The Great Highway Original Idioms Window Gallery

Original Idioms

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The Great Highway Gallery is excited to present Original Idioms – curated by Matt Wessen of the LA County Historical Society. Matt was recently profiled in Surfer’s Journal. The group exhibition will feature, installation, paintings, photography and ephemera from pioneers of surf and skate art culture.

Skip Engblom

Ned Evans

Anthony Friedkin

Mörizen “Mofo” Föche

Dan Freeman

Jim Ganzer

Ivan Hosoi

Steve Olson

C. R. Stecyk III

Curators Statement

“Original Idioms” an observation and celebration of art in the four following mediums: surf, skate, street, and beach. The fourth comprehensive survey from the LA County Historical Society.

A diverse body of artworks created in over five decades and characterized by experimentation. To be able to achieve the show’s curator Matt Wessen created a filter: the importance of years of effort spent by each artist in a particular medium, photographs, sculptures, paintings, mixed media, three dimensional objects, and installations.

“Original Idioms” features a collection of rare items that 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 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.  “Original Idioms” is more of a documentarian mindset than a formal approach.

The show features a repertoire of practices and a collective artistic style of LA living legends and practitioners 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.

“Original Idioms” offers a look into the history of LA 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.

The LA County Historical Society was founded by Skip Engblom, Anna Wessen, Matt Wessen.

Back Story

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 competitively and how to surf. This was the moment surfing came to America. This was the moment surfing came to Los Angeles.

Curator Links



Reception February 29th from 6pm to 9pm 
El Tonayense Taco Truck 6:30-8:30

Join us for the opening reception and meet curator Matt Wessen.

Exhibition February 29th – March 29th

Pete's Cafe The Great Highway

Pete’s Cafe SFAI in the 90’s

January 10th – February 16th

Reception Saturday,  January 11 6-10pm

The Great Highway Gallery is excited to present Pete’s Cafe – SFAI in the 90s. The group exhibition will being featuring works by the invited artists who attended or worked at the San Francisco Art Institute in the 90s. Patricia Kavanaugh will be recreating the Pete’s Timeline that she and Tanesha Jemison displayed on the back wall of the cafe in 1997. Andytown Coffee Roastery and Seven Stills & Hard Frescoes Tap Room that are on either side of the gallery will be participating and creating Pete’s Cafe experiences inside their establishments.

Pete’s Cafe

In the 90s I worked as the night manager at Pete’s Cafe situated on the roof of the San Francisco Art Institute on Chestnut Street. I met Pete working at Hayes Street Grill. He asked if I would work the night manager shift for him. I thought it would be fun and it had benefits. Pete created an environment that encouraged an appreciation of cooking, jazz, biting humor and all out human study. The staff beyond Pete, myself and another day manager (Ted Szczepanski) was the students. I have greatly enjoyed watching these students who worked in the cafe and others that attended SFAI during the 90’s go on to do such great things. The exhibition gives attention not only to the space Pete created but to the community that it helped foster.

Dave Arnn

Daric Cheshire

Colin Chillag

Wren Coe

Diana Coopersmith

Adrienne Eberhardt

Connie Goldman

Jeremy Harper

Gerald Hawk

Cliff Hengst

Scott Hewicker

Johanna Jackson

Xylor Jane

Patricia Kavanaugh

Yasmin Lambie-Simpson

Mario Lemos

Ted Lincoln

Lydia Linker


Jennifer Locke

Sally Lundburg

Mads Lynnerup

Spencer Mack

J Matt

Alicia McCarthy

Barry McGee

Palmerin Merges

Karla Milosevich

Ruby Neri

Eamon Ore-Giron

Maurizzio Hector Pineda

Will Rogan

Cynthia Rojas

Rocio Santillana

Christian Spruell

Steven Starfas

Keith Tallett

Rafael Vieira

Benji Whalen

Mark Wilson


The Great Highway is a fine art gallery and working studio featuring contemporary works in all mediums. The gallery has a deep appreciation for images and ideas that explore where lands meet water.

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Location and Hours

The Great Highway
3649 Lawton St.
San Francisco, CA 94122

phone: (415) 680-3891

By appointment 7 days a week

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