orange Counties. Art became a part of his life at a very young age, after hours of play, he would recreate his experiences of the day by drawing them with crayons. Later doodling became Andy’s escape from the classroom; he dreamed of being on his skateboard, or at the beach surfing. After high-school he was accepted to art school and attempted to play by the rules, however, he felt trapped all over again. This time he was old enough to do things his way so he made the unconventional decision to leave school for good. After years of drawing freedom on paper, Andy had his first real taste and the truth is, he liked it. Today, his brand supplies beach wear to the thousands of cult followers who have remained loyal to Andy’s clothing since the 90’s. Davis currently lives in Encinitas, CA with his wife, Ashley and son Noah. He is a devoted surfer who spends his days at the beach, designing clothing, traveling and preparing for art shows around the world.
About Tyler Warren:
Tyler Warren is a creative individual that enjoys working refined renderings with oil on canvas and pen and ink. His images speak of a timeless era executed with classic style. Often depicting surf related beach scenes, surfing is a big part of his life. As a professional surfer and a surfboard shaper he is constantly in and around the water and surf
culture. He is 28 years old and lives in Southern California and has traveled world wide with his surfing and art, having shown his work at exhibitions in Japan, Brazil and beyond.
About Artists Republic 4 Tomorrow:
Artists Republic 4 Tomorrow is a contemporary art gallery in Laguna Beach, CA dedicated to the support of emerging and mid-career artists who not only make amazing works in the studio, but are leaders in life – travelers, curators, musicians, skateboarders, surfers, teachers, builders. AR4T gallery specializes in original works, prints, books and more. In 2014 we are excited to welcome Vans as a partner in continuing our mission to create a larger platform for new artists.
EXPRESSION SESSION 2 runs September 4-28, 2014 at ARTISTS REPUBLIC 4 TOMORROW, 1175 South Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA. Parking meters free after 7pm. Works are for sale. Gallery hours: Wed-Sun 11am to 7pm. www.AR4T.com.