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The Archivist: Paint Drip

An exhibit of surf-art displays, lifted straight off of TSJ’s 30-year-old walls. Stroll deliberately, eye the details.

Light / Dark

Proudly lined up alongside TSJ’s other topical silos, surf art must seem a curiosity, maybe even affectational. At least to those newer to the wider topic.

More seasoned surfers know better.

Our first representations of the act didn’t manifest on a plastic cell phone. They were chipped into stone at ancient Hawaiian surfing heiau. Sketched in india ink on expedition notebooks. Printed as lithographs in monthly journals to illustrate the writing of Mark Twain and Jack London.

Proto-magaziner John Severson—founder of The Surfer—was an artist, photographer, and graphic designer. Of course, he imbued his life’s work with a nod to the expression of his visual surroundings. In the 1970s, Severson’s successor—Steve Pezman—continued The Surfer’s (by then Surfer magazine) inclusion of art, going so far as to devote an entire cover package to the movement.

Since its birth 30 years ago, TSJ has been a de-facto home of surf art—from fine to folk, outsider to kitsch, street to plein air, decorative to transcendent. Indeed, our art reportage had inspired gallery and museum shows, bolstered careers, and turned thousands on to new work.

Waves and people riding them will always constitute our center. It’s our belief, though, that art represents surfing’s finer intricacies in a way that keeps our little house fully whole.