At the end of February, my life was running smoothly. As one of the owners of the Surfbeat Gallerie, I was closing the current show which had featured Jeff Divine, Shaun Stussy, Russell Crotty, and many other world-renowned artists. With the month ended and the recent group show coming off the wall, I felt a little twinge of fear thinking, “Wow. How is the Gallerie going to continue to hold to this level of quality.” My partner and co-owner Oliver Parker, was arranging the next show, and for the most part I was in the dark except that I knew his name was Ricky Brotini. And that he was from Italy.
After our first meal, I knew that my next month with “Team Italy” was going to be one to remember. Team Italy is a three-man team, but Ricky had yet to arrive so I met “Thing One” and “Thing Two”; David Pecchi and Alessandro Ponzanelli. Oliver had just taken them surfing and we met at our local watering hole “The Nugget.” While Alessandro is very quiet and reserved, David isn’t. For 20 minutes he had me keeled over laughing, telling us about how Bill Clinton was a hornball but if you compared him to the Italian President, he might as well be a virgin. Meanwhile in the booth next to us, four 80+ year-old women had no idea what to make of this loud animated character until he looked right at them and said “Sorry, I am from Italy.”
Three days later, I was glad when Ricky had finally arrived from Italy so we could start working on the show. When I asked him to show me what he brought, he unrolled four pieces painted on unstretched canvas. We had the whole Gallerie to fill and he had only four pieces! He told me not to worry and that he was going to do some “spirals” in the next few days and everything would work out. I had no idea what “spirals” were, but I went with it and put my trust in him.
30 hours away from the show and the Gallerie was still naked to the wind. I was stressing. “Hallo Seth. Dis is Ricky. Wud be possible for you to elp me get wat I need or da show.” I replied “Sure Ricky, no problem. I’ll there in ten minutes.”
When I arrived to pick him up he asked me to come inside and watch a video of a previous show that he had done so I could see what his plan was. The video blew me away. In less then a second, I went from being freaked out about blank walls to being more excited for an art show then I have ever been. The following two hours were spent between the hardware store, the auto paint shop, the Gallerie, and my garage preparing canvas, hanging hooks, and preparing. We managed to get everything done with less than 30 minutes before the show opened and the guests arrived.
Ricky’s show was unique because he creates his pieces in front of a live audience. He creates his spirals by hanging a paint can from the ceiling and then using a self-designed quick release, he decides when to drop the paint and let nature and gravity take over. As the pieces are created it was amazing to see the crowd completely fixated on the flow and creation of the work. We had two master shapers in attendance; Brian Hilbers and Wayne Rich, and they were both so blown away with Ricky’s work that they made sure to add one of of Ricky’s pieces to their art collections. It was an art show I will never forget.
Ricky’s work will be hanging through the weekend of March 31, 2012. This Saturday writer/surfer Micheal Kew, featured in Surfer, The Surfer’s Journal, Slide, Deep, along with many other surf and non-surf publications, will be doing a reading from his new book “Crossings” with the “Spiral” paintings of Ricky Brotini. So come down and enjoy two different forms of art this Saturday March 31, at the Surfbeat Gallerie, located at 22 Anacapa #5 in Santa Barbara.