Colors streak the boards. Designs show intricate patterns and descriptive landscapes. The Morro Bay Surfboard Art Festival exhibits the exquisite craft and skill of local artists in Morro Bay. Though surfboard art isn’t classified as “fine art,” a charitable organization looks to give back to the community and local artists through the recognition of surfboard painting.
“Our basic mission has stayed the same: helping artists find a new format, discovering new artists and elevating awareness of surfboard art as a legitimate format for art,” said Walter Heath, creator of the Morro Bay Surfboard Art Festival and president of Morro Bay in Bloom.
The Morro Bay Surfboard Art Festival was started three years ago by Morro Bay in Bloom, a volunteer organization with a goal to beautify Morro Bay. The festival features surfboard art in local retail establishments, aiming to give stores more foot traffic.
“People love it. It’s fun watching people take mini vacations as they watch the art in restaurants or in the retail stores,” Heath said. “You know, people will just stop and pause and you can tell that they are transported to a different place while they are viewing the art.”
Two local artists featured in the festival are Chris Pedersen and Charlie Clingman, the owners of local surf art gallery Forever Stoked. The pair have participated in the festival since its inception.
Pedersen’s board features a psychedelic lime green woman with electric pink hair, lying on a mound of blue sand. It’s on display at Sunshine Health Foods in Morro Bay.
Pedersen and Clingman are avid surfers and paint their own boards. The festival provides a way for them to showcase their unseen work.
“We’ll paint the deck and if the board works good for us then we’ll spend weeks painting the bottom, like a full on painting that would be really valuable,” Clingman said. “So it’s actually fun for us to showcase these boards, because normally just our friends at the beach will see them or if we have art show.”
The Morro Bay Surfboard Art Festival is not held at a centralized location; the boards are spread out around Morro Bay in local businesses. With the festival spanning from October to December, this makes it easier to display the boards for a long period of time and helps bring business to local storeowners.
“It helps us as retailers because people walk around to see the different boards,” Shaun Farmer, owner of Farmer’s Kites, Surryes and More, said. “They may not buy anything, but just them coming in and seeing what I have for sale and seeing what I have around my store, it helps business.”
Some artists have built lasting relationships with the storeowners that house their surfboards.
Josh Talbott, a local artist and surfer, has had his artwork showcased at Joe’s Surfboard Shop this year and in 2014. Because of the art, Talbott and Joey Nichols, the shop’s owner, became close friends.
“Joe has been a really rad human being, really kind and generous,” Talbott said. “When they welcomed my board into their shop, it was really cool. It’s just an excuse to go down and see them. Really good folks.”
The Morro Bay Surfboard Art Festival launched on Oct. 1 and continues until the beginning of December. The festival ends with a sale of all the surfboards on Saturday, Dec. 3. The Surf Art sale will take place from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at The Inn at Morro Bay and is open to the public.
The money raised from these sales will then be divided among the beneficiaries of Morro Bay in Bloom, Project Surf Camp and local elementary and middle schools.
For more information, visit mbsurfboardartfest.com.