Art Brewer SVA Show

Photographer/Artist Art Brewer is someone I’ve written about before, and someone I will surely write about again. I’m a big fan of cool people. I’m a big fan of good photography, and I’m a big fan of photographers who have poured their lives into creating an archive on one particular topic or subject. Art is all the above. Recently, I was able to stop by Art’s studio to check out a few of the images he is printing for a MASSIVE show at the School of Visual Arts in New York. This show will highlight over 150 individual pieces from Art’s collection on the history of modern surfing.

At 43 I finally feel like I found a subject I can work on the rest of my life. Starting now I’m way behind the game. Art has been covering modern surfing for over thirty-years and his archive is one of the greatest ever compiled. Years ago, when I worked for Kodak in Southern California, I realized there was an opportunity for me, and for the company, in working with the global collection of surfing photographers. Problem was I didn’t know a single surfing photographer. So, being a good corporate detective, I called around. “Talk to Art Brewer,” was the response I heard over and over again. Not only was Art open and receptive to learning what Kodak had to offer he also became my link to the entire surfing photography world.

What I love about Art’s archive is the range of work. Browsing the work you see every format imaginable from 35mm to 6×6, 6×7, 6×9, 4×5, point and shoot as well as an odd assortment of other formats and techniques. When you walk into Art’s studio you find yourself frozen and wanting to simply stand and look. Big prints and artwork adorn the walls, an incredible range of oil, ink and emulsion. And every time I go there is something new to feast my eyes upon.

And as you can see by the above images, Art is also a bookmaker. And like all things Brewer, Art publishes a range of books. From his Masters of Surf Photography monograph to his two-volume Blurb masterpiece on Bunker Spreckels you never know what he is going to come up with next. And if that’s not enough…he teaches as well, which you can see in the film below. I was going to write that Art is a great person for young photographers to study, but I’m going to amend that. Art is a good person for any photographer to study. There are certain people who are creatively restless. They are creative searchers, people who run the river of life and can’t wait to see what lives beyond the next bend. Art is one of those people.

5 responses to “Art Brewer SVA Show”

  1. David Myers says:

    I went to high school with Art. He had already started his archive then. And, even then, he was a great guy.

    • Smogranch says:

      Hey David,

      High school with Art? I thought the ocean was the school? Must have been those pesky state requirements. I also really like his collection of prints, art, etc.

  2. LionelB says:

    Sitting on land like astronomers with their £5000 lenses they will wait a thousand years and still never solve the depth of field problem, never record real movement. In the surf you can see that they come alive, are connected. The moral is that you have to get wet. You have to eyeball your subject.

    • Smogranch says:


      Unless like me you would drown in those waves. However, I agree that the peeps who enter the water on days like these, a step up from the 600mm crowd on the beach. I’ve seen great images made both ways, but the water shots have a closeness that can’t be denied.

    • LionelB says:

      I would drown too but you can’t drown in a metaphor. Well maybe.

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