Kelly Slater’s “Apolitical Process” Brought About An Odd Nostalgia
Ever seen Disney’s Toy Story?
Around 7:30 pm, Thursday, in Venice Beach I wandered the three short blocks from our office space to Kelly Slater’s “Apolitical Process.” It was said to be an artistic journey through the chaos of the 2016 election. Which, you could say it was. It was, umm, one-third political, fit with anti-Trump sculptures by Bruce Reynolds; metallic shots of Kelly courtesy of Todd Glaser; and Kevin Ancell’s Blackfish-inspired surfboards occupying the wall between (which are lovely). The direction was a bit confused, but there were complimentary cocktails. And, it must be glorious to have a name like Kelly Slater. My goodness! Throw those 11 letters on anything and it’ll create the allure of a neon carnival; people will congregate with their mouths open, buzzing and hoping to shake the hand, rub the scalp or better yet snap an iPhone selfie and channel the champ.
Last night was the official opening, but on Wednesday there was a preview for potential buyers, lookers and anyone who happened to walk by. Which I did not attend, but from what I heard and the photos I’ve seen, it was a shoulder to shoulder mishmash of the kind, occasionally try-hard Venice folk. The booze flew out of the lovely bartender’s grasp, and people laughed, joked and were jolly. Last night, was a similar affair.
As RVCA’s founder Pat Tenore (the show’s curator) knows, the secret to a good art showing is complimentary food and drink. Vodka and tequila were served with juice, soda water and Purps (of course) and there was also a cheese platter. It was a classy event. And, Kelly, for fear of being pummeled by unruly fans spent most of his night in the back. He did come out at some point and was subsequently pummeled by unruly fans, and enough cell phones to cause a brain tumour.
Remember Sid? The M-80 wielding, black and white skull t-shirt wearing troubled child from Disney’s Toy Story? Well, Bruce Reynolds’ sculptures had the essence of being manufactured in Sid’s backyard. Miscellaneous items thrown together with a loose or visible political influence. My personal favourite which I couldn’t help but think, Who the fuck would put this in their home? Featured Donnie T, next to Adolf Hitler and Kim Jong-un, a statement against tyrannical rulers. It was also fit with a Batman figurine which I don’t particularly understand. Trump has an uncanny ability to raise blood temperature. But, the sculptures were the stuff of nightmare, which, in a sense, does exemplify the state of the 2016 election.
Kevin Ancell’s Blackfish surfboard installation was the hit of the event. Each board has a certain morbid significance – a tribute to Mr Slater’s dead friends. They sat against the wall, some ridden and broken by Kelly. The names are scrawled and repeated up the boards, mimicking the pattern of an Orca. They’re all beautiful, meaningful and provocative.
Kelly’s an artist in his realm, and what he’s done to the world of surfing is sheer artistry. He didn’t produce any of the installations; they were his vision, his collaboration, and that sparkly name. His contribution to the sculptures weren’t noted (maybe it’s the way he uses social media to affect sustainable change. One thing’s for certain, the King of being a public figure with a public voice). As for Todd and Kevin’s contributions, Kelly had a direct correlation; he is the centrepiece.
It was a fine night, filled with beautiful people, hip attire, drinks, cheese and Kelly Slater.
When it comes down to it, it was art, and nobody wins at art.
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