Best of the Beach 2022 Art Gallery: Mind surfing with Bo Bridges
A mural by Bo Bridges of a duck diving surfer was recently unveiled by the City of Manhattan Beach on the side of a downtown parking structure. Another Bridges mural is to be installed on the side of the nearby city hall. Around the corner, on Manhattan Beach Boulevard, the newly opened Esperanza restaurant streams two-and-a-half hours of Bridges’s surf videos on its 24 large screen TVs. Other site specific installations by Bridges are in homes and businesses throughout the Beach Cities
All this work is an unforeseen consequence of the pandemic, Bridges said.
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 sport figures, including soccer player David Beckham, baseball player Derek Jeter, skateboarder Shaun White, and tennis player Serena Williams. Breaking up the portraits were extreme sports photos, including a Surfer Magazine cover of Alex Gray in Tahiti, and big wave rider Garrett McNamara surfing waves generated by a calving glacier in Alaska.
The portrait photos didn’t sell well. In 2013, Bridges moved the gallery to downtown Manhattan Beach. The photos still didn’t sell as well as hoped. People didn’t want pictures of elite athletes, Bridges learned. They wanted South Bay scenic pictures, without people in them. He describes them as photos for “mind surfing.” During his travels to exotic locations for his extreme sports assignment, he had already begun shooting the athlete’s “playing fields,” without the athletes.
Photos of local beach scenes have long been popular with local residents and photographers. Down the street, photographer John Post has been selling panoramic views of the beach with lifeguard towers, the pier, palm trees, and sunsets, but never people, since the early ‘90s.
When the pandemic shut down sporting events and travel, Bridges focused his attention on his Manhattan Beach gallery.
The gallery business picked up. People working at home didn’t want to look at blank walls.
But people rarely “bought off the wall.” They wanted images sized to fit their home stairwell, or office conference room.
So gallery director Vanessa Zippo began offering onsite consultations. An El Segundo law firm wanted their offices to feel uplifting, with crazy colors, like the “Willie Wonka Chocolate factory.” The onsite consultations proved so popular that Zippo is now offering them over Zoom for out of area clients. The consultations allow clients to browse Bridges’ decades deep archives.
The gallery also began offering jigsaw puzzles, coasters, beach towels, baseball caps and apparel with Bridges beach-centric, “mind surfing” images. Target picked up the apparel line
The installations and accessories are popular, not just because they are beautiful photos, but because they bear Bridges’ bold, arching signature.
Like the athletes and celebrities he photographs, Bo Bridges has become a brand.
Bo Bridges Gallery
1108 Manhattan Ave.
Jill Sanders Gallery
1733 S. Catalina Ave.