Going Coastal readers will remember the book’s “One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s…Guitar?” chapter, featuring Robbie Schoen’s gorgeously clever (and fully functional) electric guitars made from found objects. Schoen is the longtime director of Santa Cruz’s Felix Kulpa Gallery, and curates the art installations at Santa Cruz County Bank locations. Whenever I’ve walked into Santa Cruz’s Museum of Art and History, I’ve spotted Schoen setting up or taking down exhibitions. In other words, it’s impossible for me to imagine the Santa Cruz art scene without Robbie Schoen. So, I was stunned to learn that Schoen is recovering from a massive stroke he suffered on February 10th at the MAH. Schoen’s Medi-Cal coverage will not be enough to cover the amount and quality of rehab that he’ll need, so his daughter Nikita has created a fundraising website. Those who are more comfortable writing checks may send them to the following address:
Robbert Schoen Rehab Fund
Santa Cruz County Bank
720 Front Street
Santa Cruz CA 95060
Attn: Mary Anne Carson
To coincide with Santa Cruz’s First Friday arts activities, a living tribute to and appreciation of Schoen will take place on March 3rd from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Felix Kulpa Gallery, 107 Elm Street in downtown Santa Cruz.
While I had to miss the much-anticipated ceremonial opening of Princes of Surf at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History’s First Friday celebration earlier this month, I managed to visit the exhibition a few days ago. Princes of Surf tells the story of Hawaiian princes David Kawananakoa, Edward Keli’iahonui, and Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana’ole, detailing their visit to Santa Cruz in the summer of 1885. It serves as a prequel of sorts to the MAH’s 2010 exhibition Surf City Santa Cruz: A Wave of Inspiration, which is featured prominently in Going Coastal.
Since Surf City Santa Cruz filled an entire floor of the museum, I admit I was surprised to see Princes of Surf in a small gallery. The intimate setting is a strategic move, since it ensures that visitors focus on two historic surfboards from the princes’ Santa Cruz summer.
I’m not a surfer (what can I say, I grew up fearing undertow and sharks), but I was intrigued by the differences between the princes’ boards and today’s lighter, shorter, wider models. Princes of Surf is worth seeing in person, as is Dear Jerry on the MAH’s second floor. (While I’m not a Grateful Dead aficionado, I couldn’t help but be impressed by the scope and variety of fan art displayed on decades’ worth of ticket giveaway envelopes!)