There ain’t no party like a Texas Surf party, ’cause a Texas Surf party don’t stop – at least, not until its attendees are full on surf & turf, tequila, and exquisite black & white photo mementos from the Texas Gulf Coast.
This past Saturday, art enthusiasts, friends, family, and fans of photographer Kenny Braun gathered at the Stephen L. Clark Gallery to celebrate Braun’s Surf Texas book, an extended photo essay of Texas’ Gulf Coast swells and surf culture. With delectable goodies catered by Jack Allen’s Kitchen and Tequila 512 in hand, surfers and art aficionados milled about the gallery beneath a decor of surfboards and paddles. Frequently overheard: “Is that dolphin Photoshopped?!” and “These images are so sharp!”
Braun’s surf collection, all black and white and many with dreamlike vignettes, was completed over 15 years, with the oldest photo taken in 1996. The span of years devoted to the project was complimented by a span of camera models, including a Holga, Hasselblad, DSLRs, and a variety of point-and-shoots and 35mm disposable water cameras. Braun said he wanted his body of surf photographs to embody an impressionistic, documentary approach. From behind the lenses of everything from disposable point-and-shoots to DSLRs, Braun said he “tried to see if [he] could capture the impressions: what it smelled like, what it felt like.”
While sitting on a surfboard with just one roll of film in the camera may intimidate some, Braun said from his days as a freelance photographer with film, his skills have been honed to get the shot he wants in just one or two frames. And even in the case of Surf Texas, Braun said sometimes he would get the shot, and sometimes he wouldn’t – what was more important was using his array of film-loaded weapons to capture the impressions.
Braun said that since the book’s release on March 15, Surf Texas has been very well received by Texas’ Gulf Coast. At its celebration this past Saturday, Austin embraced the project just as well – and it wasn’t just the tequila talking, either. Gallery owner Stephen Clark said Surf Texas looms large on his list of all time favorite events, and that the exhibit’s opening party that preceded the celebration was the biggest single gallery crowd that he has seen in his many years in the Austin art world.
“Beyond the opening, the stream of people has been endless,” Clark said. “The most remarkable thing of all to me is that it is the overall nicest, nay, sweetest group of people that I have encountered in my 48 years of activity in the ‘art world’!”
Read more Summer Fun stories (and check out the last few years of fun) at austinchronicle.com/summer-fun as we slather on the SPF and lead up to the release of our special annual issue celebrating Austin's sunniest season. The Austin Chronicle’s 2014 Summer Fun Issue hits the stands Thursday, May 16.
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