Whether it’s painting surfboards or making films about its culture, self-expression is key in keeping the sport and lifestyle vibrant
Surfing is many things to many people. It’s a sport. It’s a lifestyle. It’s an escape. And for some, it’s artistic inspiration.
Look no further than the upcoming Vissla Add Color Surfboard Art Contest and the new short film Waves Apart by Josh Greene. Celebrating completely different mediums and modes of expression, the intent is the same: make the world a better place.
As a board builder, collector, and someone who’s spent most of his life in and around the water, Vissla founder Paul Naude was looking for a way to bring the international surfboard-building community together and shine some much-deserved light on the various approaches, styles and techniques for painting boards.
Enter the first-ever Add Color Surfboard Contest.
The contest ran from July through December of 2022 and was open to anyone with an Instagram account. All artists had to do was post their entry online and use the hashtag #VisslaAddColor. When it was all said and done, there were nearly 2,000 posts made.
“The response to the first Vissla global surfboard art contest was overwhelming, both in terms of the huge numbers of entries and the incredible art that emerged,” Naude told Dana Point Times. “We couldn’t be more pleased about the creativity this event exposed in the cornerstone item of surf culture, the surfboard.”
The awards ceremony and party are coming to the Brophy Gallery in San Clemente this Friday, Jan. 27. With a prize purse of more than $8,500, it truly is an international affair.
Arriving from Australia, Portugal, France, New York, Spain, San Diego and Hawaii, the top 20 boards will be on display. The judging panel includes San Clemente’s own Drew Brophy, as well as filmmaker and multimedia artist Thomas Campbell, master laminator Alex Villalobos and New Zealand-based artist Jason Woodside.
The event will run from 6-9 p.m. with live music, drinks, and tacos.
In the theater department, Greene, a graduate of San Clemente High, just had his film Waves Apart nominated for the Student Academy Award and was accepted into the prestigious Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Greene directed the film as his documentary thesis at the USC Film School.
When Greene was 13 years old, his bar mitzvah was held at the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center. On display in the museum is an old, wooden Pacific System Homes board from the 1920s that features a small swastika on it.
Among the first mass-produced surfboards, they were created prior to World War II and the Nazis’ appropriation of the symbol. The board was removed from the room for the bar mitzvah out of respect, but the incident piqued his interest.
Years later, working with a dedicated crew of friends, including Aslan Dalgic, Ela Passarelli, Jack Lattin, Elizabeth Sadauska and Liam Mills, Greene finally turned his vision to reality and is telling a story he’s long wanted to share.
“During the filmmaking process, I met incredibly talented surfers who are Jewish, just like me,” Greene told DP Times. “Filming near San Clemente, I met Israel ‘Izzy’ Paskowitz, one of Dorian ‘Doc’ Paskowitz’s sons.”
Greene recalled a story that Izzy told him about his father encountering someone in the water who had a spray-painted swastika on their surfboard.
“Outraged by such bigotry, (Izzy’s) dad confronted the man and destroyed his surfboard,” Greene said.
Greene also spoke about meeting Shaun Tomson, the 1977 World Champion of surfing, who revolutionized tube-riding.
“Shaun had a bar mitzvah when he, too, was 13. His bar mitzvah present was a surfing trip to Hawaii,” Greene said. “In the film, Shaun speaks about how he required both surfing and his Jewish roots to overcome loss, and that in all our lives, we all possess the power to pursue light over darkness, a major theme in the film.”
Waves Apart is scheduled to have its global premiere at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. An Oscar-qualifying festival, the film will air on Feb. 16 and Feb. 18.