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.
Mörizen “Mofo” Föche
C. R. Stecyk III
“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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Maurizzio Hector Pineda
October 11th – November 17th 2019
Reception Saturday, October 12th 3-9pm
The Great Highway Gallery is stoked to present “Out of Mind”. Installation and ropework art made from crab and lobster pot rope by Ethan Estess. During the reception “Fore the Waves” will be parked in front of the gallery. An interactive sculpture made from twenty thousand golf balls that Alex Weber started removing from the waters off Pebble Beach when she was 16.
I’m interested in the blind spots we can have with respect to ocean health, and I see art as a powerful conversation starter that can help us open our eyes and connect to complex challenges. For example, people tend to talk about sustainable seafood solely in terms of fish population levels, but rarely do we consider how certain fisheries contribute massively to the issue of marine plastic pollution. More dangerous and abundant (by weight) than single-use straws and plastic bottles, derelict fishing gear can entangle and kill a wide range of marine species. For these reasons I have been working to reclaim old fishing rope directly from fishermen and picking it up off beaches to highlight this challenge through my artwork. My hope is that increased consumer awareness on this issue will encourage fisheries to adopt better materials and practices to reduce their plastic pollution footprint.
As another example, I recently found myself in the dark in regards to an environmental issue in my own backyard. It had never occurred to me that golf balls could cause harm to the marine environment, that is until I received an email from a teenager who had spent three years picking 50,000 of them up off the seafloor near Pebble Beach. She had published a research paper documenting how 2-5 million balls remained buried in the sediment off the Carmel coast, seasonally getting ripped up by winter swells to tumble along the sandy bottom and erode into potentially toxic microplastic particles. Golf balls are just one of the many forms of plastic that sink in seawater, so I took the artistic opportunity to envision what the shore break at Carmel would look like if they happened to float. Fore the Waves is made from over 20,000 of these golf balls and is intended to inspire individual action and corporate responsibility to solve the broader plastic pollution crisis.
About the Artist
Ethan Estess (b. 1989) is an artist and marine scientist from Santa Cruz, California who communicates about the challenges facing the ocean through sculpture and printmaking. He travels extensively for his work as a marine biologist and draws on these experiences to inspire his creative works. He holds B.S and M.S. degrees in environmental science from Stanford University where he studied oceanography, mechanical engineering, and studio art.
Estess has participated in several art residencies, including the Recology program at the San Francisco landfill where he constructed a life-size whale tail sculpture from reclaimed rope that was later displayed for millions of viewers at the San Francisco international airport. His artworks are currently exhibited in public and private collections in the United States, Europe, and Japan, and he recently installed a temporary sculpture at the J. Paul Getty Museum.
Estess operates a studio and gallery while continuing to work with the Monterey Bay Aquarium studying bluefin tuna ecology and conservation. In 2016 Estess founded Countercurrent, a non-profit that engages communities in issues of ocean sustainability through science-based public art installations.