It says something about the popularity of an art show — especially one centered around surfing in a shore town like Ocean City — when the show actually outlives the art gallery that created it.
But that’s the case with the 11th annual Art of Surfing Festival, which will run from Thursday (Aug. 4) to Saturday at the Music Pier. The festival was started by the owners of the former Sagemore Surf Gallery in the city.
But a little thing like the closing of the gallery wasn’t enough to squash this popular festival.
“The economy took its toll on us,” says Steve Miller, one of the gallery’s former owners. “But we still maintain all our contacts and we’re in touch with our artists and this show has always been really popular. So it’ll be a little like a reunion for us this year, you know, like seeing our long lost cousins.”
Miller and his partners first got the inspiration for the show in a moment of pure surfing zen — while waiting for waves in a surfer’s lineup off Ocean City’s beaches.
“We looked around us and we realized that there were doctors and bankers and lawyers … just all types of people out there with us. And we thought, ‘With so many people into surfing, how would a show on surfing art do?’
So the first year we held it around Christmas, and more than 300 people showed up for opening night,” says Miller. “I mean they crowded into our small gallery. So we thought, ‘Man, what would happen if we had it in August?’ So the next year we tried it and got 3,000 people and its been growing since then.”
Eventually the event grew so large it moved into the Music Pier. As the show continued to draw, it eventually was able to grab a premiere date, the first weekend in August which coincides with the city’s annual Boardwalk Art show. That show, scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, brings out regional artists who set up their wares on the city’s Boardwalk.
“People say to us, aren’t they your competitors?,” says Miller. “No. We both benefit from each other. It’s more artists and more art to enjoy and hopefully buy. It just makes the whole event better.”
As part of the Art of Surfing Festival, free live music will be presented each night in the Music pier’s Loggia at 6pm. Two bands perform Thursday and Friday and The Sharkskins headline Saturday.
Also appearing at the festival will be former 76ers owner Pat Croce, signing his book Blackbeard, from 7-9pm Friday.
“We have something for everyone and we really try to make it a family event,” says Miller. “There’s everything from posters that are $10 to original oil paintings that can be $3,000 to $4,000 dollars. And everything in between. It’s just really a fun event that seem to bring more people out each year.”
The Art of Surfing Festival will be held 7-10pm Thursday and noon-10pm Fri. and Sat. The Boardwalk Art Show will be held from 10am-6pm Fri. and Sat. and 10am-4pm Sunday. n
Monday, Aug. 8
Herman’s Hermits Featuring Peter Noone
Music Pier, Moorlyn Terrace and Boardwalk. Part of the Stockton Goes to the Beach Summer Concert Series. The Hermits sold over 80 million records and had twenty Top 20 hits including: “I’m Henry VIII, I Am,” “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter,” and “Just A Little Bit Better.” $30. 8pm. Call 525-9300 or visit ocnj.us.
Tuesday, Aug. 9 to Aug. 10
Ocean City Pops - ‘Broadway Tribute’
Plus, GACGA hopes to lure golf travelers, Drew Toonz and the Album of the Week (Van Morrison)