The Coast News Group
'Aquatone,' by Wade Koniakowsky

Waterspot: Art is the essential non-essential

“Artists are not only indispensable, but also vital, especially now.” — German Culture Minister Monika Gütters

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”  — Pablo Picasso

“Dude, did you see that wave I drew on my Pee Chee Folder?” — Some dude somewhere


We need air, water and food (in that order) to stay above ground.

Essential businesses are those that keep us kicking.

So, like you, I ate food and drank water yesterday and today and I am alive. Sort of.

Through the white noise comes the wisdom of Ben Cartwright: “Go west, Little Joe.” Surfers know there’s more than, life, death and TV — we know there are degrees of those states.

How can we be termed alive when we are laid out on the couch, beer firmly grasped in one hand, remote control in the other? 

If you’ve never experienced an adrenaline spike to the brain as you drop over a steep ledge on your tiptoes, you might think watching other people through a peephole is enough.

But the Endorphin Meter barely budges when we’re half-conscious, slumped on the sofa.

My point is that real life requires real movement, real music and real art to jerk us into high gear.

What we see, think and do is as important, more important, for our health than what we eat.

To that end my house is littered with art pieces I cannot afford to own or live without. There are paintings of landscapes flowers, Polynesian dancers, scary monsters and Ed “Big Daddy” Roth hotrods. Some are by famous artists, others by my 5-year-old grandson. Regardless, each has the ability to turn a cellphone recorded pet trick into a Sunset Boulevard grand opening.

My friends Wade Koniakowsky and Jeff Grygera are artists.

Wade owns a gallery that specializes in fine ocean art and Jeff owns a surf shop in Cardiff.

If you don’t yet recognize Jeff as an artist, that’s because his medium is foam and resin from which he makes lifelike sea creatures and, most notably, surfboards. 

Should you doubt Grygera’s artistry, visit Iron Cross Surfboards in Cardiff, look up and drool over the Bolts and the racks of other vibrant lollipops.

Both Wade and Jeff are longtime local surfers in danger of letting their leases expire if we don’t step up.

There are two very good reasons for us to do this: One is that you need art to be fully alive.

Secondly, without unique shops, chain coffee or burger joints will take their place.

Far more essential than that morning jolt, or artery clogging all-beef patty, is a surfboard that, at pennies a wave, offers joy and health for years.

It is essential that we move and surround ourselves each day with beauty, and Wade’s tropical visions never fail to wash the daily dust off my soul.

There are many other surf shops and art galleries owned by longtime local artists and surfers in town.

You’re saving what remains of your town when you patronize them.

An artist friend once quoted the cliche, “A picture’s worth a thousand words” to me. “Not if they’re the right words,” I replied.

Here are four words possibly worth considering: Buy art and live!