ENCINITAS — On Nov. 6, 1997, the late Gary Taylor profiled 18-year-old Micaiah Hardison in an article in The Coast News titled “Surf artist lives the life of a bohemian.”
At the time, Hardison, a third-generation Leucadian, was living in a camper rig attached to a 20-year-old truck. Money from art he produced in a makeshift studio, a garden shack, funded his love of travel.
Hardison’s lifestyle touched a chord with Taylor, who was re-evaluating his own values as he turned 40.
“Here was a young man who grew up on Neptune Avenue, overlooking the reefs of Leucadia, who seemed to have at least a few of the answers some of us search for most of our lives,” Taylor wrote. “At 18, he seemed to grasp the simple fact that material wealth does not necessarily equate to a successful life.”
Taylor added that Hardison had things backwards in that most people acquire the trappings of success as young adults, only to realize as they get older that “it’s all vanity crap.”
“Maybe I do have it backwards,” Hardison responded. “I’ve got my old truck now. Maybe later I’ll have all those things. I’ve tried to learn from other people’s mistakes. Who knows, maybe I’m making a mistake now but I don’t think so.”
Today Hardison is a family man living in Encinitas with two older model cars parked in front of his home. He supports his family making upscale commercial signage for an international clientele. To do so, he relies on pricey technology including his Blackberry and Mac computer.
But in the grand scheme of things he has remained true to himself.
Hardison has become a popular artist with his work appearing in shows sponsored by the 101 Arts Colony, the Laguna Plein Air Painters Association and the California Arts Club in Pasadena. His one-man shows have been seen in Great Britain and Spain.
He also founded the Bravura Academy in southern Spain, which offers painting retreats led by world-renowned artists such as Daniele Greene, Jeff Watts and Calvin Liang.
Over the years, Hardison has traveled extensively throughout Central and South America, Canada and the Pacific Islands.
He found his way to Spain in 2001 after becoming intrigued with a young English woman he met through a friend via e-mail. The couple communicated for a few weeks until she announced she would be
leaving to visit her mother in Spain.
“I’m going to Spain, too!” Hardison said on an impulse, seizing an opportunity to finally meet.
He quickly booked his flight and traveled to the fishing village of Zahara de los Atunes where he visited Alison Bloor in person. The following day the two traveled to Asilah, Morocco, with her mother and a friend.
They married a few months later in Tarifa, Spain, and remained there. Hardison painted and opened a gallery.
In 2003, Micaiah and Alison Hardison, and a Spanish rescue dog named Geronimo, relocated to Encinitas. The family grew with the arrival of daughter, Zahara, in 2005. Another daughter, Asilah, followed last year.
Alison Hardison has become well-known in the coastal community through her tireless efforts to relieve crowding at the Carlsbad shelter by pulling dogs and placing them in foster and permanent homes.
“I truly believe that if we could all do something, just a bit of something to help those around us how much better our world could be,” she said. “So I try to help those that cannot speak for themselves.”
Now 31, Micaiah Hardison is in the second year of a 10-year plan to support his family solely as an artist. Part of the plan involves moving the Bravura Academy to Encinitas next year.
“My vision remains the same: to appreciate a simple, wholesome life with time to enjoy the surf and paint,” he said. “Now I have two girls and a lady to share it all with, and an understanding of what it takes to be a successful painter.”?For information about Micaiah Hardison and the Bravura Academy, call (760) 230-1547 or visit Micaiah.net or BravuraAcademy.com. His paintings can also be seen at Le Papagayo restaurant in Leucadia.
For information about fostering or adopting a shelter dog, call Alison Hardison at (760) 707-8261.