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Wyland delivers drama for a cause

Artist's strikingly painted board, kicking off Surfboards on Parade, features the gaping mouth of a shark, perhaps a not-so-subtle comment about skin cancer.

January 15, 2014|By Michael Miller
  • A surfboard by shaper Tim Stamps, second from right, and painter Wyland, who did not attend, is unveiled at Duke's to kick off the opening for Surfboards on Parade, a yearlong exhibit throughout Huntington Beach.
A surfboard by shaper Tim Stamps, second from right, and… (KEVIN CHANG, HB…)

It was a jarring note to begin a year of celebrating surfing — an image of a shark with its mouth wide open, looking set to devour a board like the one it was painted on.

But if it garnered attention for a cause, mission accomplished.

Tuesday morning at Duke's by the Huntington Beach Pier, the Rotary Club of Huntington Beach kicked off its Surfboards on Parade campaign with the first of 25 boards that will be displayed around town in the coming months to help fight skin cancer. Each board features the work of a different shaper and artist, and first up was a piece by Tim Stamps and the painter Wyland.

From the introductory comments by Daemon Clark, the director of Wyland Galleries, an onlooker could sense that the surfboard unveiled at Duke's would not be a generic tribute to surfing and the ocean.

"For this piece, he wanted to do something a little outside of the norm," Clark said before a group of Rotarians removed the black cloth from the board in the corner of the dining area. "He wanted to do something that commanded your attention, just like we need now attention for skin cancer victims."

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Then the cloth fell, and viewers found themselves staring into the gaping mouth of a great white instead of admiring a lush beach scene. The fish jutted vertically out of the water in front of a blood-red sky and sunset, its head reared back and yawning like Jaws after a meal.

Musician Junie Bomba accompanied the unveiling with a series of notes on a conch shell, and the audience, possibly perplexed, paused a few seconds before breaking into applause. As cameras clicked and media closed in, some in the crowd speculated that the shark's cavernous throat occupied the spot on the board where a surfer's foot might rest.

Stamps, who had sent the shaped board to Wyland without any idea what the painter might come up with, saw the finished work for the first time along with the other guests. So what did he think?

"It's really cool," the Long Beach resident said between posing for pictures in front of the board. "It's the first time I've seen it. I think it's his normal type of style, but it's cool — it's new, and it's a whole new event that's going on. When it came off, I was pretty stoked."

Surprised too?

"I'm always surprised when I see an artist's work. You never know. And it looks good. I think it matches everything. You can read a lot into a shark, you know. It's pretty awesome."

OK, then, one possible reading?

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