Text by Beau Flemister | Images courtesy of artist
I meet Mark Oblow in the near-empty Fitted warehouse in Kakaʻako, the very space where his first of four shows entitled “Hawaii, Stuck To Me” will commence Friday, June 24. Save for but a few dozen fascinating pieces he’s created for the show already installed on the walls, there are cases of Waiola Coconut water and beers on the ground in the middle of the large room.
I thought I’d be a cool guy and bring a six-pack of Red Stripe for the meet, but both Oblow and his manager respectfully decline. They ain’t drinking lately. But I guess I could’ve asked first.
A surfer, skateboarder, professional photographer, industry influencer, creative director, brand consultant, former team manager, and now fulltime artist, Oblow has intense eyes, and hands like a true craftsman. That is to say, hands that don’t look like they just push a button, but rather, saw, shape, cut, and make stuff on a regular basis. We walk by his pieces—an array of old dead-stock skateboards with his own images and other multimedia art covering them beneath layers of polymer resin—as he explains his method and influences.
“Growing up on Oʻahu, I surfed first, then skated, so artistically I actually looked to guys like Cheyne Horan and Lazor Zap,” says Oblow of his pieces in “Stuck To Me.” “Plus, I was always running my boards into the reef over here and fixing dings, buffing, that whole thing. Which somehow turned into photography and painting and stenciling. … But it all came through surfing, skateboarding, and Hawaiʻi—these were the three most important things that stuck to me. Much like the spray paint and resin that’d be on my clothes and hands.”
When Oblow talks, you can tell he means it; his speech has a measured passion to it, void of any bullshit. Raised in Hawaiʻi Kai, he tells me about growing up on Oʻahu immersed in surf and skate, about his relocation to California, and his incidental rise in the fashion-photography world. The guy’s worked around pretty much every pro surfer and skater, along with the likes of Justin Bieber, David Beckham, Ozzy Osbourne and many, many supermodels.
Looking around the large warehouse at his work, I get it. The art is intricate, nostalgic, surf-skate-fashion-inspired—you can almost smell the dried resin. And if you’ve ever attempted to fix your own ding on a surfboard before, that pungent chemistry of chemicals is a weirdly special scent. A scent that indeed does stick to you for a while.
See “Hawaii, Stuck To Me” for yourself at:
Friday, June 24, 2016 – Opening Reception at FITTED Kaka‘ako Warehouse (746 Cooke St.)
Saturday, June 25, 2016 – Open House at FITTED Kaka‘ako Warehouse (250 Ward Ave. #233)
Monday, June 27, 2016 – Special Installation at TREEHOUSE
Sunday, July 3, 2016 – Closing Show at APB Skateshop (185 N King St.)