INDUSTRY OF MEANING
curated by Skip Engblom and Matt Wessen
in a boarded up beach house on the corner of Abbot Kinney and Venice blvd
The observation of the surf, skate, street, and beach mediums from 1907, when George Freeth first taught surfing in Venice Beach up until present day. Presenting a 100 year retrospective of the creative ripple effect which these mediums have had on culture. Highlighting these 4 mediums and how they have affected the artists to create and perspectively their creativity. Bringing together fine artists, cultural icons and a range of cultural artifacts. Recognizing what was once the fringe obscure counterculture and witnessing how it’s been mainlined into the general culture. With over 50 participating artists in this exhibit; including cultural Icons like Skip Engblom and Jim Ganzer, both who have over 50 years in their respected mediums. In total there is over a millennia of effort. Represented here in 5 immersive exhibition spaces, experience over 1,000 years of culture.
55 + Artists / 15 + Vendors
Scott Anderson, Michael Bailey, Bob Barbour, Jamal Gunn Becker, Nate Bressler, Gabe Boucher, Art Brewer, Jason Briggs, Destin Clover, Pat Conlon, Michael deNicola, Andrew Detrick, Roger Doucette, Skip Engblom, Ned Evans, Nick Fahey, Jason Ferro, Anthony Friedkin, Danny Fuller, Jim Ganzer, Keegan Gibbs, Chase Andrew Hansen, Lyon Herron, Hannah Hooper, Andrew Kidman, Laura Kimpton, Josh ‘Bagel’ Klassman, Peter Kreitler, George ‘Surf 1’ Lochman, Thomas Lynch III, Jon Manheim, DJ Marshall, Takuji Masuda, Barry Mcgee, Jimmy Metyko, Will Milner, Stanley Mouse, Cynthia Nibler, Norman Ollestad, Steve Olson, Dane Peterson, Jonah Reimers, Mikey Ronge, Orion Shepherd, Pascal Shirley, Grant Shumate, Charles R. Smith, Tatsuo Takei, Ryan Thomas, Augustus Thompson, Michael Townsend, Sean Tully, Sage Vaughn, Anna Wessen / Brothers Marshall (Trace Marshall), Crap Eyewear (Peter Nussbaum), DTE California (Bobby Ikeda, Daisuke Takahashi), Indies Trader (Martin Daly), FahrenheitCelsiusWetsuits (Paul Takahashi, Shige Koike), Free & Easy (Kevin Circosta), Freedom Artists (Patrick Jensen), Innocents (Sean Tully), Kassia + Surf (Kassia Meador), Mr. Rock and Friends (Gabe Boucher, Mikey Ronge), The Novogratz (Robert Novogratz), Santa Monica Airlines (Skip Engblom), Summer Bummer (Alexandra Cassaniti), The Ampal Creative (Andrew Potash), Authentic Wave (Tatsuo Takei), Tiny Headed Kingdom (Clifford Selbert, Mark Bailey, Robin Perkins), Verve Coffee (Richard Novak), Yellow Rat (Kio Inagaki)
Where does meaning come from? What sources feed the well of an artist’s mind? How, in turn, is the artist’s toil sustained? The answers are ineffable and yet we can still know them. In the context of this book, going back to when the beatniks first howled in bars and cafes and a coterie of surfers were howling
In the sea—living the metaphor, seeking to embody the excruciating freedom of riding a wave—offers a jumping off place. Like the flap of a wing, a ripple set sail and the thing was born. It churned and burned inside those amphibious beings, its ebb and flow like a wave’s incarnations, sacrificing anything for the weightless glide. In bricks of sweat and penniless passion, instruments were crafted to till the source and nothing more—wood, saws, sandpaper and paraffin. Then like a wind chime to a breeze, like a fish crawling out of the sea, its inertia spilled across pavement. Caressed the metropolis. Contours of concrete. Another sphere to ride. And the walls began to crumble. The pioneers, our rushmore, and their disciples exposed, jumping off one canvas to etch another. While keen observers absorbed—a blue blade of water in a sculptor’s hands, sand forged into glass, refracted light in a photographer’s eye—the mystery recorded. Indelible. Spilling further and farther where a painter’s touch might shed fresh light, carving an arc where you never thought to. A new perspective peeled back. Its echo feeding the source and the source howling in response. Generations conceived. Cradled and dyed by that enigmatic terrain, drift, zephyr that can never be explained. You don’t always see it but you always feel it there in the work. Humming like a fever dream never shaken from its moment of inception. Pow. And here we are.
by Norman Ollestad
In the early 1907 George Freeth, the country’s first surfer, a part-Hawaiian, part Irish arrives in Los Angeles to create an embryonic point for the birth of surfing culture and becomes the first lifeguard of California. Known as a ‘man who walks on water’ he introduces to the public an ancient Hawaiian sport of kings formed on a belief the bigger the board, the higher class in society that person represents. Freeth teaches Duke Kahanamoku, the first person to be inducted into both the Swimming Hall of Fame and the Surfing Hall of Fame, how to swim and how to surf. This was the moment surfing came to America. This was the moment surfing came to Venice.
INDUSTRY OF MEANING, a retrospective hundred-year observation and celebration of art in the four following mediums: surf, skate, street, and beach. A first comprehensive survey of Los Angeles County history of surfing and it’s affect on 50+ local living artists ranging from 19 years old to 75+. A diverse body of artworks created in over five decades and characterized by experimentation, and over millennia of effort, combined. To be able to achieve the show curators Matt Wessen and Skip Engblom, both prolific surfers and founders of LA County Historical Society created a filter: the importance of years of effort spent by each artist in a particular medium, photographs, sculptures, paintings, three dimensional objects, new media, books, zines and art installations. INDUSTRY OF MEANING features collection of rare items that were used to create over 10,000 surfboards and now serve as documentation of self-contained retrospective of lives spent in pursuit of one’s journey of expression. The quest for a perfect wave drives the creatives and sparks friendships. All the artists of the show formed their relationships with Wessen and Engblom in or around the water medium.
An objective of the show is creating an immersive experience for the viewer with flexible yet considered and resolved formats used as an instrument of communication that stimulates free expression in today’s constantly shifting and evolving technological world. INDUSTRY OF MEANING is more of a documentarian mindset than a formal approach.
The outside pieces are a contemporary “geometric” construction fashioned from steel, wood, and resin representing both the industry and nature. Anything starts from here, boats, skateboards, surfboards, houses, and skyscrapers. It’s the conflict between the human hand on earth, environmental distraction and the way we make things while could be doing better. Walking into the INDUSTRY OF MEANING viewer is invited to find himself in a reflection of the pond that serves as an homage to the P.O.P, the Venice pier that burned down in 1975, a landmark for the Z-boys of The Dogtown under which they used to surf where now we have Venice breakwater.
The inside features a repertoire of practices and a collective artistic style of LA living legends and practitioners: Skip Engblom, Jim Ganzer, Anthony Friedkin, and Ned Evans and their continuous and inescapable presence in everything from fashion to product development, street art, and the way Los Angeles culture is portrayed and distributed worldwide in film and design. Those used to justify and legitimize the elite professional skateboarding, surf, fashion, and various artistic mediums. The windows of a beach house turned art gallery are boarded from inside since the world has forgotten about it. INDUSTRY OF MEANING offers a look into the history of Venice Pharaohs that shaped the world we live in while questions a highly relevant modern paradigm of the future, a memory disseminated in the seismic changes that usher in a period of one’s life.
by Anna Wessen