On the deepest level, the pursuit of wave riding has much more in common with high art than it does with sport. Each wave is a once-in-a-lifetime canvas, providing the opportunity for the artist to draw lines whatever way he or she chooses. Whether they are bold or subtle, sharp or sweeping, the tracks of the surfer’s board are the essence of spontaneous creativity: doing an aesthetic dance in the now while at the same time disappearing into the crashing face of the wave, lost forever back into that from which they came. EBB/FLOW, the current exhibit at Bond Avenue’s East/West Gallery, is both enduring and endearing to anyone who appreciates the creation and dissolution of form-even aside from saltwater inclinations.
With 10 percent of the show’s total proceeds going toward Santa Barbara’s chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, EBB/FLOW is a two-pronged homage to the art of surf-a visual odyssey comprised of surf photography from the 1950s to today, and the traveling Fine Lines on Water (FLOW) show that features several originally crafted surfboards. The latter half of the show, curated by visual artist and longboarder Dianna Cohen, consists of works of art that strike a beautiful balance between form and function. FLOW is a high-gloss, sexy, and occasionally sublime collection of artists’ renderings that works on both the eye and the soul, evoking the many moods of the ocean and igniting a lust for the weightless glide that is surfing.
The EBB of the show was organized by Santa Barbara resident Alexis Adler and features both contemporary and historic surf photography from some of the biggest names in the game. From the works of legends like C.R. Stecyk III, Ron Church, and Don James to those of more modern masters like Jeff Divine and Montecito’s Branden Aroyan, the photographic selections complement each other perfectly, providing a complete and beautiful cross-section of the surfing experience. Uniformly matted in white and framed in black, the images wail from the gallery’s walls-each one calling with a stark and stunning siren song, threatening to infect the viewer with the disease of surfing.