Art Center Staff interviewed curator Rick Rietveld 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?
My first experience with the HB Art Center was an art exhibit that Kate and Phil Roberts had invited me to participate in. I had the honor of creating the marketing poster for it using my entry “Genesis 1”. I love the wide, open space and high ceilings. There is an easy flow through the exhibits along with the class rooms and media room.
2) Is there anything you find particularly inspiring about the surfing culture here in Huntington Beach?
For me, growing up in Southern California and surfing here since I was a young teen, I really wasn’t aware how blessed I was to be at the hub of surfing’s growth and expansion to the rest of the world. Many of the top board builders started here and the surf is mostly consistent throughout the year. I’ve been fortunate to experience the growth of the surf industry as an artist working for many of the surf brands. Huntington Beach is the first place all of my international friends and business clients want to visit and surf and check out all the surf shops.
3) What was your inspiration for creating this upcoming show, Surfing the Pacific Rim?
We wanted to give a platform to artists that wouldn’t ordinarily have the opportunity to show their work and to expand the scope of surf art from the USA out to the world. There is so much talent around the world that we miss out on. This exhibit hopefully inspires that spectrum.
4) What were you looking for in the artwork when curating items for this show?
I wanted to see new perspectives of the surf art we have grown accustomed to seeing in our surfing community. We all experience a similar feeling when we surf yet the translation from the actual physical action to the visual interpretation can be very different for the artist that is trying to put that feeling on canvas or any other medium available. I’m always inspired by other artists’ vision and expression of the surfing experience.
5) How do you know your co-curator and how has it been collaborating with him on this exhibition?
I first saw one of Phil’s illustrated ads for an East Coast surf company back in the early 80’s when we both were getting our art featured as ads in the surf magazines. I asked myself, “Who in the hell is this guy?” I was humbled at that moment and knew that we would be friends with a lot in common or crazy rivals. Over the years we have become both. We actually shared studio space for a while and that is a whole long, crazy story in itself! Phil has always been an inspiration and also, at the same time, a thorn in my side who brings out the artistic jealousy in me because of his incredible, multi-skilled talent. We are both very competitive and I think we challenge each other with each and every project we do and strive to win the art contest between us. As artists we need to keep growing and fine-tuning our skills and Phil has always inspired me to do that.
6) What motivated you to become an artist in the first place?
My mother is an incredible artist and at a very young age I watched her take a blank piece of paper and with a stick of charcoal draw these beautiful children in a matter of minutes. It was like magic for me! From that day on, I knew that all I wanted to do was to learn how to create visual magic. I’m still trying! She showed and sold her art at local street art fairs in L.A. when I was a kid and set up a card table for me so that I could draw for fun. When someone asked how much I would charge for the art I was working on I was hooked! Someone was actually willing to pay for something I had created? Not to say that was my only motivation but it certainly helped.
7) What media do you use in your own artwork, and which is your favorite medium to work with?
I use many mediums depending on the project or vision. I learned several at the Art Center College of Design and, at the time, pencil, pastel and pen and ink were my favorite. In the 80’s I was really into acrylic and airbrush and by the mid-80’s I was introduced to computer graphics for which I hesitated as I didn’t want my work to look like computer art. Quickly, though, I learned that there were many commercial advantages, including time saving processes and that the computer is just a tool like any other creative medium. I sometimes use it to scan a sketch and layout the composition and color palette which happens quickly on that platform in order to realize what my vision is. I don’t like wasting time re-painting something. Currently my favorites are acrylic and oil. I still use the airbrush for various segments of a painting.
8) Are there any specific places along the Pacific Rim that have inspired your own artwork the most?
Because I live here, California has been my main inspiration along with Hawaii as I have been there often.
You’re invited to the exhibition opening on July 17th, 6:30- 9:00pm.
Come meet Rick and his co-curator Phil Roberts in person!