World Champion Surfer Kelly Slater Threw an Art Show About Politics

The 11-time World Surf League Champion teamed up with Bruce Reynolds, Kevin Ancell, and Todd Glaser to present a vision of activism in Venice, CA.

by Beckett Mufson
23 September 2016, 4:50am

Todd Glaser, I.C.U – Pacific Ocean, 2014. Direct print to aluminum. Images courtesy the artists

He might be the 11-time World Surf League Champion, but this week Kelly Slater threw his hat into the political art ring with a Venice Beach show called Apolitical Process. Perhaps in reaction to the media frenzy around Donald Trump, this election cycle has seen the art community become incredibly active. Slater's show, which features work from longtime friend Bruce Reynolds, and artists Kevin Ancell and Todd Glaser, arrives in the wake of an artist-led Super PAC, a Rock the Vote art show at the DNC, a nude art action at the RNC, viral nude paintings, and a legally-precarious tomb stone.

Billed as "a vision by Kelly Slater curated by PM Tenore," the surfing icon's voice amidst all this ruckus is unexpected but far from unwelcome. Apolitical Process gathers Ancell's gorgeously decorated surfboards, Glaser's crisp black-and-white photography, and Reynolds' collage-like sculptures, the latter of which are the core of the show. "The exhibition [started with] riffs between Bruce and I about politics," Slater tells The Creators Project. As a result, the mixed-media sculptures and paintings heavily feature concepts about Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders. "Bruce isn't necessarily trying to say one thing or another, but reflect the way [political campaigns] are reported on and how people have an opinion about them or view them," Slater says.

Bruce Reynolds, The Great Wall of Trump, 2016. Acrylic, collage, found object on plywood

The first riff between the artist and the surf legend actually started when Slater was playing golf with Huey Lewis and they started talking about the news. This was at the time Trump's presidential campaign was budding, and Lewis didn't approve. Says Slater, "Donald leads everything off by saying, 'You know, I really hate to say this,' but then he tells you. And [Lewis] goes, 'You know if you hate to say something, you don't say it.'" He recounted the story to Reynolds, who decided to make an artwork based on the idea. They sent it to Lewis for Christmas, and from there, Reynolds was hooked.

Bruce Reynolds, Impulses, 2016. Found objects, enamel on chip board

The fruit of he and Slater's conversation makes up the majority of Apolitical Process, alongside Ancell and Glaser's work to show Slater's history and surf culture itself. Reynolds' most eye-grabbing pieces are a series of guns made from an assortment of junk. Titles like Janie's Got a Gun and Vendetta Beretta hint at Reynolds' satirical position—he built the first gun as a reaction to the Pulse nightclub shooting—but the work remains ambiguous. "Everyone who sees these guns loves them, whether they are for or against gun laws," explains Slater. "Everyone gravitates towards these pieces. One guy will be like, 'Wow these are amazing, I love guns,' and next guy will be like, 'Wow these are amazing, I hate guns.' It doesn't really speak to one way or the other. However are you feel, it can speak to you."

Peep more of the artworks of Apolitical Process in the images below:

Bruce Reynolds, Bernie Sanders’ Socialist Express (Come ‘On and Take A Free Ride), 2016. Found object sculpture

Bruce Reynolds, Janie’s Got a Gun, 2016. Found objects, enamel on chip board

Bruce Reynolds, Vendetta Beretta, 2016. Found objects, enamel on chip board

Bruce Reynolds, Lyin’ Ted, 2016. Found object sculpture

Kevin Ancell, Blackfish – Orca, 2014 -15. India ink on resined fiberglass surfboard

See more of Bruce Reynolds', Kevin Ancell's, and Todd Glaser's work on their websites, and keep up with Kelly Slater on Instagram.


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