In the 1970s and ‘80s, La Jolla was an entirely different world than it is now. Sure the big homes and expensive cars were there, but so was a cast of characters at Windansea and the surrounding beaches who have since become local legends.
Living by the beach was affordable then, and gentrification had not yet torn down the cheap apartments that once lined the bluffs along the coast. That era bred surfing giants like Tom Ortner, Jeff Divine and Chris O’Rourke who are now the area’s elders as well as style icons for younger generations of surfers.
The era is relatively unknown to all but the old-timers because it was seldom documented and even more rarely shared with anyone but the local crew, until now.
At the Misfit HQ on Pearl Street in La Jolla, a new photography show by longtime friends Buz Sipes and Jon Foster has just opened to rave reviews. The show is aptly named “Friends,” and it takes us on a journey through Sipes’ and Foster’s 45-year friendship. Through their images, outtakes and faces, they reveal a golden era when life seemed to move a little slower and a person could park a car on the beach at Windansea. True story.
Misfit Pictures HQ
Address: 565 Pearl St. #100, La Jolla
Phone: (858) 291-8553
I asked the artists when they last displayed these photos in public.
“I used to do slide shows at my house in the ‘70s,” Foster said. “Buz and I would do these shows together sometimes, it was lots of fun. The last time we showed together was a big charity event in La Jolla with Keith Richards back in 1981.”
That’s a long time between showings, and many of the images on display have never been seen publicly.
One can’t help but feel a connection to the people in the photographs lining the walls of the gallery. The images are of long-haired surfers living in the moment, and the look of our uncluttered coastline left me wanting to go back in time.
The exhibit will be on display until July 16.
As a lifelong San Diegan, Ken Lewis has surfing and ocean life in his DNA. A 30-year surfer himself, Lewis has worked in the surf and skate industry for most of his career. Send him thoughts about the surfing and fitness worlds to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Instagram @hanger18.