Art Center Staff interviewed curator Phil Roberts to get his take on the upcoming exhibition, Surfing the Pacific Rim. Let’s see what he has to say!
1) How long have you been working with the HB Art Center, and how has your experience been working in this gallery space?
For me it goes back to 2014 with my first guest curatorial job in the Art and Soul of Surfing exhibition. Since then I’ve contributed to 5 other exhibitions including this one. For me it’s been a great experience learning the business side of building and hosting museum quality exhibitions. Working with HBAC Director Kate Hoffman just giving me carte-blanche in my ideas for shows has been a treat and a confidence booster. And I’m grateful to have the platform to contribute to my art community as a whole in creating good shows to feature some of HB’s most talented artists of all mediums.
2) Is there anything you find particularly inspiring about the surfing culture here in Huntington Beach?
Well what can you say? HB is one of the historical locations for the birth and evolution of surfing for the West Coast of the United States. So many of surfing’s legendary board builders, innovators, designers and professional athletes all live here. This area of So Cal is the hotbed of creative talent that sets the style bar in creating the image, lifestyle and surfing economy for the rest of the world. The amount of talent in these neighborhoods is off the charts. It’s only natural to showcase the rich resource we have here in HB.
3) What was your inspiration for creating this upcoming show, Surfing the Pacific Rim?
To give a space for established artists and new talent discoveries to showcase what they’ve been working on during these unique times of isolation and seclusion. Artists never stop creating, and it’ll be great to see how they creatively made use of the last year in a positive way.
4) What were you looking for in the artwork when curating items for this show?
New talent, new voices, artists that we haven’t seen before that bring a refreshing spin on ocean art. Surfing had a blockbuster of a year during the pandemic when everyone decided they finally were going to learn to surf and headed for the beaches. Surfing has influenced and infiltrated itself into so many other genres of art that normally haven’t dabbled in it before. I’ve got artist friends that have got the bug and are now obsessed with surfing. So it’s great to see new eyes and ideas from fresh perspectives.
5) How do you know your co-curator and how has it been collaborating with him on this exhibition?
Rick and I go all the way back to 1982 when we discovered each other’s work at the Florida Surf Expo and in the surf magazines, and the competition was born. We’ve been “Frenemies” ever since. "Keep your artist friends close, keep your artist enemies closer!” hahaha. Rick has been a constant source of inspiration in my life for always striving to push the levels of quality and skill out of our talents in a very fun rivalry that has resulted in a great many accomplishments from both of us. I can’t imagine where my Surf Art career would be if I didn’t have Rick annoying me with his talent. I think Rick and I are on the same page of “Sharing the Wealth” in having this exhibition and to give other artists the same opportunities we get.
6) What motivated you to become an artist in the first place?
I was born this way. I don’t think there was any other life path for me, really. It was kind of obvious from a really young age, and the Universe guided me by putting all the right people in my path to assist in everything I was supposed to do. It’s been an amazing journey filled with the most wonderful talented friends.
7) What media do you use in your own artwork, and which is your favorite medium to work with?
I’m a renaissance artist with multiple disciplines and skills. I use whatever medium I feel is right for the art project. My favorite lately is oil painting, but I’m still doing bronze sculpture work.
8) Are there any specific places along the Pacific Rim that have inspired your own artwork the most?
The California coastline and the Polynesian chain of islands from Hawaii to Tahiti and beyond. Love Australia as well.
You’re invited to the exhibition opening on July 17th, 6:30- 9:00pm.
Come meet Phil and his co-curator Rick Rietveld in person!
Email Phil Roberts and check out his art on Instagram:
Shop Phil Roberts Art on Etsy: www.etsy.com/shop/beachesandcoconut
guest author LOREN BLACKWOOD
The POWER OF MENDING
Orsola de Castro encourages us to love our clothes. With resolve, she proclaims, “You will mend them, not throw them,” says the co-founder of Fashion Revolution, a non-profit supporting industry reform. Her latest book, Loved Clothes Last, proposes revolution by re-wearing and repairing clothes. The author reminds us that “nothing is created, nor destroyed, everything is transformed.” This simple act can help deal with overconsumption, fashion waste, and ultimately, reducing greenhouse gases produced from fashion production.
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation reported over 73% of the 53 million tons of textiles produced globally every year are discarded. One way to reduce a Carbon Footprint is through repair. By keeping clothes in use by mending and not disposing of them, we can sidestep the carbon compounds emitted from new apparel production or a landfill. Many brands offer in-house repair for those who do not have time or a desire to sew or mend. In a mission to keep things in use a little longer, some companies take their repair stations on the road.
Since 2017, Patagonia’s Worn Wear Program repairs and recycles clothing through the website or directly from their traveling repair truck. Recently, in 2020, their “Tour-de-Tear” roving seamsters made stops throughout Europe and the US. These to-go tailors spread goodwill and repair, all free of charge. Alternatively, online customers traded functioning garments or gear for credit or shopped their catalog for Trade-In or Recrafted clothes, made from other clothes.
BORO AND SASHIKO
Boro refers to the art of visible mending with scrap fabric, demonstrating the concept of “Wabi-Sabi,” or appreciating an object’s impermanence and imperfection. This art of Japanese textile repair, developed hundreds of years ago by working-class people, was born from a desire to extend the usefulness of fabric through patchwork and stitching.
The small and even stitching used for a Boro piece is called Sashiko. Imperfections are intentionally left frayed to add to the aesthetic. This folk art, developed during the 17th century Edo period, extended the use of textiles made from cotton, linen, or hemp fabrics harvested, spun, and dyed by hand. The embroidery-like stitches add texture and strength while embellishing everyday items.
The Japanese value, “Mottainai,” translates to, waste nothing by seeing the value in everything. The act of Sashiko requires being in the moment, as a long sharp threaded needle passes through layers of fabric, leaving a trail of tiny even stitches. This restoration method offers a connection with our belongings and an opportunity to rethink our relationship to what makes clothing meaningful. Understanding this relationship puts us in the driver's seat.
A FASHION BOOM, MUSHROOMS
Stella McCartney commits to innovation and decreasing the company’s Carbon Footprint by teasing a new sustainable non-leather textile. The first luxury fashion brand not to utilize animal hides, feathers, or fur, worked with Bolt Threads to produce Mylo, a vegan leather. This plant-based fabric does not utilize petroleum or harmful chemicals for production, found in leather or pleather manufacturing processes. McCartney has used Bolt Threads’ trademarked Mylo fabric for two garments, black bustier top and utilitarian trousers.
By the end of this year, the French fashion house, Hermès, plans to release a prototype mushroomed bag developed by MycoWorks. Pierre-Alexis Dumas, artistic director of Hermès, a company whose reputation stands on making products from the finest materials, recalls his grandfather telling him, “Luxury is that which you can repair.”
Donating clothes forestalls an early “End of Life,” the term used in the apparel industry designating the end of clothing’s useful lifespan. Orsola de Castro reminds us that “nothing is created, nor destroyed, everything is transformed.” Before disposing of, consider the secondhand market. We can revolutionize how and what we consume by donating, selling, or recycling obsolete clothing. The top resale clothing sites, Poshmark, Depop, thredUP, and The RealReal, saw record growth over the last year. In March, thredUP, described as the most trusted online marketplace for used clothing, went Public entering Nasdaq 30% above the IPO price. As we consider how to enjoy fashion trends more responsibly, choosing used instead of new is one of the easiest ways to participate.
“The revolution will put you in the driver’s seat.”
Gill Scott - Heron
Loren Blackwood studies Fashion Design at Orange Coast College. She earned her Bachelor's Degree in Art History from the University of California at Irvine. She interns at the Huntington Beach Art Center.
IMPROVING ENVIRONMENTAL AND SOCIAL IMPACTS OF THE APPAREL INDUSTRY
Social, environmental, and economic issues increasingly challenge the $1.5 trillion apparel and footwear industry. As we navigate last years’ unexplored waters of industry disruption, a balance of pragmatic and innovative developments within the business of fashion persists. The industry, over two centuries old, turned on its head, refocuses the linear model of the take-make-waste model to a circular means of production.
Appointed by the United Nations, the Brundtland Commission, defined sustainable development as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising future generations' ability to meet their own needs,” becomes profoundly relevant today.
John Elkington’s interpretation of this perspective is often referred to as the triple bottom line (TBL or 3BL) or the 3P’s, where economic profit is considered equivalent to environmental and social impact. A systematic change delivered through collaboration with the Fashion Industry may be a key to progress.
Financial performance goals such as sales growth and shareholder value have historically been the primary focus of retailers. The 3P’s integrates environmental and social initiatives with profit and sales growth goals. Astute retailers and customers see these initiates as complementary rather than competing goals.
The founders of Patagonia Company believe that no economic activity is yet sustainable and define their mission as responsible. Responsible initiatives address increasing employee living wages, providing safe working conditions, along with environmental stewardship. Included in these initiatives are considerations for local communities and society at large to reflect a broadening definition of a responsible business.
DO LESS HARM
Twenty-five years ago, Patagonia initiated a green corporate governance trend by donating 1% of sales to environmental causes. The outdoor clothing company’s vision to “produce no unnecessary environmental harm and have a positive impact on the stakeholders; people and communities associated with its activities” consistently funneled its eco-sense and anti-corporate ethos into a successful clothing business.
In a call to action, Patagonia and Walmart formed the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, SAC, and the Higg Index, an industry-wide self-assessment tool. The apparel manufacturing giants shaped an unlikely collaboration responding to environmental and social concerns. In a joint effort, they invited other brands, retailers, and manufacturers across the globe, along with NGOs, the Environmental Protection Agency, and academic institutions.
The Higg Index, launched in 2012, measures environmental and social impacts across a product’s entire life cycle from raw materials to end-of-life disposal. As a powerful cooperative group, SAC can accelerate improvement through its open-source index to understand that reducing harm must be collective.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Business candor builds legitimacy and creates additional incentives for action and innovation. The shared growth of ethically produced and earth-safe style provides the footing for an upsurge in consumer markets.
These efforts sparked by social and environmental online publications (free) such as - “Who Made My Clothes" by Fashion Revolution, "Detox My Fashion" by Greenpeace, and "Make Fashion Circular" by Ellen MacArthur Foundation, called on influential brands to redesign fashion’s future. “Who made my clothes?” Fashion Revolution asks, consumers now want to know.
“Good On You” became a leading trusted source for sustainable fashion brand ratings. Their popular concept drove millions of consumers worldwide to consult with their free app as they shop for ethical and sustainable brands.
A CIRCULAR ADVANTAGE
As suppliers closed during the pandemic, enlightened manufacturers responded to textile demand by seeking materials on hand. Fashion designers already tuned into environmental responsibility, dipped into the vast archives of textiles called “Dead Stock,” from past seasons or existing clothes to create next season’s circular looks.
Circularity offers a competitive advantage through repair, refurbishment, or reuse of materials not quite ready for retirement. An overabundance of clothing and textiles, only worn a few times, too often meets an early grave in landfills and can take up to 200 years to decompose while emitting GHGS such as methane.
Nature does not create waste for itself; every output becomes nourishment for the next. Our future's fate will not come automatically; judging from the trajectory, it has to be cultivated like a cherished garden, tended, not ignored. Now we can test our commitment to the environment and all living creatures in an opportunity to prove that circularity is not just academic.
The resale and second-hand market continue to grow as consumers reevaluate their relationship with their clothes. The pandemic led to a surge of DIY tutorials educating consumers on sewing, upcycling and repairing goods to increase longevity. Initiatives such as Levi’s Buy-Back scheme, Gucci's partnership with The RealReal, Eileen Fisher’s RENEW, and Madewell's take-back programs encourage consumer participation in circular commerce.
Rethinking some of the most basic principles on which we do business takes a hard look at what we produce and consume. The complexity of human behavior and the fundamental nature of fashion inadvertently overlooks the ethics and environmental consequences of what we buy. Reconfiguring how we function within nature’s limits begins by addressing consumption and excess. No circular economy or fashion brand initiative can unhinge our connection to over consumption patterns and subsequent waste without our participation.
Innovation and creativity to make the fashion industry evolve to our environments inherent needs involve significant technical and commercial challenges. Shifting to such a model to satisfy today's requirements without undermining tomorrow's viability will bring greater accountability as we reconsider priorities.
Loren Blackwood is a guest writer at Huntington Beach Art Center. She is the photographer and illustrator of the images in this blog. She is studying Fashion Design at Orange Coast College and interning at HBAC.
“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”