Hailing from two iconic epicenters of surf culture and industry — Jim and Cooper in Orange County, Mark in the North Shore of Oahu, the artists curate the detritus and missing relics of watermen to create beauty in the lost and discarded. From weathered fiberglass boat pieces to nautical ropes, reef-crusted surfboard fins to fishing weights. What most would disregard as trash or debris, the artists convey textured story through context and repetition in their works. Primitive, recycled masterpieces that were first claimed by the ocean, are then offered back by the tides with a patina only years of salt water could produce.
Jim Olarte, a Laguna Beach native, has spent decades beach combing, collecting and curating his unique finds. His large scale, architectural rope macramé work is truly unparalleled and otherworldly. Inspired by the works of Alexander Calder, Jim has also created a series of mobiles made of fiberglass boat pieces for the exhibit. His apprentice turned studio partner, Cooper Root has helped to expand and evolve their body of work, adding his own keen eye and fresh perspective.
A fellow aquatic treasure hunter, Mark Cunningham is a living legend from Hawaii. An infamous North Shore lifeguard and professional body surfer, Mark scours the reefs and caves under the famed Pipeline wave and other surfing sights around Oahu in the off season to scavenge objects claimed by the sea. Mark’s “studio partner;” the white, crusty, coralline reef algae Porolithon, takes over debris like surf fins, wax combs, dive masks, et cetera. Then Mark mounts them on beachwood as readymade displays, grouped by object type or color to communicate a witty undercurrent.