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