Archive | Art Notes

Art for a Good Cause: A Collab with Jeff “Doc” Lausch

September 07, 2018
By Matt Beard
Surfboards on Parade 2018:
Final Auction: October 07, 2018

Lots of scattered thoughts on this one, not sure how to tie it all together… bear with me.

I’ve been surfing nearly all of my life, and painting nearly even longer. Back in 2011/2012 I had the idea to invite some of my favorite artists to team up with shapers and create unique art boards and sell or auction them to benefit SurfAid International. We called it the Board Art Benefit and to be honest it was really just a bit of a scheme to have some fun but we ended up raising over $30,000 for SurfAid by the time the dust settled. I was also an unlikely culprit to spearhead such an event, being that I’ve only painted a handful of boards in my life and prefer my boards to have no art on them. I truly see the surfboard as functional art already and when used for its highest purpose it is immersed in Creation itself and needs no further adornment.

After we concluded the Board Art Benefit, I was done with organizing artists. We’re nuts, in a good way of course, but still I was a  little burned out from all the work and effort. But I wasn’t done with using my art to raise money for nonprofits and great causes. I went on from that experience to launch AidCurrent (aidcurrent.com), an experimental online tool designed to track an artist’s fundraising efforts. Since I began using it in 2013, I’ve seen my art raise over $44,500 for over 70 different nonprofits.

When Surfboards on Parade began it was exciting to see someone taking the idea of surfboard art for a good cause to the next level. Many of the original artists and shapers from the Board Art Benefit were recruited from the start and produced amazing pieces for the event. In fact if you scroll their facebook photo feed, you’ll see the third photo they posted was actually a cropped flyer for the Board Art Benefit showing the original boards we made for our event. (Linky:https://www.facebook.com/441816709261122/photos/a.450305098412283/450304915078968/?type=3&theater) I wasn’t asked to do a board at the time, but I was still proud to see the work going forward.

As the first Surfboards on Parade event unfolded, raising money to support Hoags’ Hospital Cancer Institute to further education and research for skin cancer, my sister was losing the final battle of her ten year war with skin cancer. We buried her body in Long Beach, CA not far from Huntington Beach where Surfboards on Parade took place.

Did I mention I grew up in Long Beach? The early years of my surfing life took root all over Orange County, from Seal Beach, to Huntington, to Newport, and beyond. I’d go wherever my older brother wanted to go. Surfside Jetty mostly. Or I’d lie to my folks and tell them I was riding my bike to the beach with a friend in order to go alone and find my own peak on the miles of empty stretches between the focal points of the piers and jetties and parking lots. This is where I fell in love with surfing marginal waves in total solitude.

No wonder then, that when I was 18 I went off to school as far from the metropolii of LA and Orange Counties, and fled north to the remote northern coast of Humboldt which is where I reside to this day. Since moving north 25 years ago I’ve pursued my path as an artist relentlessly and regular travels across the entire length of the state eventually became the foundation for my life’s work, painting the entire California coastline, from border to border.  At this point, I’ve painted over 500 paintings of the state’s coast with an average of less than 2 miles between each painting. A life of looking around the next bend in the coast for surf has led to a life of painting every bend in the coast that I can. California is my home. It’s what I know. So it’s also what I paint.

When I was asked this year to paint a board for Surfboards on Parade, it meant a lot to me on several levels. First, it meant the most to me to have this opportunity to honor my sister and use my art to battle the beast called cancer that stole her (and countless others) away from us far too soon. Secondly, for all the shows and events I’ve been part of all over California, this would be a homecoming of sorts- the first major show I’ve been part of along the stretch of coast that shaped my early surfing life. And thirdly, with my background organizing an event that was in many ways a precursor to Surfboards on Parade, returning as a participant is a true honor.

The next question after being asked to participate was what shaper would I work with. I have a tremendous respect for the art of shaping, and like I mentioned earlier I truly don’t think a surfboard needs “art” on it, it’s already a complete work of art. That said, this event was about painting a board so finding the right shaper to collaborate with was important. If I was going to paint a board, maybe only the 4th I’ve ever done (and possibly the last, who knows?), I knew I didn’t want to just paint any old board. I wanted to find a shaper who I could connect with and pursue a vision together.

I chose Jeff “Doc” Lausch to work with for a few reasons. He had done a board in our Board Art Benefit years ago with a different artist and I always appreciated that. But mostly I knew I wanted to work with a Huntington area shaper, and for years my brother ordered boards from him and we’d see him in the water from time to time so there was a personal connection as well. On top of that, he’s a true artist and had even done a board in the past for Surfboards on Parade as a shaper AND artist. Say no more. I was stoked to hear he was willing to work with me.

I wanted this board to be an homage to California, my home. I chose artwork that would epitomize two classic California elements: poppies, and pointbreaks. And since this year’s Surfboards on Parade event was being held in conjunction with the Surfing Walk of Fame, I compiled a list of previous inductees that were from California, and printed their names directly on the fiberglass that the board was glassed with before I painted it in order to highlight this state’s contribution to the sport and culture of surfing.

After the painting was completed the board was returned to Doc for a gloss coast, pin lines, and a hand-made glassed-on fin. The finished piece is ready to be ridden, and I hope it will be at least once. After all it’s a fully functional work of art already… it just happens to have a paint job under the glass.

 

 

 

 

 

“Sarah’s Lemonade” $835

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2018

Price: $835
*all prices subject to change and availability, CONTACT us for more info.
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Notes:

I scour the coast looking for views like this. They don’t always reveal themselves right away. This one took years of following hunches and calculating the risks of trespassing on these multi-million dollar properties. If they can afford real estate here, they might have other homes elsewhere as well, so what are the odds of them even being home at all, right? Besides, even if they were home, if she caught you painting on or near her property, she might just invite you in for a cold glass of lemonade and give you a tour of her house on the hill while showing you the paintings she’s made which adorn her walls.

I have to admit I was hoping for a stronger drink after a long day painting in the heat, but a cold glass of lemonade is nothing to scoff at.

Thank you, Sarah. It was great to meet you and your family. I think you’re really going to love painting in “plein air”. I look forward to painting with you from your front deck with an even-better view one of these days.  I hope your trip to Italy is simply marvelous.

“Vaudevillian Cartoon” $857

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2018

Price: $857
*all prices subject to change and availability, CONTACT us for more info.
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Notes:
Vaudeville [vôd(ə)ˌvil] noun. a theatrical genre of variety entertainment, typically made up of a series of separate, unrelated acts grouped together on a common bill.

Act one: The rugged beauty of a pristine corner of California’s coast.

Act two: Tourists peering out from beneath beach umbrellas while shouting a their kids and inadvertently feeding seagulls who are smart enough to know a distracted parent when they see one.

Act three: Perpetual novice surfers who have all the time in the world to learn to surf, owing to wealth generated from any means other than actual work, but who just bob and paddle around as the wind of their joyously clueless whims blows them.

Act four: A testosterone-fueled circus act where the slightly more experienced surfers demonstrate their skill level by insisting on sitting and taking off closer to the rock than you and thereby botching 4 out of  every 5 set waves.

Enjoy the show.

“One Last Chance”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2018

Notes:
I’ve wanted to paint this one for a long time. Not sure why it took so long, but it was fun to finally take the time to make it happen. It’s not a place I’ve spent a whole lot of time at, but I’ve driven past it dozens of times and made a few memories here and there. Everytime I see this place I remember one of the first times I was here, over 20 years ago. I was maybe 21 years old, just a kid really. I wound up staying in a hostel tucked away just at the bottom of this hill. I arrived at the last light of day and was looking forward to getting up early and enjoying some of the small clean waves I saw out front before heading on to wherever I was going the next day. At first light I awoke and slowly, quietly, gathered my belongings and softly made my way to the door so as not to disturb the other travelers still soundly sleeping. Well, all but one. She was at the door before me, perplexed and fumbling with the handle. In hushed tones she explained to me the door was locked, with no way to unlock it without a key, which was not to be found. Really? Together we strategized the finest plan ever put into action. Running out of options, it was likely our One Last Chance to break free. We did what we had to do.  We climbed out the window. I know you were hoping for something more dramatic, but what can I say? That’s all there was to it. After a quick embrace, like captives about to go our separate ways after a daring jailbreak, we parted into the misty morning. The waves did not disappoint and to this day I have not seen it as good since. But still I always look forward to seeing it again, and marvel at the hostel that locked it’s visitors in at night.

“California’s Dream”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2018

Notes:

This is what the California Coast dreams about while she’s sleeping in during the May Gray/June Gloom…

She sees a distant marine layer and no other clouds in the bright clear sky. She sees the shade of an old Eucalyptus. The tree itself both invasive, and beautiful, and loved – a rare combination. Indeed, she is saddened by the thought of life without the mighty twisted Eucalyptus growing from her earth and part of her hopes it never comes to pass.

She sees the memories of her adolescence, the old rail, the lifeline that connected her various towns and settlements when she was just coming of age and didn’t know the difference between a scoundrel and a gentleman.

She sees the running barbed wire fence placed to keep the cattle in place, another reminder of her adolescence when shots fired from a rider on horseback could signal fear, or theft, or love, or life, or all of them at once.

She sees a couple of painters standing over this vista scribbling away at their canvas, while sipping cold beers as a herd of cattle is moved down the road behind them.

In a moment of lucidity, she wakes within her dream to wonder what it means. She asks a man who smiles beside an old faithful Toyota truck and offers her a beer as well. It is then she hears the answer coming from the open cab of the truck and spoken to the wind through the crackling voice of a young Bob Dylan.

“From the Grave to the Cradle” $985

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2018

Price: $985
*all prices subject to change and availability, CONTACT us for more info.
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Notes:
A funny thing about life, that you don’t really ever consider the miracle of your birth until you’ve truly reckoned with the reality of your impending death. Standing here, two feet planted firmly on the path to the cemetery (let the reader understand), this is the first time I ever laid my eyes upon the moment of conception (again, let the ready understand). When confronted with metaphor of this proportion there is no need of a horizon line, that usual separator of the known and unknown is no longer relevant when faced with this stark reality. There is nothing really to do now but just stand here and look back at your life and face the rushing wind as it hollows out the spaces in your soul that turned to stone while you were busy dreaming of the points in between the Grave and the Cradle.

“Endangered Spaces”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2018

Notes:

It had been a long time since I’d explored these trails. I don’t recall them being quite so constricting. I was looking forward to spending the day out here, associating the open space with solitude and quiet freedom. A relaxing day, maybe find a little nook in the sandstone with a view and some shade. But it was not to be. This was a far busier place than I’d expected. Constant streams of visitors flowing over the clearly marked paths, some of them park volunteers with the authority to smack you with a fine for the slightest violation or stepping off the path. But I do understand the need to regulate the space. The sheer volume of human foot traffic here would be a disaster without regulation. These cliffs erode at the slightest suggestion and the hardy coastal scrub can only handle so much trampling before giving way to bare dirt and accelerating the already alarming pace of erosion.

The irony is the folks coming here to find solitude in nature are finding beauty, but that beauty is surrounded with more restrictions than an average shopping mall. Fitting then that this painting location featured a steady stream of teenage girls taking selfies, having me take their selfies, talking about their selfies, good grief… where is the food court already? Oh wait that’s right, no food allowed here. Really. It’s a rule I found out later. One group of girls sat on a nearby bench talking for almost an hour weaving a conversation of spanish and english and laughter. As this painting neared completion one of them became very excited, “Oh my gosh, this was sooooo amazing watching you. I’ve never seen anyone, you know, paint, like, what they see, you know? I don’t know, it just makes me feel soooo calm, you know?”  I do know, and it does make one feel calm, but I am very glad she noticed and thought it was pretty cool that she’ll see art differently from this day forward…

“Walking a Fine Line”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2018

Notes:

My work takes me to remote locations way off the beaten paths, other times it sends me right into the most crowded shoulder to shoulder tourist zones you can find. If this particular state park is as serious about keeping folks on the trails and preventing erosion as they say they are, its only a matter of time before these trails are replaced with a fixed raised boardwalk to prevent a foot from ever falling on the fragile earth. But I digress… back to this day… Due to the high volume of traffic arriving at the overlook, I thought it would make sense to not set up in the small area, often crowded with visitors jostling for a view, so I set up just outside the railing, standing on the concrete footing the park had poured around the fencing, not tromping around, no harm, no foul, and everyone had a great view. After about 30 minutes I was approached by a park volunteer who threatened a $400 fine right off the bat for my standing outside the railing. No conversation whatsoever, just apparently thrilled to have a reason to exercise his authority, but I don’t get it. I’m on the team! I’m with you, not against you, man! Look where I’m awkwardly standing to avoid any appearance of tromping around out here? No? No. Ok, I’ll keep the rest of my thoughts to myself and relocate my whole apparatus. Thanks. No, I don’t want your help.  Later up at the car, I’m enjoying a beer on my tailgate as is my custom after a long day painting in the sun nearly everywhere when a lifeguard truck rolls by, clearly eyeing my van. I quickly replace the beer with a water bottle and chat with him as he informs me casually that technically no food or drink is allowed in the park. I offer him some chips and salsa. After he leaves, a park ranger truck pulls into the now nearly empty lot and sits idling just 20 feet away directly facing me. Not moving, not taking notes, just full on mad-dog staring me down. What have the people done here to make this place so insane? It’s beautiful, but it’s like walking on a razor’s edge trying not land on the wrong side of another rule or regulation or just an old-fashioned imbalance of power. Think I’ll go now. All this nature is stressing me out.

“Succulents, Rust, and Enlightenment”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2018

Notes:

No matter what our goals in life, if they are worth pursuing, there are barriers set in our paths that can hinder or prevent us from attaining them. Bear with me while I get symbolic here, I don’t do this very often, but in hindsight this painting practically demands it…

The first barrier is represented by the cactus. It is a natural barrier, bursting forth from the dry earth on its own accord. We tend to go around it rather than through it, and for good reason. This is the barrier of our natural limitations, our bodies, our hunger, our strengths, our weaknesses.

The second barrier is the rusty barbed wire fence. Designed to keep us in place, we might look for a gap in the fence, but much like the cactus, we don’t mess with the barbed wire. Tetanus is no fun. This is the barrier the world sets before us. It’s not a natural thing, it’s the stuff we create as humans, money, jobs, status, etc. These things can all derail us from the desires that have been placed on our hearts that define who we truly are.

And now for enlightenment, although I may not be going where you think with this. The house on the hill here belongs to a Self Realization Fellowship. These folks have enlightenment on speed dial. Good for them, but that is no virtue in my book. In fact they are the ones that put up the damned fence in the first place. Too much enlightenment seeking can ruin a man.

Each of these can be a hindrance to a life well lived, tread carefully and get after what matters. You’ll know it when you find it. Cheers.

“Guns and Flowers” $820

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2018

Price: $820
*all prices subject to change and availability, CONTACT us for more info.
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Notes:

A brief stopping point in the middle of one of California’s Coastal military bases. Access is difficult in these zones so I resorted to painting from a roadside viewpoint, just a quick row of parking spots for travelers to pull off the highway and snap a photo or two of the sunset, or themselves, or both. There wasn’t a whole lot of room to explore, just a narrow fenced in strip around the perimeter of the carpark. I contemplated painting the cars themselves and thought better of it as this place is really for me defined by the open space carved out for military purposes and not so much a civilian destination. Miles of rolling hills, many now alight with blooming mustard flowers of spring, have been left in a more or less natural state here, free from the certain development that would cover this prime coastal real estate with just so much of the same as everywhere else, and for this, I salute our armed forces. Speaking of the military, those helicopters are loud. The first 45 minutes were fairly quiet while painting, but then came the thundering skybirds in steady and rapid succession for the remainder of the session. I had the distinct sense they had noticed what appeared to be a very curious hobo lurking near the carpark with an odd array of equipment strewn about the ground around him. I’m never quite sure how my program looks to an outside observer, especially from the air. But either way, I could see them staring out as they circled periodically. I waved a few times, but never saw my gesture returned. It’s quite possible, and highly likely they were just doing their flight practice and training completely oblivious to me down below, but either way I was glad of their presence, as it gave me ample opportunity to observe their hovering forms in the sky and sneak one into this painting of an otherwise idyllic pre-development scene of coastal southern California.

“The Way it Was”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2018

Notes:

I was on assignment here, asked to paint this iconic Southern California headland The Way it Was before the highway and houses came along,  without any signs of human presence. It would require some careful editing of the developed landscape. Speaking of careful handling of the landscape, it would also require some careful stepping through a plant rehabilitation zone WAY off the main trails. I would ordinarily avoid such questionable practices, but when the state park folks decide inexplicably to lace the entire hillside with trails and NONE of them lead to the rim of the bluffs that overlook this white-sand beach and scenic headland I can only scratch my head in wonder. Give the people a trail and they may well stay on it if you ask them too, but take away the trail and you’ll fight a losing battle with the masses intent on finding their own path to the view. I try to be good really, I do. It was quite a tip toe, avoiding stepping on any sign of life as I picked my way through the scrub and out onto the rim, finding a nice clearing between some high shrubs that would conceal me nicely from the eyes of all, especially the eyes of the rangers, and double especially the eyes of the ranger that I had just asked about which trails would lead to a good view of the headland. I knew right then, that something was up because of her awkward uncertainty. Really? You’re a park ranger and you can’t tell me with conviction where the best views can be found in your park? Get out. I’ll find it myself. With or without a trail, thank you very much. And that’s what I did… not to make anything more or less of it, it’s just The Way it Was that day.

“Drip Castles” (Thinking of Chris Lundy)

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 24″ x 18″
Year: 2017

Notes:
I was scheduled to do some live art today at a local event here in Humboldt, a culinary event celebrating… well, Spam, of all things… but also with some live music so I figured I’d zone out, angle for some free beers (which were kindly provided) and figure something out as I went. Shortly before heading out the door, I learned of the passing of one of the greatest surfing artists of all time, Chris Lundy.

I never met the man, Chris Lundy, but I’ve been met by his art many times over the years. It’s an experience. It rushes up to meet you face to face with a spray of salt and mist. Electrifying, and dazzling, somewhat disorienting. Like a seriously complex jazz number made of water frozen in some off-beat time signature that only the great jazz minds can comprehend.

I’m on the outside of this jam session. A good old punk rock 4/4 guy standing in the back of the hall, admiring the real magicians who can play along to this strange melody- artists like my friend Spencer Reynolds, who seems to have studied the genius of Chris Lundy’s songs and internalized their syncopated rhythms. He’s one of the only artists I know of, who could jump into a Lundy performance and play along, adding to the song in his own way, without distracting from it all.

It’s appropriate then that as I painted this piece thinking of Chris Lundy, praying comfort for his family and friends in their time of loss, that this personal meditation on his visual music contains distinct undertones of the work of my friend Spencer Reynolds. Not that this painting of a wave cracking on a white sand beach in a slightly different dimension does either of their work justice, its just a sort of personal homage to two amazing artists, one of them gone from us too soon. The other is only in Oregon.

Look them both up if you aren’t familiar. You won’t regret it.

 

“Mushroom Hunting”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2017

Notes:

They sit motionless, watching passively. Not engaged in the passage of time like you or I, yet not outside of it either.

We travel the world, searching for new experiences, new understandings of what it is to be alive.

They watch us come and go and always return again to their steady gaze, changed, yet somehow always the same. They have no need for comings and goings, yet they do not mock us. They know better. They have seen enough to know that our days are short, unlike theirs.

They’ve seen our births, they’ve seen our joys, our fears, our love, and our tears. They’ve seen us wed, and they’ve seen our blood shed, by hate, by sorrow, by intoxication, by miscalculation. They’ve seen our recreation, our red tape, our revolutions. They’ve seen our wars, our battles, our nobles, our scoundrels. They’ve seen us die. They’ve seen our burials, our burning bodies, our ashes scattered amongst them.

This is their secret, knowing without any effort, that if they wait a little longer, they will see it all.

If you are still, and you can hear the silence between the rumbling oceans, you just might even hear them sing. Each has a different voice, one loud, one soft, one strong, one deep, one high, one low, and one with voice of our Grandmother.

“Sometimes You Don’t”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 16″ x 12″
Year: 2017

Notes:

Sometimes you’re a Spanish explorer looking for Monterey bay on an overland journey from San Diego over 200 years ago with 63 soldiers and more than a hundred mules.

Sometimes you’re driving around in a large van painting the California Coast on your way to a music festival a few hours north of Monterey Bay.

Sometimes you miss Monterey bay due to fog and end up way off target above Santa Cruz.

Sometimes you end up on a several hour goose chase driving around on the unnamed farm roads above Santa Cruz hoping to paint the view of the vast Pacific from a field of artichokes despite a howling wind.

Sometimes your soldiers are sick and need some rest so you stop at a beach with a windsheltered bluff and a clean flowing creek.

Sometimes you give up on the artichokes in the howling wind end up at a beach with a windsheltered bluff and a clean flowing creek.

Sometimes everyone in the camp gets diarrhea.

Well… sometimes you don’t.

And sometimes after everyone recovers you continue on and become the first Europeans to discover San Francisco bay instead.

And sometimes you paint a little painting like this instead.

“And They Will Ask”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2017

 

Notes:

No roads in, no roads out.

Washed out 40 years ago.

Just this narrow footpath remains.

Yet they live here.

And walk this path daily.

Packing life in and out on their backs.

Even the children know who belongs and who doesn’t

And they will ask.

If you give a wrong answer, I’m not sure what they will do.

Don’t give a wrong answer.

It’s a certain kind of heaven here.

But there is a certain kind of hell around the corner.

Complete with fast food and poison.

 

You’d keep them out too if you could.

“Ones and Zeroes” $495

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2017

Price: $495
*all prices subject to change and availability, CONTACT us for more info.
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Notes:

It was only a lifetime ago, that we stood here and watched, scanning the horizon for very real threats. It was a different time, when triangles and protractors could save the world, and ones and zeroes just belonged to the hobo’s walking the rails.

It was only yesterday we stood and watched, scanning the horizon for lightning, long out of range and out of season. Everything’s different now. No need to reminisce. Anything we need, we can pay for with ones and zeroes.

So close we could almost feel the blast. A flash of light. A child screams. But there is nobody left to put up a fight. Just some ones and zeroes.

We never saw it coming because we sold the watchtower, and carved the earth from it’s foundation. It still stands, hovering and weightless above the earth and sea. Inaccessible for all but the names of the fallen, written on the walls with triangles, but traded for ones and zeroes.

I shelter in the book of names, their colors shade my vision. The falling mist and threats of passing showers cannot hinder me now. I am hidden by ones and zeroes.

“More Than Wind”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2017

Notes:

I had just finished a piece from the other side of this hill looking up the coast to the north. As I painted that one, what started as a windless day quickly changed. The whitecaps had enveloped every piece of water in sight, inside the kelp, around the headlands, pretty much game over for painting outdoors. But before leaving I wanted to see the view from the other parts of the hill and when I looked out over this side, I saw this painting. Right then, right there. The warm iceplant in the foreground, the cool windcapped sea, the distant fog bank, all of it.  

I knew I wanted to paint it, but fighting a stubborn cold, and after wrestling the last one to completion in the wind, I was rather beat. What to do? Come back another day? But there was plenty of daylight still left. The surf wouldn’t be good anywhere. But still, nothing in me wanted to push on at the moment. I headed back down the hill to the van to consider my options.

Now I’m not too good at religion, but still I often talk to God and believe God speaks to us as well. Call me nuts. It’s all good. You may be right. I asked God what I should do, unsure if it was a good idea to push myself back up the hill and keep working. Don’t worry, the answer wasn’t an audible voice, but distinct all the same, it was a thought not my own. “You are man, you are made of mountain.”   Okay…

Now whatever you make of that, it had the effect of getting me all fired up and back up the hill I went with a fresh canvas. 3 times it blew off the easel. Once, it hit me in the face (a first). It never held still. I had to hold the easel with one hand while painting with the other. I yelled, fought, and wrestled. It takes more than wind to level a mountain.

“Passing Shadows”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 16″ x 12″
Year: 2017

Notes:

Passing clouds cast shadows of doubt across the rolling hills. Would it rain? Would it hold out? Would the wind come up and blow it all away? The short trail up was full of the oddest switchbacks you’ll ever see. Paved path 50 yards to the left, then 50 yards to the right, to gain a mere 10 feet with each run of the gauntlet. A bench with a view at every right turn. 5 or 6 of them, one above the other stacked up the hillside- ornaments for the Mother of All Switchbacks paved in all her bituminous glory. Hikers, joggers, headphones blaring, baby strollers zipping this way that way, a choreography of life unfolding up and down this hill. Metaphor on metaphor coming on strong, hitching rides on the passing shadows. Halfway up the hill, maybe on the third bench she sat. Unstable. Speaking to the unhearing ears, drowned out by fitness podcasts, she trailed off her sentences with laughter, but void of joy as each one passed. I too had to pass her by, my back burdened with gear and blank canvas, nothing to offer at this time but a piece of my silent heart. She is somebody’s daughter. She locked eyes as I approached. “In five years this could be you…” and she awaited my response as she reverted to her unsettling laughter. “I hear you” was my unthinking reply, and my mind continued “could be me in 5 days” as my own heart laughed at the thought of just how close we all walk that line even on a good day. I hope the shadows pass her by.

“The Beach”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 10″
Year: 2017

Notes:

Sleep on couches, sleep in cars, whatever it takes to get by. Duck dive. Paddle. Duck dive. Paddle. Duck dive. Paddle.

Get a job. Better yet, start your own thing. Duck dive. Paddle harder. Duck dive. What? Duck dive again.

Lose a job, laid off by the boss that’s half your age. Whatever. Keep getting by. Paddle like mad. Duck dive. Paddle harder. Duck dive. Underwater backflip. Neat. Two quick strokes. Duck dive.

Get a place of your own. An old house with an even older landlord. No english spoken. Maybe dutch, or german. Simple life, walk to the beach. Paddle a bit further. Just outside the inner bar now. Check the shore, mind the drift.

Back to work. Side jobs keep coming. Who needs a real job? Head down. Keep busy. Race for the horizon between sets, maybe sneak through unscathed.

Landlord dies. What’s next?  Dark wall looms on the outer bar. Scratch like hell at the leaden water.

Nephew inherits place. He’s got plans. You’re not part of them. Not gonna make it. Forget the duck dive. Straight up dive for deepwater.

Back to the car and couches. Fewer couches now. Seems everyone else has been caught inside too. Car it is. Whatever it takes to get by. Swim in. Recover board on The Beach.

Not broken.

 

*sidenote: to this day I have never ridden a wave here, only paddled around in vein

“All that Remains”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 10″
Year: 2017

 

Notes:

Cerebral flapjacks cooking on the whiskey bar
Artificial roller coaster couldn’t beat the bumper car
Creepers in the bushes don’t look now it aint no good
Sterilize, sanitize, scrub it kook, give em all your food

Paint the cave, take a bath, what about the money
Stick parade, children laugh, hide them from the sun
Drink the water, drink the brine, eat the fish and honey
Leave a tip, exit quick, once the eatin’s done

Sun and wind, electric eels, drying on a line
The pizza burned the house down and blamed it on the wine
Our feet are wet with old concrete the romans laid to last through time
We checked the clock the time ran out but they said they didn’t mind

How about the old ones, still soaking in the past?
The love they made, the things they said, none of which would last
They wrote their names upon the walls like flowers through the cracks
They killed the sky, they drowned the moon, they wrote them loud and fast

Look around, make no sound, what is it we have gained?
This is it, nothing more, this is all that still remains

“Unorthodox”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2017

Notes:

Sunday morning.

Somewhere under a cathedral ceiling the choir is singing an old song.

Out here under the open sky the choir sings the oldest song.

Somewhere under a cathedral ceiling, a “contemporary worship team” is singing a new song.

Out here under the open sky, the choir sings the newest song.

The angels sing softly on the wind, they roar like thunder on the water.

They’ve sung from the beginning.

Unceasing.

They’re still singing now.

They’ll sing until the end. Maybe even longer.

I worship out here with color, because I usually sing out of key.

When I am finished, I will go sing badly in the cathedral. I enjoy those songs too. Or perhaps I won’t sing at all, but still I will hum along.

But I will go at night, because the morning is full of light.

“Eat the Rich”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2017

Notes:

Buy it all. Claim it. It’s all yours. Then what?  Put up a fence. A bunch of little signs telling us to stay out of the places we’ve always gone?  Lock the gate? Threaten us with arrest? Threaten us with violence? Have fun with that. We know who belongs here and nobody paid our admission. It was given freely at birth. And at our parent’s birth. Generations back to the founding of the earth. Do what you will to keep us out of what you think you now own. We don’t want what is yours anyway. We want nothing to do with you and your financial plans. We barely see you at all. We’ll go about our day from dawn to dusk, we will wear you down. Even if you buy a victory from the sellers of legal trinkets at the courthouse market, you’ll still lose. We know who you are, and we know who we are. That is all the permission we need. Stop one, two, a hundred of us. You haven’t scratched the surface. You’ll think you’ve won at night, but in the morning we’ll still be there on the beach you think you own building a fire on which to roast your unguarded joy. You forgot to keep it in your sight when you chose to guard your possessions instead. Without any effort at all, we’ll toss it on the fire, kept hot and burning with your arrogance. We’ll slowly devour it and wash it down with whiskey and coffee. And even then, you are welcome to join us. After all, it’s not our beach.

 

“Don’t Eat Us”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2017

Notes:

Pristine beach. But after the first impression of paradise subsides, one is greated by the scattering of utter filth left behind by those who were here before. Oh, I know it’s not me or you, it’s Them of course.

Sure, this painting makes it look rather nice, and no doubt if you make it down to this beach and wander far enough from the access points, you’ll find a truly beautiful remote beach, but along the way you’ll have to close your eyes to some hard truths about your fellow humans.

It’s just trash, I know in the big picture many would say that’s a small thing. It’s not nuclear war, it’s not systemic genocide, it’s not violent oppression. Its not even close to that. It’s just people, broken and flawed as we all are, looking to get away from the stress of their hollow lives, in need of release, getting back to nature, howling at the moon, reveling in friendships, in love, in a beautiful reckless abandon.

But the Beast that is Us devours everything.

Forgive Them, They know not what They do.

Forgive Us, as we forgive Them.

Amen.

“Juxtaposition”

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 16″
Year: 2017

Notes:

What’s in a name?

Just a few days earlier I’d surfed a spot hundreds of miles north, that goes by the same name as this one. Unknown to me at the time, a memorial was being held for a local surfer who’d recently passed away while surfing there.

The morning I woke up to make the 6 hour drive south with this destination on my mind to kick off this road trip, I was jarred by the news of another man’s passing. One I had just met for the first time a few weeks prior on my last road trip. I had known of him for years though, and I was keenly aware of all he had done for artists all over the world. He had launched careers, lifted up the struggling, showcased what others overlooked. I just wanted to shake his hand and say hello and it was an honor to do so, and now there would never be a follow up to that encounter.

Life is final like that.

And it’s precarious while it lasts. Like an urban wilderness. It’s there, giving of itself to any who will appreciate it, but it’s often trampled, misused, overlooked, and in a blink of an eye the bulldozer’s come and finish it. A juxtaposition of love and indifference.

Damn the bulldozers. Slow down and enjoy what matters while it lasts.

And if you ever have the chance to name a surf spot, please call it Life.

“Stick a Fork in It” $475

Medium: Acrylic on Canvas
Size: 20″ x 10″
Year: 2017

Price: $475
*all prices subject to change and availability, CONTACT us for more info.
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Notes:

I’ve been on the road for a week and a half. I’ve slept in my van in grocery store parking lots, picking ticks off my face that must have crawled out of my painting gear as I slept. I’ve wrestled the sun and cursed at the wind. My back is tired, my feet ache, my lips are chapped, and the distinct itch of poison oak is catching up with me from a week of exposure. I’m heading home tomorrow, but today I am here.

The sun had grown tired of my grumbling and refused to join me for this last effort. The waters will not be illuminated today. The air is full of mist. My mind is full of other places I’d like to be. Home, mostly. But today I am here.

One last round with mother nature. It’s not a victory song, it’s funeral march, as Leonard Cohen would say, it’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah.

I long to see this coast in another light, on another day, and perhaps I will in the not too distant future. But today I am here, and I cannot deny this moment. There is joy in the muted earth, joy in the slow passage of time, joy in the rumble of ocean below.

But I also cannot deny the joy of completion. Stick a fork in it. I’m done.

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