Mike Parker, an artist and surfer, has a feel for the artistic potential in a subculture. He has that in common with the laid-back ‘60s art mavericks like Craig Kauffman who turned surfboard materials into art. For Parker, it’s not the materials but the logo, the florescent colored appeal of the slick packaging and funky imagery of the surfer market that is ripe for appropriation. His bizarre, but so hip, canvases are self-portraits in which the artist’s face and name become the logo-stylized epitome of cool.
It’s not hard to see why Parker’s brand of what he calls “Surfrealism” made an impact on New York. All the La La Land vacuity of the Rayban-sporting righteous dude riding a perpetual wave reinforces the New York stereotype of L.A. But the self promotional iconography also meshes nicely with the current thirst for jaded art that comments on its own materialism. And that self-consciousness plays well on either coast.
If Parker takes surfing into art, there are signs that architect and designer Brian Murphy thinks of literally everything in terms of furniture. You name it: surfboards, skateboards, cut-up tree trunks and even picket fences become tables and chairs with a Frank Gehry sensibility for turning odd materials into functional design. The furniture is sometimes clever, but it is the unconventional lamps and wall sconce that are most interesting. The light effects created by a clear vinyl bag filled with crushed glass with a naked bulb stuck in it, or a piece of velum push-pinned over another bulb hung unceremoniously on the wall are surprisingly direct and visually delightful. (Zero One Gallery, 7025 Melrose Ave., to Feb. 17.)