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In the Pipeline: Wyland takes on Surfboards on Parade

December 30, 2013|By Chris Epting
  • Wyland, in his studio, displaying the program for Surfboards on Parade.
Wyland, in his studio, displaying the program for Surfboards… (Chris Epting )

When the famed marine-life artist Wyland unveils a new piece near the pier on Jan.14, he will be just across from the Golden Bear, where he painted a mural more than 30 years ago — before he was known for his building-size whales.

Wyland will be kicking off what I think is one of the most exciting local programs in recent history. It's called Surfboards on Parade, and it's a celebration of 100 years of surfing in Huntington Beach.

Put on by the Rotary Club of Huntington Beach, Surfboards on Parade will feature the placement of dozens of specially crafted surfboards throughout the city in the coming months. In March, surfboards will be unveiled at the Waterfront Hilton, the Hyatt Regency and the Shorebreak.

In May, a reception will be held at the Huntington Beach Art Center, and exhibits and events will continue through September, culminating in the Night of One Million Waves Gala, art auction and award ceremony at the Waterfront Hilton.

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In addition to the Rotary Club of Huntington Beach, the event benefits the Hoag Family Cancer Institute, the Huntington Beach Art Center and the International Surfing Museum.

But back to Wyland, with whom I had the chance to speak last week. He is one of the artists chosen to create one of the special surfboards (the board Wyland painted was shaped by local legend Tim Stamps).

As I mentioned, back in the late '70s, Wyland pained a mural on the Golden Bear, the iconic nightclub that closed in 1986. So for him, this project really is like coming full circle.

"I was sitting in the Golden Bear one night watching B.B. King play," the artist told me. "And I was sitting there doing a sketch. The owner of the club, Rick Babiracki, came over and asked what I was doing. I told him that I was a muralist and I was sketching some of the artists that have played the club. He asked when I could start painting on the side of the building and I said, 'Tomorrow.'"

This was before Wyland became famous for painting what he calls The Whaling Walls.

Wyland told me that he used to love surfing here too.

"I would surf all the time in Huntington. I knew all the local guys that would go on to become really great surfers. That's why I'm so happy to be involved with Surfboards on Parade.

"I have roots in that community and it's a place were I always feel at home. Plus, it's an amazing cause, it benefits some great places, and so for me this is just something that I consider to be a no-brainer.

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