Surfers and the art of the wave
With all the excitement about what’s new and what’s next at the Orange County Great Park, it’s easy to overlook some old favorites. The chickens at the Farm + Food Lab are as intriguing to kids as ever, and in spring the gardens and planters seem especially fresh and full of life. We love this hidden gem and hope it has a place as the park grows. The carousel and the kids’ rock playground are part of the weekend for many local families, while the big orange balloon has evolved into something of an icon, albeit a symbol of an earlier error at the park. Did we say error? We meant era, honestly.
For those who have been paying attention, it’s probably obvious that one of our favorite spaces at the former MCAS El Toro is the Great Park Art Gallery. Its well-curated shows offer an aesthetic respite from whatever else we’re doing the day we visit. The current show “Surfing with Tom Carey” is one of the gallery’s most accessible shows, even if it’s not as thought provoking as this past year’s exhibits curated by Kevin Staniec, such as “Balance,” “Rhythm” or “Smile: Expressions of Orange County.”
Surfing has always been about soul. If the apparel and accessories industries that marketed the surf lifestyle forgot about that for a while, most surfers did not. And that passionate connection of athletes to the ocean is on display in the exhibition of work by renowned photographer Tom Carey.
The photographs are stunningly crafted and captured images of surfers on waves around the world. Several of the images are huge, covering almost from polished concrete floor to open industrial ceiling in the clean, well-lit gallery. The large images reflect in the shiny floor of the gallery, adding to the appeal.
Portraits of surfers line another wall, some posed and many others candid and impromptu. These shots catching the personalities of the athletes, and revealing a bit of what it must be like to travel the world as a competitive or magazine model surfer.
Other parts of the gallery include a look at Carey’s innovative experiments in advanced flash techniques, while another wall includes the 18 magazine covers from a variety of surfing magazines featuring Carey’s photos over the past 15 years. For a surf photographer, scoring a magazine cover is one of the pinnacles of the profession.
The exhibit also features a surf film called “Psychic Migrations” on a constant loop. The Volcom film directed by Ryan Thomas was part of last year’s Newport Beach Film Festival. It’s described on the gallery wall as weaving “the physical expression of riding a rousing score of waves with a cerebral odyssey through the scapes and textures traveled to find them.” We can’t say how accurate that description is (or exactly what it means). We were more attracted to the art on the walls, so will leave the film for another day.