Kevin Ancell's Media Miracle is on exhibit in Collecting California: Selections from Laguna Art Museum . Read below to learn more about the artist and his work. Feel free to post your thoughts and comments!
Kevin Ancell was born in Santa Monica, California, in 1963. Homeless at the age of nine, Ancell was taken in by Craig Stecyk and other artists in Santa Monica. Recalling some of those early years, Ancell states, “Craig didn’t care so much how good you were, but what you were willing to do. He gave me my first paying job.”1 Finishing only seventh grade, Ancell would paint murals for schools, spray-paint surfboards, and graphic design work. Since the age of seven, surfing and skateboarding became significant outlets for Ancell. In discussing his work now, Ancell doesn’t consider himself a conceptual artist and says that he jumps all over the place. Influences for Ancell include old masters like Rembrandt and Caravaggio; contemporary artists like Barry McGee, Sandow Birk, Russell Crotty, Billy Al Bengston; and of course, Craig Stecyk. Ancell explains, “The old masters are really the big influences and Craig’s guerrilla attitude toward approach.”2
Media Miracle (1999) is loosely based on the notorious Maverick’s surf spot just north of Half Moon Bay, California, and painted in the style of the old masters. The two surfers in the painting are Matt Ambrose (left) and Shawn Rhodes (center), both famous surfers who have been surfing at Maverick’s for years. From the sky, angels descend upon the two surfers. They both appear perplexed, and Ambrose holds a rock in his right hand, skeptical of their presence, as if he views the angels as the oncoming corporate media. Two elder figures on the right, representing “the establishment,” try to offer Ambrose and Rhodes a contract and several pieces of gold, eager to get them signed on for endorsements. Media Miracle depicts a final moment before the commercialization of surfing.
~ Grace Kook-Anderson, Curator of Exhibitions at Laguna Art Museum
1. Kevin Ancell, interviewed by Grace Kook-Anderson, September 22, 2009.