Words & Artwork by Jack Fitz Gibbon
[W]ater has no enemy, no one part over another to call foreign, no political point of view and no exchange of money or production of waste. Everything provides in an endless process of give and take. Growing up in Northern Central California was a stroke of geographical luck, being right in the middle meant that beaches, lakes, and countless rivers were close at hand. Over many others, one distant memory that sticks out is my visit to the Lost Coast, a very secluded beach in the north of California—set back 30 miles on a twisty dirt road and two hours from the nearest grocery store or gas station. I had never before seen untouched tide pools, with all of the squishy, spiny creatures that call the shallow rocks their home. I was overwhelmed by the numerous starfish, urchins, sea slugs and best of all, the chiton, the sharp geometric form of which always caught my eyes, and my pad and pencil as well. My art has been pulling in the direction of the sea for as long as I can remember. Since I was young, I drew exotic corals, ancient sea life and many bizarre creatures of the deep. Much of my influences came from my large collection of fossils, mainly those that came from a sea millions of years ago. In the past few years after my introduction to the world’s graffiti scene, my style took a turn towards geometric forms and the 3rd dimension. One goal of mine is to portray the many patterns that occur naturally in life and their interconnection in a playful flow of colours, light and shapes. At age 19, I left my home in California to live abroad in Central America. The Caribbean was foreign to me, and I was eager to see another side of the ocean I had never known in person. I had never spent so much time in my life living so close to the ocean, it seemed no matter how far landlocked I found myself, there was still only a 4 hour bus to either shore. After being a skateboarder for 14 years, I had never discovered surfing, or even given thought to the idea. So much of Central American culture revolves around the ocean, being such skinny countries that much of their borders are on the beach. Being constantly on the move from hostel to hostel, and beach to beach, I was constantly surrounded by surf culture. Though I live within hours from some of the world’s biggest surfing hubs, I had never known a dedicated surfer before my trip. As a skateboarder, seeing people surf is like seeing the most raw form of the sport, the origin.
Near the end of 2012, I spent three months living on the southern Pacific coast of Nicaragua, in the beachfront town of San Juan Del Sur. After taking my first job painting a mural for a local restaurant in San Juan, my reputation in the town spread and I was asked to paint for a great oceanfront hostel, Pacha Mama. Seven months went by after my first two commissions, and I returned to Nicaragua to renew my visa and look for more work. My meeting with the hostel’s boss was cut short once he saw the sketch of Particle Wave, (as I called it at this point), and I was asked to reproduce it on the grand scale to the be the hostel’s main piece. Surfing and living on the beach for a month in Bocas Del Toro, Panama, brought me inspiration for my latest piece Everything Falls Apart. Dedicated to a dear friend of mine and a local of Bocas for the last 10 years, Everything Falls Apart is a glimpse into the inner workings of the forces of nature and their influence in my life. Water being the base for almost all life on earth, I chose colours appropriate to my relationship with the sea. The wave at the bottom of the tree plays a role as the key support for the entire ‘structure’, which stands petrified in motion behind a simple geometric veil of aqua blues, greys, white and black. The colourful glow of the warm Caribbean waters have their place in my palette, and take on a powerful presence in my newest work. While approaching the final layers of my piece, Force Majure, after nearly one month of painting, the only thing I could do was sit on the beach and let the sound of the waves take away the looming stress of the work ahead. The finishing touches of any work are always the most anticipated and most feared in my mind, and nothing takes away that feeling more than the allure of the sea.