Monday, November 26, 2007
Art Brewer - Master Of The Stoke
Capturing the surfing culture takes more than hanging out in the tube at Pipeline. Art Brewer's photography gets at the core of the lifestyle.
The span of time has done little to abate Brewer's deep affection for the image and the power it holds over the viewer. Recently returned from Indonesia, Brewer has a new project in the works, one to document the Aboriginal people on the island of Sumba. It's no surprise to hear that the island has a gnarly surf spot for Brewer, now the dean of surf photography, to explore.
“There's an amazing surf spot on the resort there,” laughs Brewer. “I guess it's in my blood, but I went there for the Sumba Foundation. It was created to improve the life of its indigenous people. The fragile culture and traditions of the people are slowly evaporating.”
To date, the foundation has provided humanitarian aid and malaria control and continues its effective presence on the island. Brewer plans a return trip next spring to put the finishing touches on the project.
“It's one of the last primitive spots in the world,” says Brewer. “We're so blind in the modern world. Everyone is walking around in blinders. I'm psyched to get back out there. It's time to document the people before they start wearing T-shirts and sneakers.”
Brewer and writer C.R. Stecyk also have a new book out from Taschen, Bunker Spreckels: Surfing's Divine Prince of Decadence. A famous teenage surfer and the stepson of Clark Gable, Bunker soon became a debaucherous playboy when his inheritance finally kicked in. The two were surfing buddies when Bunker chose Brewer as part of his entourage to document his life of surfing, guns, martial arts and women before he succumbed to a life of excess at the age of 27.
“Being around him was very dangerous and anything but normal,” says Brewer of his experiences. “It was near impossible to stay away from his wake of destruction. Plus, he had the money to buy his way out of trouble, even after trying to shoot me in South Africa with his 25-caliber Walther PPK the day after his 26th birthday for no apparent reason.”
Over his three-decade career, Brewer has crossed the globe countless times, chasing the surfers who chase the waves in the most inaccessible spots imaginable. Accepted by his peers as the world's premier surf photographer, Brewer's genius lies in his ability to capture the heart and soul of surfing. His timeless images succeed in conveying the elusive “stoke” of surfing lifestyle, for which the landlocked Great Unwet will thank him for generations to come.
To see more of Art Brewer's photography, visit www.artbrewer.com.
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