Posts Tagged ‘Scott Bass’

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!

Metaphysical Momentum: Water Carriers

Monday, April 27th, 2009


Ventura has been in the throes of an art boom the past few years. I have watched amusedly as a diverse group of people have been drawn to our little berg from far flung corners of the earth and served as cultural and intellectual fodder for a renaissance of sorts. Creative seedlings they all are,  putting down root, bearing fruit that the town will benefit from.

No where has this been more obvious to me than in the recent Ventura Film Fest event where during a period of four days, film makers, artists and musicians mingled with a diverse cross section of the public to create an organic phenomenon that served to inspire and connect people.

The driving forces behind the festival are myriad, but when one needs to put a finger on the actual pulse, it was film maker and writer Lorenzo DeStefano whose vision for a festival that focused on interactive participation and community based cinema,  fostered what proved to be a unique experience. Simply put, Lorenzo wanted everyone to come and stay four days. What would arise was intended to be a collaboration of sorts that would motivate both film makers and art enthusiasts of all types to migrate here every year to experience, create and encourage. Though I could only attend for two of the days, my own experience illustrates well what happens when the creative commune. The following is one of many stories that developed.

I had been in an entertaining discussion with Director, Writer and Producer Robert Young, whose fantastic career was being profiled at the festival, when I was reluctantly drawn away  to shoot something.  I was collecting some stills and video footage for the VFF. It was a difficult conversation to leave since Robert was being incredibly generous.

The thing with creatives, is that we like to listen, we enjoy communicating, we drink of each others energies and feed off our collective experiences in a manner which in derivative fashion, expands us as people and artists. There is an enthusiastic charge that pulses through a crowd like the one at the event. You simply step into the flow and it carries you along without much effort on your own part. Easy as a languid swim in tropical waters, the experience is simultaneously  relaxing, and energizing. Once you step in.

I found myself with film maker William Farley, whose film Shadow and Light was to screen later in the day. He wanted a cup of coffee. I wanted to hear more in a conversation that had immediately hooked me: the communication of things spiritual via the medium of cinematography. As we strolled down Main St and into Starbucks we shared some of the fantastic things that we had experienced over the years in the course of our work, where when we simply listened, a project would draw us into another world and show us things, tell us tales, that we would never have expected at the onset.

As he sat down in the City Bus stop next to the Elks Lodge, coffee in hand, William expounded on metaphysical reality, quantum physics and the energy signature that is both our lives and the not so workaday process of listening and communicating the voices we hear via sound, imagery and creative intent. He recounted a few of his startling experiences in working with Native Peoples. I in turn shared a couple of mine, and for a period of time that seemed like minutes but was actually two hours, that bus stop became a heiau, a house on a reservation, a distant shore. We simply waved off the  bus drivers piloting the lumbering beasts past.

The key thing that transported us into the time and reality warp of that bus stop was the re enforcement that yes there are others like us out there. People who peer into a world possibly not evident to all, and whose prescient wish is to share a little of it.¬† Though at times the localized creative process may feel a little like carrying water to a desert, when one has a colleague, the task seems to become it’s own reward. I was so grateful to have been included.

Click on any of the gallery images for a larger view and a little back story on the subject.

© 2009 David Pu'u. All rights reserved.