By Scott Bass
Jeff Divines photographic exhibit The 70s: Surf Photography by Jeff Divine and Classic Boards from the Era opened Saturday evening at the Oceanside Museum of Art. I went. I witnessed. You should go too. Like all good art, it transported me: a full bladder at Stone Steps; a cool North Shore dawn; a time when style was king. The exhibit features iconic images that master lensman Divine shot during the subcultures self realization decade. The museum itself is very casual with a clean aesthetic, albeit a bit hot with the 100 or so legends and luminaries hobnobbing.
The surfing subculture in the 1970s was based upon a sentimentality driven by the late 1960s social movements in America. Like an awkward teenager with zits and big feet, surfing was dealing with an identity crisis and moved towards its first installment of inward reflection. What are we? What do we want to become? The subculture leaned on the thriving surf scene in Hawaii to define itself (and as a great place to get away from the man). Jeff Divine and his camera were there. A period of outward rebellion pronounced by an anti-contest, anti-establishment sentiment took hold. But if the first half of the decade is to be summarily characterized as drop out and tune in then the second half saw the germination of a young industry. Transient surfers who either moved to or from Hawaii began acting upon their own query, Can we somehow make a living doing this? Again, Jeff Divine was there to capture the evolvement of the culture and the not quite yet in-focus concept of surfing as sport.
Jeff Divine, widely regarded as possessing one of the quintessential 70s surf portfolios, clearly accentuates this unique era within this exhibit. A well thought out selection of era specific imagery graces the walls of the museum along with a sampling of surfboards from the slipper nose pintail decade.
Among the many guests at the gallery opening on Saturday were surf industry luminaries such as Herbie Fletcher, John Van Hammersveld, Bird Huffman, Scott Hulet, Tom Keck, Kevin Kinnear, Mickey Munoz, Kevin Naughton and Craig Petersen. When opening the show Jeff Divine offered words of thanks to his guests for supporting his work and in keeping with the support theme Divine added, there are a lot of surfers in Iraq and Afghanistan and we should all support them and keep them in our thoughts. Fitting, as Oceanside is a US Marine community.
In July Jeff Divine will be giving a talk at the Oceanside Museum of Art exhibit. In keeping with the 70s theme the museum is also presenting a Hal Jepsen movie screening. For more info log on to the museum website.