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Hamptons "Surf Craft" Exhibition Traces The Quest For The Ultimate Board

Nicholas Conzelman

Te original "Surf Craft" installation from the Mingei International Museum in San Diego. (Photo: www.facebook.com)

"Surf Craft - Design and the Culture of Board Riding," the much-anticipated exhibition highlighting the craft and history of surfboard design, will open on Friday, July 31st, at LongHouse Reserve in East Hampton. A 16-acre garden and museum, created in 1991 by textile designer Jack Lenor Larsen, LongHouse features an incredible array of outdoor sculpture and installation work by prominent modern and contemporary artists including Sol Lewitt, Alexander Calder, Kiki Smith, Yoko Ono, and Yue Minjun, to name but a few. "Surf Craft - Design and the Culture of Board Riding" will be on view in the Pavilion though Saturday, October 10th.

Organized by Richard Kenvin, this thematically fitting show for the East End will present 45 surfboards built from the late 1940s to the present day and will undoubtedly validate the art of surfboard design. Originally presented at the Mingei International Museum of San Diego, California, this unprecedented presentation of historical surfboards was made possible by the help of Southern California collectors and two institutions, the Surfing Heritage and Cultural Center in San Clemente and the California Surf Museum in Oceanside.

Kenvin, the curator behind the exhibition, grew up in Southern California in the 1960s and became a competitive surfer in his teens. A dedicated member of the surf community, Kenvin has been a surfer, board shaper, writer, historian and filmmaker. The show is based on Kenvin's book, "Surf Craft: Design and the Culture of Boarding Riding," which was recently published by Marquand Books and MIT Press. A piece of artwork itself, this hardcover book includes 150 historic and contemporary photographs.

Punctuated by wildly colorful boards with innovative forms and highly imaginative compositions, this collection traces the decades-old quest for the ultimate surfboard shape and design around the world. According to LongHouse, this exhibition will capture "the influences behind design in board riding, from the alaia boards of ancient Hawaii, to obscure surf bathing boards of England, Japan and Africa, to post-war hydrodynamic planning hulls from Southern California." Included amongst the boards are examples by famed shapers Bob Simmons, Carl Ekstrom, and Ryan Burch. While fully functional, these boards will stun viewers with their artful forms and playful palette and designs. The exhibition will evoke a certain nostalgia for the early days of surfing, and it is sure to please visitors of all ages.

An opening reception for "Surf Craft" will take place on Friday, July 31st from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Admission is $10, but complimentary for members. On Saturday, August 1st at 10 a.m., LongHouse will host a talk with Richard Kenvin. Tickets are $20, but complimentary for members.

LongHouse Reserve is located at 133 Hands Creek Road in East Hampton. For more information, call 631-604-5330 or visit www.longhouse.org.

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