Sophisticated Living Indianapolis

JUL-AUG 2012

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Faces of Surfing Written by Alix Rice The surfing industry is notably colorful. Art and design have been an integral part of the surfing culture, influencing everything from the styles of surfing films, board and clothing design, and the personalities' interests in the industry. Although art, music and film have been a major part of surfing, the fine art world is now being introduced to the surfing community through its own language of painting. Letty Nowak (, an expert in the surfing industry but also a master painter, is merging her knowledge and passions in her newest body of work called "Faces of Surfing," a series of 100 large scale oil paintings portraying a spectrum of notable individuals in the surfing community including athletes, professionals, brand leaders, characters and philanthropists. Nowak recalls "watching surfing movies over cereal in the mornings before school." She was raised in South Haven, Michigan, with a father who was not only a sign painter and screen printer but also owned several of the first surf shops in the area and was a great surf enthusiast. Following in her father's footsteps, Nowak lives between La Jolla, where she surfs and has a painting studio, and Key West where she has ownership of several surf shops herself. Nowak's father was not only a great inspiration for her but was also a mentor; she 56 remembers experimenting with color, line and composition with her father. It was during her college career at Michigan State University that Nowak developed her true passion for painting. As a project at the university, she was assigned to pick a subject matter to work with for her final semester. She chose portraiture and her stylemark was born. Noted by her distinct, colorful and large- scale painting, she states, "I see my portraits as abstract pieces of blocks of color that come together to create the recognizable image of a face. I work to make each piece more about the actual painting through my marks and color even more than the subject I am portraying. Tis is an intriguing challenge to me – especially when painting recognizable people." Her first 25 of the series were shown at Hurley's Town Hall in Costa Mesa, California, in October of 2011. Her most recent exhibition this past March was at Te La Jolla Art Association Gallery. Nowak has exhibited in New York City, Montauk, Key West, Laguna Beach and La Jolla. Through the planned worldwide traveling exhibition of this series, Nowak hopes that the intention of this body of work is fulfilled by introducing the fine art world to the surfing industry. Letty Nowak is certainly sitting on top of the world waiting to catch the next wave. sl Bob Hurley, oil on canvas, 72 x 63 inches

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