"Surf Art and Stoke at the Shore" Castles Made of Sand: A Trident Arts Surf Exhibit


When people think of surfing and surf art it’s not often that the Jersey shore comes up first. However, in recent years there has been a rise in local pro surfers, board shapers, and artists in the scene. At Trident Arts in Long Branch, the Castles Made of Sand art show proved that Jersey artists can be contenders to Californian or Hawaiian artists. The exhibit featured handmade surfboard bags by Davie Sincox, mixed-media art from Chris Blackwell and Scott Szegeski, woodworking art from Ben McBrien and Patrick Dean, paintings from Christopher Smith and Erik Schmidt, and a feature viewing of Through the Looking Glass, a pivotal east coast surf film, by local director and artist Robert Gilanyi as well as locally crafted and innovative surfboards from Johnny Borbone.

So why surf art? Owner and artist Patrick Dean shared his thoughts on this as he spoke of how this show would represent surfing and surf art better than the status quo. “I’m a surfer and also a tattoo artist and it has always been an inspiration. There are pieces [in the show] that are more cerebral and less hokey.” Looking around at the art displayed, it wasn’t hard to see what he was getting at. Each piece was different from the next one be it in medium or just overall content but all the work flowed together as a cohesive unit. There was one wall of art that featured handmade body surfing planes next to a painting of a fish outlined as a surfboard with charcoal drawings of waves in between.

Amidst all the art and boards was the movie Through the Looking Glass by Robert Gilanyi. Originally shot in 2004 along the east coast, the film differentiated itself from other surf movies by being shot in a more artistic and nontypical light. It is because of how he chose to shoot and edit the film that it continues to stand the test of time. Robert Gilanyi, a native of the Jersey shore, spoke about how “no one released east coast surf films at that time.” He also went on to say that when he shot the movie he shot his surfing buddies. These surfers included local pros Sam Hammer and Mike Gleason to name a few.  

I spoke to Jessica Desmond, a local fitness professional and paddle board instructor who was there admiring the art, about the show and she said, “It’s great to see local surfers, who are artists, do what they love and bring the surf culture to Long Branch...I’m proud of them and my town.”  The local support for the show was overwhelming as the crowd ranged from friends of the artists to local surfers to Long Branch mayor Adam Schneider.

One local surfer summed up the exhibit and movie best, “it’s impressive to see art this great.” Castles Made of Sand can be seen at Trident Arts: 220 Broadway, Long Branch NJ.

Coverage by Daniella Heminghaus

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