Like so much in surf culture, the “Fix the Shadows” photography show was an impromptu communal event.
It all started with a search for some quiet downtime, a bit of stillness in a life of the long-traveling pro surfer Warren Smith.
He met up Nick LaVecchia, a professional photographer from York whose work has graced the pages of everything from Surfer’s Journal to Outside to National Geographic Adventure. And together, the pro surfer who loves photography and the pro photographer who loves surfing converted a vacant garage along the beach in York into a makeshift darkroom.
For the past three months, their days were filled with photographing the stark qualities of surfing cold waves, skating backyard barn ramps, and watching the beaches make their annual transformation into virtual ghost towns.
Other photographers joined in — including Dion Agius, Dustin Miller, Brian Nevins, Craig Anderson, and Cole Barash — sharing the temporary art space.
“The idea for the show just happened at a sushi dinner one night,” Smith said.
And, less than a month later, dozens of people were enjoying a cocktail party at Room with A View in Portland, perusing framed auction prints and a mishmash of unframed prints from artists who passed through the house during the project. Quirky music by The Jaw Gems and upscale beer by Oxbow Brewing created a festive atmosphere.
“We’re all supporting the surf scene,” said Emily Krams of Westbrook.
All proceeds were pledged to Hurricane Sandy relief through Waves4Water.org, an organization started by a surfer that works to provide clean water to communities in need around the world.
“East Coast surfing is a small group,” said Tyler McGinley, who curated the show. “One of the spots that got hit hard by Sandy is a huge surf spot. To be able to support that makes the show that much more meaningful.”
“It’s definitely a different scene than the typical art show in Portland,” said photographer Leah Arsenault of Portland. Her surfer buddy Brent Rand of Cape Elizabeth agreed, commenting that in the midst of so much digital photography he enjoyed seeing old-fashioned printmaking, most of it in black-and-white.
“We’ve yet to explore the whole thing, but we’re not disappointed, that’s for sure,” said Ashley Lockwood of Portsmouth, N.H. “It was worth the drive.”
“I haven’t really seen a lot of these photos, but I may have seen them when they were being taken,” said Byrdy DiLando of York, a longtime friend of Molly LaVecchia, who cooked group dinners for her photographer husband and his buddies. “There’s a really great communal feel, like one big extended family.”
The show was sponsored in part by Warren Smith’s pro surfing sponsors — Insight clothing, RAEN Optics, and culture magazine Monster Children. After the exhibition in Portland, Smith is taking the show on the road over the next couple of months in Los Angeles and Australia, Monster Children headquarters sites.
Even though Smith isn’t always a fan of cold water, joked show producer Jim McGinley of The Fin Studio, “He loves Maine waves.”
“We’ve got 4,000 miles of coastline.” McGinley said. “You can find your own waves.”
Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer from Scarborough. She can be contacted at: