Many years ago I was fortunate enough to find myself in the South Beaches of Los Angeles where I stumbled on the Laguna Beach Art Museum on the Pacific Coast Highway. The Museum was hosting a particularly interesting exhibition, the 'Eye Tattoo America',curated by none other than Ed Hardy himself(fortunately pre-Christian Audigier). This exhibition was a celebration of the American Tattoo as folk art and so in validating this angle there was an amazing assemblage of traditional ink flashes and vintage photographs from the genres masters including Sailor Jerry but it also explored how tattooing had influenced art, both fine and low-brow and so there was a roll call of talented painters, sculptors and wood carvers.
I had originally conceived this piece as a tangent line of how and why alternate contemporary surfers have adopted a mantle akin to their seafaring brethren, sailors, seamen and the like as I believed this link would reveal the origins of the beards and anchor tattoos that are now au de rigour out in the lineup these days. The logic to me was obvious; Nautical themed art show amidst a prominent surfing community, it wouldn't take long for the forward thinking kids to establish their own thread.
However while exploring the artists that were featured in this show, I came across the website of George Klauba. George was inspired by his uncle Roman Rokuizo, a WWII sailor who survived a Kamakazi which attacked and sunk his ship the Destroyer USS Reed in the shark infested waters of the Philippine Sea in 1944. Following his uncles footsteps George joined the Navy in 1956 and served until his discharge where he began a career as a commercial artist in Chicago. Disillusioned he began to explore the fine arts and used his seafaring experience as a major source of inspiration for his work. His portfolio can be viewed at www.georgeklauba.com. Of note is his WWII series as well as Moby Dick and his Celestial Voyages.
I vaguely remember seeing some of his works at the exhibition but as this was back in about 1995 everything seemed a little hazy now. Upon this rediscovery I decided to skip the surfing analogy and just post my favourite works of George Klauba for you to enjoy.
Hair-On and Deerskin - This one combines hair on cowhide with that other staple of western style leather jackets: deerskin. There were no makers tags on this jacket, but it's pro...
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