Alex Weinstein is a talented California-based surfer/artist. Shown internationally in galleries, his fine art paintings and sculptures combine a zen-like presence with the deep, dark mysterious sea, and easily go beyond the mere category of surf art. We spoke with Alex to learn more about him and his work.
What was your childhood like?
I grew up in Providence, Rhode Island riding skateboards.
When did you get your first surfboard?
1983. it was a 6’0” sunset shaped by ed wright with glassed on side fins and a box for the center fin. It was blue on the bottom and had a troppo-sunset airbrush fade on the top. It was like a flamingo-Corvette. Super slick and 70’s looking.
What was the feeling you had when you first stood on a surfboard?
Total, obliterating clarity. Just suffocating, blinding happiness. But I have to admit that it didn’t come at first. I was in love with surfing before that moment arrived and struggled to get to that place but when that particular moment manifested, and it really did – my life changed.
Who did you look up to and admire when you were a child?
Jason Crowley. He was a kind of savant/fuck up/rockstar/liar/genius/failure. As charismatic as anyone I have ever met; brilliant; energetic and tirelessly self-destructive. And he did in fact destroy himself.
What inspired you to begin creating art?
It’s really simple: I like pictures better than words and I always have.
What do you hope to create in the mind of the person viewing your art?
If the work engages anyone else, I’m content. Whatever they bring to it is fine with me.
Of all the places you have traveled to, what place in particular stands out? And why?
There’s a spot in Brittany France, in the Bay of Audierne that is really special for me. It’s not unlike the Outer Banks of North Carolina: grassy dunes giving way to empty, flat beach. In my 20’s I spent a lot of time there with friends, sharing waves and bullshitting in the parking lot afterwards: pulling cold, gritty crepes out of plastic sacks with white-numb fingers and chasing them with warm Kronenbourg’s and bent cigarettes. Bunkers with graffiti sit tilted in the wet sand there, but otherwise it is pristine.
Who/what inspires you?
I’m lucky: I know a lot of artists and between us, the failures and successes collectively; the exchange of ideas, it’s inspiring. My wife.
What is the greatest thing you have learned in your life?
To listen to my mother. Always listen to your Mom! Then you can talk to your Dad too.
Do you have any regrets or wish you had done something differently?
Yeah, there’s few things in there.
What are you most proud of?
I take pride in the accomplishments of a few people I really care about.
What meaning does surfing hold for you and how has it changed your life?
The feeling of riding a wave; going fast, the slur of the water and vibrations coming through your feet; the twisting perspective –all of that direct rushing sensation – I haven’t found that anywhere else. The obliterative potential of riding waves; the way it can utterly eclipse the world and just completely overwhelm you is something I don’t want to live without.
What brings you the most happiness in the world?
Who are some of the people you feel are shaping the path for surfing today?
Surfing seems pretty wide-open right now. I like what Dane Reynolds is up to. He seems to bring an open mind to lots of different equipment and his surfing shrieks mainlined creativity, from where I’m standing. He’s just unbridled.
What “Golden Rule” do you live by?
Honesty’s the best policy.
What is your favorite board? Your favorite surfspot?
I’m getting amazing boards from Cordell Miller. Right now it’s a 5’11” that Cordell made for me. Its epoxy and totally anemic at 2 3/16” thick but the rocker is a little relaxed and the outline is wider than normal so it has all the floaty bonus of a fish without the sticky forward rail that I was not liking in fishes. I have a couple favorite spots, both in the Atlantic but they’re local and will go unnamed. Sorry.
What’s your favorite meal?
I couldn’t narrow it to one meal. But I’ll say there’s a bar in Rhode Island that makes a clear-broth clam chowder. It’s basically like eating the smell of low tide, hot with potatoes, scant clams and sand. Fucking unbelievable. Gets me every time.
What are you currently listening to on your iPod?
I listen to cd’s at my studio and I’m weird about putting something on and listening to it all the way through. I like guitar music and my taste wanders. Lately I’m listening to Lightnin’ Hopkins, Sonic Youth, old Metallica records and Ty Segall and I’ve been wallowing in a two-year-long full-blown infatuation with anything J Mascis-related, so it’s been heaps of Dinosaur stuff…
What are you most grateful for?
My sister and parents and my wife.
What’s next for Alex Weinstein?
Work in my studio continues but my thoughts are on a plane right now.