Archive for February, 2011

Fore

Thursday, February 24th, 2011
 Sculptural Elements

Sculptural Elements

This is number five in the series on Loves. It is actually entitled Four. (Really.) If you understand the play on words with the copy title “Fore”, well then, you “get” Art and Artists. That is a good thing. We like it when people get us. It is why artists do what they do. ART is our love.

Robb Havassy just left, after a 30 hour visit. When he had arrived, I was working through a series of images where I had been subtly taken by surprise at how the ocean had sculpted rather unique looking gems my Canon 5DM2 had managed to catch, while I happily and possibly very quickly, was ducking in to, or out of, a waterbash.  (reads: having fun)

Robb fronts a huge collective of people who have several things in common. The principle of which, is that they are artists, who comprise the cultural tableau that is Surf Culture. One of the interesting things to me about Robb is his surfboard collection. I have taken to calling them bastard children. 350 surfboard sculptures produced by a Corporation, to sit in mall clothing stores across the US.

The children are copies of a surfboard Robb had left at the home of a well know photographer and friend of his. As circumstances would have it, the board was left by Robb as a sort of gift to the photographer (along with a painting) and had been used in a shoot. Then later, copied “to a T”, and placed in stores to help brand and authenticate a company whose modus was “borrowing” from surfing to brand themselves, because in fact, contrary to surf theme inspired companies, this one was completely disconnected from surfing. They were a clothing company. They do not surf nor contribute to the culture. They take. That is their History. Robb’s experience was simply one of many examples the the Company’s branding modus.

Corporate Disclaimer

Corporate Disclaimer

Here is the funny part. On top of coming to Ventura to hang with designer Donna Von Hoesslin and I (creative sparks fly), work on Surf Story Volume 2 (which should publish late 2011), Robb was in town to pick up the first surfboard he had ever shaped, which was produced at the shop of Dennis Ryder.  (If you do not know about Dennis, you really should. Not only is he a historic figure in Ventura Surf Culture, but is a pioneer in surfboard design development.) But Robb was also getting another shaping lesson from me, and doing board# 2.

What got me excited, is that he brought two of the bastards up with him! I had never seen them. You see, Robb got those 350 surfboards back AND a small settlement in a suit against that apparel company. This was the catalyst for our meeting awhile back.

Robb and his bastard children.

Robb and his bastard children.

It had been the proverbial young David, taking on a sage old Goliath. Robb had used the proceeds to fund Surfstory Vol 1, his statement on the authenticity of Art and Culture. That is a done deal. But 350 bastard children remain in a storage unit in OC.

Robb, Donna and I, and now some of the leadership in Project Kaisei, have been brainstorming concepts whereby we may utilize the bastards,  which could really now be construed as cultural effluent, with faux fin boxes and foam gouges where the company logo was removed, and place some value back into the world with his collection of plastic trash.

This resonates with me because I have built close to 40,000 real surfboards. That translates to 40,000 people who developed a relationship with the ocean on something my hands and heart helped conceive. These mall store boards? Though replicas of Robb’s board, they were merely store fixtures, some even with leash plugs built into odd places, to be used for tie down points as the boards sat in malls, silent icons to materialism and faux lifestyle, whispering sweet lies to all who admired what they thought that the bastards stood for. The irony of this hit me instantly when first I heard about Robb. Surfboards are symbolic of people- surfers. They are meant to be magic carpet vehicles¬† to adventure in a watery wonderland.

We became fast friends of course. All of us.

But that is Art, and why Art, is one of my many loves.

Cosmos

Cosmos

Seth Godin has this to say about Art, Artists and Artistry. Simple brilliance. His Art inspires me.

Richard Lang is one of the many bright lights, who as an artist, is collaborating with us on Project Kaisei, plastics awareness, and changing the world through Art. Here is a fantastic video which illustrates how he and his wife Judith do that.

Art is for everybody and can be produced by anyone. Here is a great example of that.

The imagery below in the gallery is a small sample of a collection of refuse. I say trash, because I had overlooked these images in first edit of the collection I just built here in Ventura, California, in what may be a historic benchmark for the ocean this Jan-February, 2011.

I did not frame or intend to build these. They just happened as a result of an accord between perfect meteorological conditions, pristine ocean, and me swimming 57 times with my camera in 34 days. Spawn of my world.

Click on any of the images to toggle through as a slide show.  Foreward!

Three

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011
Galaxy Borne

Galaxy Borne

The third in a series on Loves.

Surfers. Yes, those who ride weather, water and wave. I love them.

The rapid thunk thunk thunk of footsteps atop the wooden stairs that led up to the flat I had rented that morning at Currumbin Beach, Queensland, jolted me out of my jetlag induced reverie. I had been in Australia for less than 12 hours and had somehow managed to get from Sydney to Coolongatta and into a flat with a rental car in that time. Not bad, but I was tired. It was the second leg of the 1978- 1979 Pro tour for me.

An insistent pounding at the door, had me curiously opening it to a tall tanned guy, who looked at me, smiled and said: “Hey, my name is Peter. I hear you are from the States, here to surf the Contest. The surf is good today. Let’s go!” And in ten minutes I had thrown my 5’9″ Progressive twinfin in the back of Pete’s brown Holden wagon, and we were off to my first surf at Duranbah, a punchy beachbreak. As I paddled out, I saw Rabbit threading a crystal clear, aqua blue barrel. Wow. Welcome to Oz!

Pete and I became fast friends by the time I had to leave to make the trek down to Bells for the next event.

A few days before I left, a huge cyclone swell had hit. I had ridden large Burleigh Heads. Pete had said he would be at work, but that I should jump it from the cove up the point. The double to sometimes triple or more times overhead, looming rights, sort of reminded me of Sunset Point on Oahu. I somehow managed to stuff my little twin into a few of the bigger sets, and streaked across the massive azure walls to kick out in front of the swimming pool that was beach side.

That evening I saw Pete,¬† we had a couple 4xes, and I told him about the avo, bummed that he could not be there. “Ah mate, it was okay. I had a good day anyhow”.

A couple months later, back in Santa Barbara, just home from a day working at the surfboard factory, a large letter was waiting for me at the apartment my wife and I shared. It was from QLD. Opening the brown cardboard, I slid out a photo that was inside. It was of me streaking the inside on a triple overhead barrel at Burleigh Heads. There was a note. “Thought that you might like this” and it was signed simply: Pete.

He had been photographing me. I did not even know that he was a photographer.

What I learned from that year on the tour in general, and from Pete in particular, is that surfers are special.

I do not follow professional surfers around, in spite of having been one. To me, surfers are not necessarily the ones whose tax returns read “Professional Surfer”. But they are the ones who live by the laws of earth, sea and God, and having such an intimate acquaintanceship with those elements, frequently manage to show me something special.

Another World

Another World

So I have always welcomed them, and endeavored to live up to the example of my fine Australian friend.

Now about that photo…….

Click on any of the images in the gallery to toggle through this brief edit. Images were shot in the last couple weeks on the Canon 5D Mark 2 system and are part of a new collection of close to 600 images built over the past 5 weeks swimming every day. The surfers are Lars and Hans Rathje, Chris Vail, Larry Ugale, Donna Von Hoesslin, Jeanette Ortiz, Sierra Partridge, Dave and Mary Osborne. I am very grateful to them all. They remind me of Pete.

Two

Monday, February 7th, 2011
Dash

Dash

This is the second installment in this series on many loves. It is about Surfing.

Not many people know exactly why they surf. It just is what they do.

Point of view

Point of view

Surfing  gives a lot to the participant. It often gets to the point of  seeming to be a greedy avocation. The more you get, the better you become at it, the more that it drives you.

I have surfed all of my life. My Dad tossed me in a pool at 4. I swam. He then taught me to bodysurf. I never looked back. Only forward. It is still that way today for me. Indeed, for many of us. Surfing teaches one to look down the line. It can also bestow a certain level of gratitude, that sadly is often lacking in our culture today.

Sublime

Sublime

Not many people know these two things about me:

I have always been a surfboard builder. It is a part of my heritage. I have built close to 40,000 of them in my life. I have hand shaped 15, 999.

I did a surf and weather report on local radio in Santa Barbara for almost 15 years. Rising at 4:30-5 am each day I would do my weather work up, check the surf, and was a part of a live morning radio show. It was fairly common for me to phone the report in from my shaping room in downtown Santa Barbara. I did this at approx 7:20 am each day. Five and sometimes six days a week.

That is a lot of surfboards. And those were a lot of reports.

I did them both for the same reason:

To put something back in to the sport that gave me so much. It was about gratitude. It was about commitment. I do not know how much it mattered in the long run to anyone else, but it mattered to me. Because if surfing and the ocean benefited me, it could positively affect a  culture, and my community.

I am just wrapping my seasonal surf work. I have never produced so much high bar imagery in a series of 27 days swimming with a camera. The Gold Coast, where I live, that stretch of shore that extends from Gaviota to the Los Angeles County Line, has offered up water and weather conditions that were so pristine,  I set a new bar for my surf work.

I have a new editor at Corbis Images. It should be interesting to see if she gets this. Funny thing about raising the bar: you can never lower it.

Pristine

Pristine

It used to be considered common knowledge that you had to leave here to do high bar work. Hawaii, Indian Ocean, anyplace but here. I have proved that it is just the opposite. There is a reason I call my coastline Golden. It really is.

Seth Godin has this to say about where we live and work.

I have again, been amazed at how alive my stretch of ocean is. The number of sharks, seals, dolphins, bait balls, fish, pelicans and other sea birds I have seen is astounding.

The surfers who I have worked closely with the last month are:

Larry Ugale, Lars Rathje, Hans Rathje, Ted Reckas, Jeanette Ortiz, Sierra Partridge, Donna Von Hoesslin, Dean Hotchkins, Chris Vail, Sam Witmer.

The gallery below is a teensy slice of over 500 new works. Short boarding, long boarding, body surfing, skim boarding, SUP riding. Hope that it inspires you. Click on any of the images to toggle through as a slide show.

Everything was shot on the Canon 5D Mark 2 system and has companion motion picture to go with it.

© 2009 David Pu'u. All rights reserved.

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