Archive for June, 2010

The Earth Says Hello

Whenever I am faced with the decision about whether I should make it a long night out or a dawn patrol I have always chosen the latter.  To me there is little better than getting in the water and surfing just as the sun is breaking the horizon.  Crowds are usually at a minimum, and the wind almost always stays light so that conditions are clean and glassy.

This morning was no different. After almost two weeks without waves every surfer I know was waiting for the small swell that came our way today. This was evidenced by the number of people who were in the water with me at 6:00 am. The local crowd was in effect, with Travis “Big Hack,” “Step-Down” James and “Long Board” Dean all sitting at one of my favorite spots exchanging waves.  I was happy to join them.

The waves were small and summery.  It was like a few drops of water on the tongue while wandering the desert; just enough to keep you going but not enough to quench the thirst.

There were a few other faces that I did not recognize.  While waiting for a set I overheard their conversation, and I realized that localism is not dead, especially for the dawn patrol crowd.  One of the guys was barking about “some Guido who has been on the beach all summer, yelling and barking out orders to his friends and family.”  The guy went on with much vigor about how he “hopes to see him in the water one day.”

At Least For the DP

I would say that this alarmed me somewhat, but this was dawn patrol.  This was local hour, and I was somewhat glad that there was an inclination to regulate in the pack.  In fairness to everyone else, I will go squeeze in among the herbs and kooks for an afternoon session when the tide drops after 2:00 pm, and I fully expect a free for all of tourists and Bennies. 

That will be fine.  Locals can play nice in the sandbox then, just as long as we have the dawn patrol intact.


Out of the Blue (Oil on Panel 12"x24") © 2007 Alders<b><a href="" mce_href="" target="_blank">Buy Now</a></b>

Talent is a funny thing.  Everyone has their strengths and their unique attributes.  Some people take time and energy to develop their particular set of skills, while others seem to let their talents waste away.  Another interesting aspect of talent is that it often goes to a person’s head. 

This is not the case with surf artist Jay Alders.  One look at his artwork and it is undeniable that he exudes talent and that he has developed it.  He also has an absolute knack for capturing the feel of surfing and the lifestyle that surfers cherish.  Yet none of this has gone to his head.  I recently had the chance to sit and talk with him over a cup of coffee and what follows are portions of a very interesting conversation:

Sea Sand Surf:  The first time I saw your paintings I was here in this very Starbucks (in Neptune, New Jersey).  It must have been a couple of years ago. 

Jay Alders: Yeah, they have shown my work twice now.

SSS:  I was immediately struck by your ability to capture light.  You have a way of bringing the visually translucent nature of the surfing experience to the canvas.  How do you do that?

Anxious Contentment (Oil on Panel) <b><a href="" mce_href="" target="_blank">Buy Now</a></b>

JA:  I have always been interested in the way that things work.  When I am surfing or looking at the ocean I am curious about the way that light interacts with the wave.  I am intrigued by the curves that appear naturally in the ocean, along the dunes of the beach and in the human form as well.

SSS: How do you cultivate that awareness and what inspires you?

JA: I just try to pay attention to the details in life. Whether listening to music, checking the waves or watching a seagull fly across the beach I try to understand the movement  and seek inspiration in everything. 

SSS: So were you always an artist who had a primary focus on surfing?

JA: Not necessarily. My whole life, I’ve been into skateboarding.  It was not until I got my driver’s license that I started surfing regularly at Manasquan Inlet and started obsessing over waves and surfing.

SSS: So you were officially bitten by the bug too.

JA: Yes, officially bitten… (laughs)

SSS: When did that creative change take place for you?  As an artist you are renowned for capturing the surf vibe.

JA: I had been working on a painting titled Back to Me during a point in my life which was very transformational, hence the title Back to Me which holds several meanings. Upon moving to the beach, I was about ready to complete the piece. I painted a window in the background looking out onto the beach and it dawned on me to try to incorporate my love of the ocean in some future pieces.  That was 5-6 years ago now.

Back to Me (Oil on Canvas)

SSS: So that window literally opened a new world for you.

JA: (laughs) I suppose you could say that. Life imitating art…

SSS: Exactly. And speaking of life, how do you fit surfing into your routines as an artist.

JA: Like most New Jersey Surfers I am forced to suffer through long flat spells, so when the waves come I do everything I can to be on it. 

SSS: Living in Belmar helps I am sure.

JA: Absolutely.  I am able to keep my eye on conditions.  When the swell, winds and tides combine, I make it priority to grab my board and run for the local break.

SSS: One of my favorite paintings of yours is Solitube. I love the play on words too.  This is a quality of life that is difficult to find in New Jersey and surfing provides that peace for a lot of us.  How has the fast pace of New Jersey influenced you?

Solitube (Oil on Panel - 24"x24") © 2007 Alders <b><a href="" mce_href="" target="_blank">Buy Now</a></b>

JA: Jersey is tough place.  I have had the chance to travel quite a bit and there are few places as intense.  The one thing that living here has taught me is how to hustle.  To be successful and make a career as an artist you need to have business sense, and New Jersey teaches you that the hard way.

SSS: In keeping with the theme of intensity and difficulty, how would you represent the BP spill as an artist?  Your work brings such a positive light into the world, but how would you handle that subject if you had to?

A laughing gull in distress tries to climb on an oil boom

JA: Man, that is a tough one. As an artist it is a struggle to make a political comment that is not overly heavy handed. My initial reaction is that I would take an emotional approach, maybe an oil slick wave or an injured bird. Artistically, I do my best to bring an optimistic approach to the work, but I do think it is important to document the times that we live in.

SSS: Well, your work is absolutely awesome, and I know that you are on the move. I can’t thank you enough for taking some time to have a chat.  What is on the immediate horizon?

Second Glance (Oil on Canvas Board 18"x24")  <b><a href="" mce_href="" target="_blank">Buy Now</a></b>

JA: I am leaving for a three tour stop of Brazil in conjunction with Almasurf this week. I’ll be on tour with John Butler Trio and Rob Machado which is pretty rad. It is a music and art festival and I am stoked to be invited back this year.  On July 14th I have an exhibition planned at Langosta Lounge in Asbury Park. My friend Donavan Frankenreiter is playing a concert across the street and he’ll be making a guest apperance at my show as he did last year .

SSS: Excellent news. I am sure the surf community will be in effect that night.  I know buzz is starting to spread already. Hopefully Donavan will bring a swell with him on his tour bus.  This flat spell is killing me.

JA: He brought some big swell last summer.  We had a sweet run of waves that week when he was in town.  Donavan is a great guy, and I think he has it written into his tour rider that there needs to be waves wherever he goes (laughs).

SSS: Let’s hope so, because if it works out for him it works out for all of us hardened Jersey Surfers.  Is there anything else of interest?

JA: I will be at The Pit in the Outer Banks of North Carolina on July 9th and 10th for a solo art exhibit and charity skate to raise money for Surf Aid International.  Our musician friends The Movement, Quincy Mumford & Gabe Gomez will be performing, and our bro’s from Original Skateboards will be doing longboard skating demos and releasing the new line of Jay Alders Longboard Skateboards.

SSS: So there is no shortage of upcoming events.  Of course we can follow along at  With any luck, we can get you to check in again along the way. We are wishing you the best.  Just don’t let the rest of the world know that Jersey gets waves too.

JA: (laughs) No doubt.  It is best to keep it our little secret.

The Atlantic Ocean did not care that today was International Surfing Day.  Southwest winds and high pressure meant nothing for the prospect of waves.  It is flat spells like this that can give rise to melancholy and despair.  Alas, I am still grateful to be a surfer though, and I take solace in the fact that good waves will come soon, and they will feel all the sweeter for the prolonged down time.

I did however take stock of my quiver today and it is a Regular Joe’s quiver at best. 

Flat Spells Are For the Dogs

First (L to R) we have the 9 foot soft top.  This was a gift from the owners of a surf school where I instructed a few summers ago.  All of you big time bankers and CEOs can keep your 6 figure bonuses, this was a true blessing.  I am counting on it seeing some action this summer too, as I prepare to teach my father how to surf. Happy Father’s Day Pops!

WCT, Here I Come

Now, I know that the words “Fun Shape” will often draw an evil eye from those who think they are in the know.  But this Kia Nalu is 7’ 3,’  it paddles like butter and is Hawaiian shaped.  I can just hear the sneers and jeers as I paddle out into a crowded lineup, but hell this board is fun!

The Fun Starts Here

 Next, we have my 6’ 4” Local Motion.  The board is a rocket.  Of course, at the time of purchase I completely overestimated the arch of my progression.  I guess that I was momentarily enthralled with the idea of pulling a powerful bottom turn, smashing the lip, pumping twice through a meaty barrel before busting a massive cutback and boosting an air as an exclamation point.  I do none of this.  I have however had some great rides on the thing and it serves an occasional purpose.


The Thorn In My Side

Lastly, there is my Steady Freddy.  This is the 6’ 7s Superfish.  This board is awesome fun.  The step down rails allow me to turn quite well.  The swallow tail keeps it light and loose, and I ride this board 90% of the time now. 


Great For the Daily Commute

I did not mention Big Red, but I have blogged about my long standing love affair with this beast previously. Tim, from Identity Surf is currently giving it some TLC, and I know that when the time is right we will get some fun ones.  I will even work on that cross-step that I abandoned all of those years ago.


My International Surf Day quiver evaluation does leave me wanting more.  Isn’t that they way a quiver works though?  Aren’t we always in search of that next great board?  I know that I am.  And not having surf to ride only makes it worse!   

If you have any suggestions about what board would help round this motley crew out, I am open to advice…

Thanks for checking in.