No matter how you frame it, light it, or polish it up, a turd is just a turd. That’s how I felt after leaving the AntiCanvas art show in Honolulu’s Chinatown.
AntiCanvas is an art show where works from 30 different artists are printed onto Hurley brand board shorts, put on display at a hip Honolulu venue and then silently auctioned off to raise money for Pow Wow Hawaii and the Japan Relief Fund.
Hurley and their media partner Contrast magazine did a sparkling job hyping the show and making everyone involved feel like they’re doing good work. When I arrived I was greeted with my first lei from Seth McKinney, Hurely’s stout and hardy general manager for the Pacific region (Hawaii, Guam, and Tahiti). Leilani Patacchia, who also works for Hurley, greeted me with a flood of aloha because she said “Hurley artists” never make it out to these things.
Apparently I’m considered a Hurley artist because I’ve done collaborative work with the creative team at the company’s Southern California headquarters. Since Hurley is owned by Nike, they’re able to bank roll some crazy fun projects. Like the time my friends and I were in an art show titled “Awesome” at their Hspace art gallery and we sent them a doodle outlining a 15-foot tall skate ramp volcano we wanted constructed in the center of the gallery space. Not only did they build it, but they installed a light and a smoke machine so it looks active.
I love my relationship with Hurley, but I have to say that at the AntiCanvas show they did a crappy job printing the art onto the shorts. I don’t know the whole process of how they made the shorts, but it looked as though they ironed a bunch of white shorts and then ran them through a printer.
The end result was the lowest quality reproduction of good art I’ve ever seen. Any place there might have been a crease in the fabric was left blank, resulting in a startling white lighting bolt that cut through the artwork. What’s more, the whole crotch was emblazoned with the same startling white, stretching from the ass neck to the g spot.
Certainly it’s a great honor to have your work featured on a pair of Hurley shorts. A lot of the artists in the show are working hard to support themselves and their families in Hawaii, even though most support for the arts goes to oil painters who sell flower portraits to tourists.
At one point during the show the master of ceremonies turned the music down to announce to the pro surfers in the room–people like Rob Machado, Aamion Goodwin and Koa Cazimero–that they should bid on the artwork-covered shorts. Of course, the guys were sponsored by Hurley, so they’re kind of being paid to be at the show and bid on the shorts. Anyway, the night went on–people raged, laughed, drank, bro-hugged, kissed in the dark and the auction winners went home carrying some very expensive board shorts.
For the rest of the weekend I hung out with family & friends, talked about art and surfed so much my ribs are still bruised and rubbed raw. After building sand castles and surfing at North Shore’s Chun’s Reef, we all packed into the tiny Beet Box Cafe for some vegetarian comfort food. While sitting next to the front counter and inhaling a falafel burger, I happened to notice a guy walk in wearing shorts from the show.
As he stood there, fishing for his wallet and showing me the bright white proof of the bad print job, my opinion suddenly changed. On Oahu’s North Shore, the surf capital of the world, those shorts–lightning bolt streaks and all–looked damn good. Somehow, the sloppy printing didn’t matter anymore. The art simply worked, and it was beautiful.
I realized that when measuring the success of the art auctioned off in the AntiCanvas show, that I needed to look at how well it performed in its natural environment, not under the microscope of high-prices, spot lights and white walls.