By Ashley Henderson
Sometimes it is hard to pin down surf culture. What started as a simple recreational sport has evolved into a mass industry, but beneath the surface there is still a thriving community of creativity and individualism.
The SURfiNDian sits at 4658 Mission Boulevard, Pacific Beach. A bit of a renegade to the surf industry, this art gallery and surf shop prides itself on its ability to demonstrate surfing as an art form.
“Surfing can be more than just a sport, there is an artistic side of surfing and people should explore it,” said owner and self proclaimed artist, and surfer Chris Rule.
The shop opened July 28, 2008 and is a fairly new addition to mission beach but is making an impact through its unique ability to carry non traditional forms of art. The shop features various types of apparel from Skip Frye T-shirts to more popular brands like Ando and Friends.
Many times these artists will collaborate their art and do gallery shows together . One of the first shows featured in Rule’s gallery was a compilation of art from surfboard shaper Skip Frye and Visual artist Andy Davis.
Rule said that his vision of combining art and surfing has been a desire of his for quite some time and was prompted to open the gallery after receiving some positive feedback from his magic 8 ball.
“I wanted to fill a void; there is all this great surf art that so many artists are producing and a lot of it is nontraditional. There is clothing and films being made that don’t necessarily fit the traditional surf shop model.”
Much of the art featured in the gallery includes surf films by artists and surfers such as: “The Present” by Thomas Campbell, “Seaworthy” and “Lines from a Poem…” by Nathan Oldfield, and a unique film called “The Tyler Warren Experiments” by Tyler Warren and John Smart which has yet to be released and features extended footage of Warren testing the new Mandala Quad board.
Mandala surfboards shaped by Manny Caro, are only a few of the unique boards found in Rule’s gallery quiver. Boards by shapers Josh Hall, and Steve Mast are also displayed here and could be found at the Mattson Family Benefit which took place Friday, June 26th and featured musical artists Mattson2.
The Gallery hosted “around 600 people and had 50 contributing artists with over 75 pieces sold to benefit the family,” Rule said.
Every two months Chris features a new artist and has an opportunity to present as “more than just a sport, there is an artistic side of surfing and people should explore it” He holds strong to these ideals, “This place is my art, I do the pallet lay outs” he said.
The SURfiNDian was created so that people could better understand that “at some level surfing becomes an art form and is different for every person, it is a special way to interact with nature all over the world,” Rule said.
The Gallery owner had some closing advice for surfers of all levels. He said, “don’t let someone else tell you what you can and cannot ride or how you should be surfing, be open minded about all the different experiences you can have through surfing” because what separates surfing from so many sports today is its ability to be translated into art.