Art Gallery Best of the Beach 2022: Surfing the Mind with Bo Bridges

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A mural by Bo Bridges of a surfer diving into a duck was recently unveiled by the City of Manhattan Beach on the side of a downtown parking lot. Another Bridges mural is to be installed on the side of the nearby City Hall. Around the corner on Manhattan Beach Boulevard, the new Esperanza Restaurant plays Bridges’ surf videos for two and a half hours on its 24 big-screen TVs. Other site-specific installations by Bridges are found in homes and businesses in beach towns

All of this work is an unintended consequence of the pandemic, Bridges said.

A recently installed Bo Bridges mural adds color to a downtown Manhattan Beach parking structure. Photo Easy Reader by Kevn Cody

In 2006, he opened a photo gallery in downtown Hermosa Beach. It was a passion project. Bridges made his living traveling the world as an extreme sports photographer. His clients included ESPN, Sony, Disney, ski resorts and surf apparel companies.

He filled the Hermosa gallery with portraits he took of sports figures, including footballer David Beckham, baseball player Derek Jeter, skateboarder Shaun White and tennis player Serena Williams. Extreme sports photos, including a Surfer Magazine cover of Alex Gray in Tahiti, and big wave surfer Garrett McNamara riding the waves generated by a glacier in Alaska, came to break up the portraits.

The portrait photos did not sell well. In 2013, Bridges moved the gallery to downtown Manhattan Beach. The photos still haven’t sold as well as expected. People didn’t want pictures of elite athletes, Bridges learned. They wanted panoramic images of South Bay, without people. He describes them as “mind surfing” photos. During his travels to exotic locations for his extreme sports assignment, he had already begun filming the “playgrounds” of the athletes, without the athletes.

An installation by Bo Bridges enhances the beach cottage feel of this Manhattan Beach home. Photo courtesy of Bo Bridges Gallery

Photos of local beach scenes have long been popular with local residents and photographers. At the end of the street, photographer John Post has sells sweeping views of the beach with lookout towers, the pier, palm trees and sunsets, but never people, since the early 90s.

When the pandemic interrupted sporting events and travel, Bridges focused her attention on her Manhattan Beach gallery.

Gallery activity resumes. People working from home didn’t want to stare at empty walls.

But people rarely “buy off the wall”. They wanted images sized to fit the stairwell of their home or the conference room of their office.

An installation of Bo Bridges at the law firms Greene Broillet and Wheeler
in El Segundo offers different views, depending on the viewer’s position. Photo courtesy of Bo Bridges Gallery

Gallery director Vanessa Zippo began offering on-site consultations. An El Segundo law firm wanted its offices to be uplifting, with crazy colors, like the “Willie Wonka chocolate factory”. On-site consultations have proven so popular that Zippo is now offering them on Zoom for out-of-area customers. Views allow clients to browse Bridges’ decades-long archive.

The gallery also began offering puzzles, coasters, beach towels, baseball caps, and apparel with Beach-centric and “mind surfing” Bridges imagery. Target picked up the clothing line

The fixtures and props are popular, not just because they’re great shots, but because they bear Bridges’ signature bold, arching signature.

Like the athletes and celebrities he photographs, Bo Bridges has become a brand.

Bo Bridges Gallery
1108 Manhattan Ave.
manhattan beach
bobridgesgallery.com
(310) 937-3764

Finalist
Jill Sanders Gallery
1733 S. Catalina Ave.
Redondo Beach
(310) 918-1965
Jillsandersgallery.com

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