Posts Tagged ‘Dennis Ryder’


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.



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!

Sacred Craft 2010: A Cultural Backmarker

Friday, April 23rd, 2010
Sacred Craft

Sacred Craft

This morning I woke up from a nightmare-dream at 3:30 am. In the dream I was glossing boards, and had lost the hot batch of finishing resin. I found it in the nick of time, and was just completing the last board as it went off. I even had the acrid smell of an over catalyzed hot batch in my nostrils as I hopped out of bed and felt my feet hit cool wood floor in the blackness. Yeesh, surfboard subliminals. I built surfboards for about 20 years. They have been on my mind a lot lately, obviously.

What makes a¬† thing sacred is found in the root meaning of the very word. Sacred refers to the setting apart of something for a special purpose. So it follows that Scott Bass would call his surf culture show which retains primary focus on the surfboard and it’s creators, Sacred Craft.

Yesterday I saw an un named shot of an old guy at the Sacred Craft tribute, which was held in Ventura at The Fairgrounds April 10th and 11th and that honored one of the surfboard industry’s founding Fathers, Rennie Yater,. The un named shot of the old guy in the shaping room was of Dennis Ryder, who along with Bill Hubbina, started one of the first surf shops in Ventura, (William-Dennis), which still exists today, as Ventura Surf shop.

Dennis Ryder

Dennis Ryder

Dennis shaped what is probably the first incarnation of the shortboard, when he worked production at Morey-Pope and was doing the McTavish split vee in the 60′s. Having him back in Ventura after living for many years in Hawaii is very cool. One of the best guys around, along with Gene Cooper, and Yater, in terms of craftsmanship. All three live here on California‚Äôs Golden Coast

Gold Rincon

Gold Rincon

The Tribute involved shaping a replica of a Yater spoon, which aside from a six channel bottom, is probably one of the more difficult designs to build.

Local shapers Todd Proctor, Matt Moore, Dennis Ryder, Wayne Rich and Michel Junod along with Nick Palandrini from Nor Cal, were the invitees.

The shaper who got the nod for doing the best replica of the Spoon was Wayne Rich. That was very cool, since he broke his neck surfing El Cap a few years ago, and almost did not make it back. An incredible come back, when you consider that he shapes surfboards for a living. Surfboard shaping is physically quite arduous, and demands a very high skill level and depth of experience. Master surfboard craftsmen are a dying breed. Quite literally, as the industry has changed so dramatically and the normal cottage industry apprenticeship chain, disappeared years ago.

Surf Art

Surf Art

There was a hall way formed by two rows of Yaters, and each board had a picture and date on it. Pretty remarkable that Rennie is able to document so much of his and surfing’s past. Just mind blowing. I shaped around 16k surfboards over a 20 year period, and could not even think about accomplishing that. The Surfing Heritage Museum played a large role in this fantastic back marker. The organization had both Curator Barry Haun and¬† head, Dick Metz, on hand the entire week end.

Dick Metz in the Surf Story Hall

Dick Metz in the Surf Story Hall

Surf Story by Rob Havassy (two different site links)

The¬† entire second hall at Sacred Craft was about the book Surf Story, and the book tells the story of its own existence pretty well. Most surfers, if they read about what happened, will probably get a bit pissed off. The actual tale goes all the way back to when Abercrombie purloined one of¬† the legendary Leroy Grannis’ images of a bunch of surf icons and used it in an ad campaign. And when the surfers took exception to that, and having their names and likenesses used to promote a company like A&F (and Hollister), were blown off, they sued A&F and forced the issue on an intellectual property rights violation basis.¬† A&F ran a nationwide ad campaign of a monkey holding a¬† surfboard, as their response to surfing and the people who had a large hand in making the sport what it is after the fact. (Got to admire having enough money and humor to do what they did, but it was a very obvious statement about what they really think of you all)

Then, when Rob’s art was taken, and duplicated in similar fashion, he went after them as well. Since A&F was buying somewhere around 10000 mags a month, the surf publishing industry ignored Rob as he sued A&F, not wanting to piss their vendor off. (It appeared as if surf publishing had sold out the sport, by not supporting one of their own, and instead, going with A&F by their silence, in some industry observers opinions)

So the book uses that as a catalyst. Everybody was invited to contribute, as this is the first of a likely series. So the people not IN the book this time around, are conspicuous in their absence. What that means, is they did not want to be in it, or like me, just did not really understand completely what the book was all about.( Rob would have included them.) I had been very busy when Mary Osborne first told me about the book project. I almost did not get my submission in.

Once again, surf publishing sort of ignored Rob, so he wound up self published the biggest, most comprehensive book on surf culture ever. It was both an independent creative statement to surf publishing, and his war to take back our culture from the people who had whored it out, and have a history of contributing little or nothing to the sport’s existence. (Commercial fashion and the rag business)

Rob's Salute to me for not manning my post

Rob's Salute to me for not manning my post

That is the gist of the story on Sacred Craft 2010, from where I stand. But the ‚Äúlesser details‚ÄĚ are rather fascinating.¬† I intend to write about it in greater detail. Or you can simply ask Rob Havassy or Scott Bass.

The Surf Story Hall housed shows-work, from twelve of the books 88 contributors, as well as a phenomenal selection of highest end Yaters, done as a collaboration between Kevin Ancell and Rennie. Many of the artists were on site plying their disciplines live. Pretty remarkable to watch.

Here are a few images from the show. The pleasant looking guy is Craig Peterson, who along with Kevin Naughton, was among the first surf photojournalists- adventurers from the US, and pioneered much at Surfer Magazine.  Rob Havassy, Craig and I were along the back wall, side by side. I consider that quite an honor. Glad I returned Rob’s call. I had a lot of stories to share with him.

Here is an addendum of sorts, as he just posted it. Seth Godin’s blog, that is a must read for every artist. Glad that Rob Havassy has this part down.

Craig Peterson: Pioneer

Craig Peterson: Pioneer

Get Surf Culture’s book. It is a very profound effort by all. Pure is in short supply these days, and Authenticity is something to be both lauded and supported.


Thursday, May 21st, 2009


Connectedness |k…ôňąn…õkt…ôdn…ôs| noun
ORIGIN late Middle English (in the sense [be united physically] ; rare before the 18th cent.): from Latin connectere, from con- ‚Äėtogether‚Äô + nectere ‚Äėbind.‚Äô

Drew Kampion, co editor of The Surfers Path, to which I am a long time contributor, had dropped a simple note via the inet clothesline: “Hey I cannot believe you have not met Mark Gray, you two have so much in common. Mark meet Dave, Dave, Mark. He is coming down to Sacred Craft.”

Scott Bass, my friend and colleague from Surfer Magazine has formulated a unique cultural event based around the Surfboard as a cultural anchor in society. I was invited to attend. The event is the antithesis of the industry standard: Action Sports Retailer trade show. For when you walk in the door of one of his shows, you experience surfing itself, not some marketing generated facade of what surfing became after it was prostituted to social death. He calls it Sacred Craft. Brilliant concept.

My son Josh, a neophyte music producer, had told me that he and his younger brother Jon, would be performing at the Good Bar on Main St downtown. He calls his current project, Loves Secret Domain.

Jeanette Ortiz (one of my regular models) is soon leaving to study in Spain. Her Mom has a company called Reigns of Hope which I am going to be shooting this week and needed to do locations work for. Time for a family portrait.

A pal had caught up with me earlier this week and asked, “Hey are you coming to the bike race Saturday?” Bike Race?

I grew up as a surfer in Goleta. Graduating over the years from ruining the floor of my parents garage as I built surfboards for family and friends from the age of 12, to my final exodus out of board building at 40 having built close to 40,000 of the things. I competed and surfed the world as a Santa Barbara based professional surfer and board builder.  Roots run deep there. My friends and surf family have literally built the sport and industry.

My other life and world, and where I was allowed and yes, encouraged to be an aggressive type A personality, was in racing, both cars and bikes. I had morphed from competitive swimmer to cyclist at the age of 17 and went into the Olympics Development program. I  actually had two fruitful cycling careers where, largely due to my team, the Santa Barbara Bike Club, I won a fair amount. Though I would no more consider racing a bike today than I would paddling out at third reef anywhere in Hawaii, I have a strong affinity for the people and cachet of both worlds.

Mark Gray arrived and due to a depth of life experience and commonality of interests and manner of approach, we had time tripped the weekend away. He recounted exploits in Japan and beyond and I had  side barred all over the darned map. Our time together caused a flow back and forth that literally felt as if we had been softly thumbing through the pages of the book of our lives. Two live wires  united, for a time.

Connectedness. We could all use a dose. In a time when markets fail,  as things may grow increasingly uncertain, being connected is vitality.

A VERY well produced video that espouses and utilizes connectedness is here. It is from FORD. Yes, that’s right!

An excellent blog by Seth Godin on marketing intolerance and connection is here.

Between The Lines, Scott Bass’ and Ty Ponders amazing film on surfers, war and generational connectedness is here.

There are many things which may keep someone from connecting. Life’s trials and tempo, hardship, insecurity, feelings of inadequacy.¬† But the primary element and ultimately a conductant, is to love em all, both those that do, and those that cannot: connect.

Any image in this blog is a tale unto itself. But as a collage it is a stream of consciousness that today flashes like cards being shuffled at the hand of an experienced dealer.

The gallery below is a sampling from the 16 gigs of camera RAW I collected in about 32 hours. Click on any of the images for a full view as well, at what may be a fascinating back story.

Bon Voyage Jeanette. Enjoy Bracelona!

© 2009 David Pu'u. All rights reserved.