Saturday, December 31, 2011

Gathering boards for PST exhibit. This is a symmetrical Ekstrom V-bottom from '68,
a "control" board to be shown with Mirandon Twin Pins. Note the swallowtail motif in
the pinlines. Collection of Mike Bonaguidi.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Simmons theory in action: dynamic lift generated by high and low pressure along the leading edge of the foiled rail, guided by two small directional stabilizers placed along the rail where pressure is highest. Trans span flow diagonally across the bottom of the board like an aquatic airplane wing. Board is 35 lbs and made of solid wood, yet it is on a rail and accelerating rapidly. Explain what is going on here and you will explain a lot about the foundation of modern performance surfboard design.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


"Pacific Standard Time is a collaboration of more than 60 cultural institutions across Southern California coming together to celebrate the birth of the L.A. art scene. Through the exhibitions of Pacific Standard Time , you can discover how the Southland became a great center for art and culture." - from PST exhibition guide.

A few months ago I went with Carl Ekstrom to inspect two pieces of his that were installed at the Mingei Museum for something called Pacific Standard Time, which is a massive collaboration of Southern California cultural institutions initiated by the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles. I went home and did some research and found that the Getty had been working on this massive joint effort for 10 years. They were on a mission to define and contextualize art and culture in Southern California from 1945-1980. The scope of Pacific Standard Time was broad: ceramics, conceptual and perceptual art, cultural identity and politics, design and architecture, the history of art spaces in Southern California, painting and sculpture, performance art, and photography and print making.

I then learned from John Van Hammersveld that PST was accepting proposals from independent galleries. So with two days left before the submission deadline I rushed together a proposal that focused on the work of Bob Simmons, Carl Ekstrom, Steve Lis, and Nick and Bear Mirandon...all of whom did their thing within the time frame of 1945-1980. I sent the proposal to the Getty. A month went by and I almost wrote it off. Then I received an email congratulating Hydrodynamica on being accepted to participate in PST.

I see this as an opportunity to continue telling a story, through surfboards and surfing, that had a tremendous impact on cultural identity in society and on the lives of individuals. Not just in California, but everywhere. Context is everything. If the story of surfing is only told from the perspective of "sport" we miss out on an incredibly rich saga filled with individuals who pioneered not just new ways to ride waves, but new ways to live. PST is a chance to acknowledge the role surfers played in Southern California's creative realm during those years.

The more PST exhibits I visit the more I see a narrative and a story coming into focus. The forms and materials of post-war modernism in California from 1945 through the 1970s were used by surfers and reflected back to and absorbed by artists, designers, architects...and vice-versa. There is a relationship between a 1948 Simmons planing hull and a 1948 Thomas Church swimming pool. Look and see. Aerodynamic form. Curves and lines. There is a relationship between the monolithic polyester resin sculptures of Dewayne Valentine and the monolithic resin laminated boards of Simmons and Quigg. Surfers were not bit players in this drama of mid century California culture. They were in leading roles alongside the Shulmans, the Eames', the Churchs, and the rest of the cast...

Los Angeles has always felt shadowed by New York in the realm of art. PST is an attempt to come out of this shadow. San Diego is in an even deeper shadow cast by Los Angeles. But look into the story of surfing in Southern California from 1945-1980 and you will see intense interaction, especially in the 1940s and 50s, between San Diego and Los Angeles, particularly between Malibu, Windansea, San Onofre, and the Tijuana Sloughs...and where did these guys turn their attention? To Hawaii...and that's real root of all this stuff. Surfing in California came from Hawaii, and eventually went back to Hawaii transformed by post war materials like resin, foam, and fiberglass. George Downing and Bob Simmons patching a board together in L.A. in 1948? It of many milestones from that time. Could write a book about that one alone.

Hydrodynamica : Remember the Future opens on Saturday, January 28th 2012 4pm-10pm.
325 15th Street, San Diego, 92101 in the Space4art galleries and Hydrodynamica/Loft 9 gallery.
Through March 10th 2012. Public viewing hours Tuesday through Saturday 10 am - 4 pm.

Support from friends at Volcom is helping to make this possible :)

Friday, December 16, 2011

the Golden Mean Machine...

The Golden Mean Machine. Shaped by Daniel Thomson for the Hydrodynamica Project 12/14/ 2011 middle photograph of 1950 Simmons Motherboard by John Elwell.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

DT & the birth of the golden mean machine...

DT & M.M. Professor Tubing 1.61803398874989

Thursday, December 8, 2011

'cause connecting is good...

Monday, December 5, 2011

...the Future

Daniel Thomson (top) and Ryan Burch. Frame grabs by Sean Shafer 12/4/2011


1950 Simmons planing hull photographed by Ryan Field.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Thursday, December 1, 2011


DT: 3 steps ahead of the Jokers. photos by Dave Frankel

low country

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Surfer's Journal 20.6

Surfer's Journal 20.6:
Excellent piece by Kimball Taylor on Simmons on Oahu in 1953, Quigg on Simmons, Kivlin and who did what first in the late forties at Malibu from a 1997 interview, RK piece on planing hull master stylist Tyler. Warren.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Daniel Thomson: Modern Planing Hull continued...

I've been hanging with Daniel recently, getting a full update on his latest applications of Simmons concepts to ultra-progressive design. Daniel recently won "Best in Show" at the Sacred Craft surfboard exposition/gathering with this particular design, which is the closest to his ideal of performance yet. (It was his second win at Sacred Craft) Yesterday morning we met up at a little reef/sandbar known locally for its junky unpredictabilty. There was one kid in the line-up, he was riding a bellyboard of his own design. He came out of the water and gave a full break down on his concepts. His inspiration? Simmons. I didn't catch his for now he's known as the Prestwick Kid. This beach is where Simmons rode his last wave...its were Butch Van Artsdaalen rode Al Nelson's little 5'6" twin fin in's where Nick Mirandon and Chris Prowse blew minds in 1967 on twin-pinned spaceships, and a stone's throw from Big Rock,
where Steve Lis did the same on his Fish. Its where Ekstrom rode his asymmetric in 1965.
Its funny, even in those times the status quo resisted. But the guys with the new stuff? Too stoked to care. Its the same today. Daniel went out yesterday and took what the ocean offered up, and had a blast. His board has carefully applied concepts, heavily inspired by Simmons,
and the more Dan feels it working the more frothing and stoked he gets. As for the Prestwick Kid? Keeping an eye on him for sure.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Gloss & Polish

"The derogatory term "finish fetish" was devised to patronize those artists, who were deemed superficial for their excessive concern with surface. But that in itself was a superficial observation: it was only if the surface was perfect, the counter-argument went, that deeper resonances in a work could be observed.

..."Finish fetish" might have been a movement of it's time but also expressed a more timeless artistic concern: the desire to create a kind of perfection.

But we know, in our relativised age, that there is no such thing. The yearning for flawlessness will always be compromised. 'Gray Column" movingly tells this story. Its otherworldliness is, after all, of the world. Its hypnotic translucence might captivate us but we are not in the presence of 2001's monolith. Its ulterior concerns are human, all too human."

- a Perfect Realization, Peter Aspden, Arts, Financial Times 9/4/11

Photo: Pair of new hand made boards by Carl Ekstrom, who freely admits his obsession with surface and finish.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

"Gray Column" is a hefty sculpture made by the Colorado-born artist De Wain Valentine in the mid-1970s. It is shortly to go on display at the Getty Center in Los Angeles and will doubtless evoke some memories, not because anyone has seen it before - it has never been shown in public - but for its striking resemblance to the black monolith in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. If the Getty produces a soundtrack of waltzes to accompany the display, the association will be complete and we will be whisked back to a time that dreamt vividly of a future that has yet to happen.

But there is a more prosaic point to the show than to promote temporal dislocation. The display of"Gray Column" is presented by the Getty's conservation institute and the work will be surrounded by exhibits that narrate the story of its making and maintenance. Valentine's achievement was as much an act of technical bravura as imagination. The 3500lb sculpture, 12 feet high and 8 feet wide, is made entirely out of a single pour of polyester resin, using a new technique devised by the artist and a local manufacturing firm.

The result is a smooth, highly polished work that tapers at the top to become translucent, a hypnotic visual effect. In common with other artists of the time working on the west coast, Valentine was fascinated by the finish that was being achieved in the aerospace and car industries. Even surfboards - what could be more Californian? - attracted artists for the sheen of their surface as much as for their symbolic power, speeding metaphors for the free-flowing lifestyle of LA beach culture.

"Gray Column" is part of Pacific Standard Time, a series of exhibitions opening next month on the birth of the LA art scene. Valentine in many ways was a typical player on the scene: innovative, unafraid of pushing boundaries, exalting in scientific advances of the time..."

- from "A perfect realization" by Peter Aspden published in the Arts section of the Financial Times September 4th 2011.
bottom photo 'Gray Column"
top photo 'Diamond Column"
both polyester resin sculptures by De Wain Valentine

Friday, November 11, 2011


Burch with his 11' plus asym.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Ekstrom at the Mingei

Double Door 1968 & Two-Part Chair 1970 as seen at the opening of San Diego's Craft Revolution at the Mingei Museum in Balboa Park last night...