Cutting up good art

COSTA MESA — James Marshall, known better as the artist "Dalek," unveiled his 8-foot-tall, 37-foot-long continuous mural to the public Wednesday night at Hurley's )( Space gallery.

Hundreds of people stopped by the room, staring at the piece, which spanned two walls.

Buyers, who could purchase a slice of the painting by the square foot, used a Plexiglas square to decide which part would be their future painting. The audience stared as men in white Hurley lab coats had the difficult task of cutting out pieces of the mural.

Fans came from Orange County and beyond to see Dalek's newest endeavor.

David Wright, 28, of Seal Beach, heard about the show through art blogs and was excited about the purchase of a 4-foot-by-4-foot section of the mural.

"Blues, reds, greens, yellows … it has everything I need," said Wright. "It has the ray at the top, color spectrum and the black door to infinity on the left."

Wright, who has a background in printmaking, appreciated Dalek's mural in a special way.

"When you lay down a nice clean line and peel it clean, there is an element of hard work and craftsmanship that isn't around anymore," he said.

Josh Knight, a Long Beach resident, is an artist known for installation work. He found himself reveling at the floor-to-ceiling piece.

"I get tons of inspiration," he said.

Fascinated by the artist's idea to chop the painting up, Knight wondered what they would do with the extra pieces. Knight couldn't have been happier about his cutout.

"Nothing encompassed what I consider a Dalek painting to be more than that piece right there," he said.

Knight was the fourth person to cut out a piece of the mural, behind Bob Hurley, founder of Costa Mesa-based Hurley, a Hurley employee and Sean Penn.

The Academy Award winner attended the event and was supposed to show up at the cutting and pose for photographers, but reportedly ducked out early and headed home.

Penn had been invited because of his connection to the nonprofit, Waves for Water, which is present at the U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach (Hurley is a co-sponsor). The "Milk" star managed to pick out a piece of the mural before he left.

The mural was a group effort by Dalek and a team of six at Hurley.

Dalek numbered paint cans and put the corresponding number in the area, making the mural a group endeavor. The drawing took place over four days, and it took another seven to paint.

How did Dalek feel about seeing his mural being cut?

"I like it now that it's getting more splotchy," he said. "At first it was like, 'Oh, we're going to take it apart orderly and neat.' I really wanted to see it get cut up in a more chaotic way."

Chaotic is right. Random islands, and strips isolated on the wall, were starting to show. There was a thin line, measuring about a foot, in the middle of the mural. However, Dalek had an idea about what to do with the unusable remnants.

"I think we're going to try to take all that, what's left over, and build it into something else," he said.

Dalek said that he and his team had discussed creating another painting, or possibly repurposing it into hand-stitched bags.

The artist also took time to answer a fan's question.

In the popular British TV series "Doctor Who," daleks are robots given the task of wiping out mankind, an interesting choice for an artist's name. Did he get it from the show?


When he was younger and tagging [graffiti], the name "Dalek" represented the anger and the complicated feelings he had. Now, Dalek said, it doesn't have the same meaning to him.

"Now the work and how I feel about life is completely different for me, but the name stays."

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